RWANDA NATIONAL POLICE – Exemplary conduct, noted

RWANDA NATIONAL POLICE – Exemplary conduct, noted

There are fewer organs of the State that are more important and critical than the National Police, and how it functions says a lot about the state of our governance — our leaders, institutions and our policies.

CP JB Kabera Handed over the money to the owner Uwizeyimana Claudine

From the top brass to the lowest rank, when our men and women adorn the blue uniform they represent the power of the state and the flag that defines our national character. They are charged with keeping us safe by enforcing laws and maintaining civility. They are the public face that reflects our social cohesion and discipline and how we navigate daily. How they enforce the law, and how they treat the public that they are paid to serve, at the end of the day is a reflection of what kind of society we value and we have consciously chosen to chart.

On a continent where there is a corruption pandemic, and all over African cities rogue police officers are not in short supply, it is always gratifying to witness exemplary, professional and honest conduct by one of our Men in Blue. No matter how small.

Let me tell you about one Sgt God Muremyangabo.

Sgt Gad Muremyangabo

On November 12, 2020, between the hours of 9:30 – 10:00 p.m. while on duty, he found an envelope full of cash and other personal papers on the street in GISHUSHU, Gasabo District. He did the right thing, He turned the envelope in. His conduct exemplifies the values of the men, women and officers of the RNP.

One might say this Officer did what we expect from our police force. True, but honesty does not always go hand in hand with discipline, and doing the right thing doesn’t always come easy, to most people, especially, I dare say during these pandemic days when people’s finances have been turned upside down.

RNP Announcement on the lost & found money

This is important because this exemplary conduct reflects our national core values and the discipline and integrity of our government organs. It is a simple act that will remain in our hearts long after the accolades die down.

Sgt Muremyangabo’s conduct will be added to many others by selfless individuals in our society that have put country first, and self last. It is a gratifying simple act that tells our detractors that we are a people of solid character, good moral values and un-shakeable integrity, from top to bottom.

This matters a lot, especially during a week in which our neighbors across the border in Kampala have exhibited conduct that shocks the conscience. Watching the Uganda police and military brutally deal with the public that was demonstrating (and yes, there were looters and many behaving badly) against what they perceive as government failure to address their concerns while curbing their democratic rights was un-nerving.

Uganda Police Brutality

A reported 38 were killed by the security forces, and 600 arrested. It is the manner and style that the security forces resorted to that raises eyebrows. One watching the operation could hardly tell who were the bad guys and the good guys, save the uniforms and big guns the security forces wear and carry.

Law and order must be maintained, but at what cost? What does it say when those charged with upholding the law resort to thuggish behavior, shooting un-armed defenseless women in broad daylight, albeit on national television? With this indiscipline, how are the governed supposed to respect the rule of law and listen to those charged with upholding and maintaining good governance?

Or, is the writing on the wall? Are people exhibiting fatigue as a result of bad governance and cyclical questionable elections which have left the masses with no hope of a better tomorrow?

These are indeed nagging questions that demand answers. It cannot be business as usual if the rule of law is going to prevail. I say one Sergeant’s simple act of integrity and professionalism shames the conduct of a battalion of unruly, out of control armed security forces consumed by their un-checked power.

In 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya when there was a terrorist attack by Somali fundamentalists at The Westgate Mall, we watched in horror as the Kenya police and members of the Kenya Defense Force looted stores with sheer abandon and impunity. They had been summoned to deal with terrorists, but instead they threw discipline to the wind and helped themselves to expensive jewelry and other sundry items. It was a sore to the eye that forever stained the Kenyan forces in question.

Kenya Defense Forces looting stores at the scene of crime. Video Courtesy of “The Telegraph”

One small act of integrity deserves mention, because it shines a light on our entire exercise of governance. To those in public service, I salute your service and dedication and appeal to you to let a Sergeant’s good conduct be your moral compass.

One and all, we owe Sgt God Muremyangabo a ton of thanks for letting Rwanda shine, once again when many within and without are working day and night to tear us down.