UMWIHERERO – 17 : Kagame calls them as he sees them

UMWIHERERO – 17 : Kagame calls them as he sees them

17th National Retreat. Photo Credit Flickr (Paul Kagame)

At the just concluded UMWIHERERO 17 at Gabiro where Ministers and heads of government departments, civil society, the Youths and the economic sector leaders meet every year to assess progress made in the preceding year, President Kagame did not mince his words.

No surprise there.

In vintage no-nonsense Kagame style, he called a spade a spade, sparing none gathered who have come short of national expectations.

HE. Paul Kagame & 1st Lady arrive for the 2nd day of 17th National Leaders Retreat. Photo Credit Flickr (Paul Kagame)

Observing from 10,000 miles away, I could not help but feel empathy for the attendees, many of whom had cases to answer, for either laxity or outright incompetence. That’s right: in the new Rwanda status quo does not work anymore.

It was instructive to watch, and made me wonder what the temperature was in the hall. But, I digress.

Starting with the two Ministers who recently resigned due to bad, dis-honorable and pedestrian behavior, President Kagame left no doubt about zero tolerance to incompetence, “Ibyaha”, and all un-becoming behavior by government officials.

Audio remarks by HE. Paul Kagame at the opening of the National Leaders Retreat

President Kagame said it loud and clear for all to digest : nobody, not even ministers, are above the law. That is melody to the average man and woman on the street.

Those who allege that there is no democracy, or so-called political space in Rwanda, are simply ignorant, biased or full of it. Where else in Africa do you see such openness, coordination, and a government in action?

At the heart of President Kagame’s message were calls to accountability, self-reliance, self-respect and adherence to the rule of law.

What I saw televised is a definition of good effective leadership, a call to arms if Rwanda is to forge ahead and continue to be a beckon of stability and progress on the continent.

UMWIHERERO is Rwanda’s way of saying to the world that we do not run away from our problems, but meet to discuss them and prescribe home-grown solutions while holding every Rwandan, especially those in positions of power accountable.

HE. Paul Kagame & 1st Lady during deliberations at the National Leaders Retreat. Photo Credit Flickr (Paul Kagame)

The message was clear and succinct to Rwanda’s neighbors : we are an independent and sovereign state that will not take instructions or dictates, or threats from our neighbors. And we will deal sternly with any aggression directed at us.

President Kagame hit the nail on the head: we are who we are, will manage in our own style, with the resources we have, and in our own time and pace.

I know this was clearly heard and understood in Kampala and Bujumbura.

Rwanda may be small, but our resolve should never be under-estimated, nor our strength ignored. We have been where few nations have been. We have chosen to not look back, but chart a course that defines our character, defiance and desire to have good relations with those who wish us well.

Rwanda has come along way, and UMWIHERERO says to the world that we have taken note of our tortured history, are learning from our mistakes, and have vowed to make the words “NEVER AGAIN” meaningful, and sacred.