Posts from — March 2013
The three-day National Leadership Retreat that took place at Gabiro School of Infantry in Gatsibo District, Eastern Province, ended on Friday with rekindled commitments to transform Rwanda into a middle income nation by 2020 where EDPRS 2 will play a pivotal role.
The last day of the 10th retreat focused on infrastructure, human capacity development and the improvement of public service delivery. President Kagame urged all public service officials to look beyond presentations on achievements and to keep an open mind to the kind of learning that will lead to the desired change Rwanda deserves.
“We know what we want and we should not be adverse to learning. If we are sure of where we want to go and what it takes for us to get there,” he said. “Why should it be difficult? It is about having the right attitude.”
On the issue of the hindering obstacles that engulf Rwanda, President Kagame told the leaders to rather consider it a motivation that will lead to greater achievements: “Injustices are a reminder, they keep waking you up and push you to give your all,” said the Head of State.
To achieve the targeted 11.5 per cent annual growth rate as envisaged under EDPRS 2, infrastructure remains a priority. Prof. Silas Lwakabamba, Minister of Infrastructure, highlighted key priorities for the next five years that include urbanisation, rural resettlement, energy and transport.
Minister Lwakabamba explained EDPRS 2 plans to develop secondary cities across the country, increase financing and supply of affordable housing as well as improve infrastructure for the growing population in urban areas.
He also pointed to appropriate transport as a critical focus of infrastructure development citing air cargo as a key target for EDPRS 2.
In addition to developing physical infrastructure, EDPRS 2 aims to consolidate achievements in education with a particular focus on vocational training in priority areas of economic development.
The Minister of Education Dr. Vincent Biruta emphasized the importance of changing the mindset that leads young people to consider vocational training as less valuable education.
“Youth should know that education is not simply about a degree. Vocational training will be a crucial contribution to achieving the targets set out in EDPRS 2,” he said.
The eventful retreat ended with renewed energy and commitments from leaders to better serve Rwandans.
Source: The New Times
March 31, 2013 No Comments
The government plans to expand Nyabuheke refugee camp in Gatsibo District, Eastern Province, to accommodate more Congolese who flee to Rwanda the Ministry of Disaster and Refugee affairs has confirmed.
Apparently Nkamira transit centre has over 8,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and more continue to flee, meaning that they might fail to find where to stay unless more space is secured.
Refugees are mostly fleeing violence targeting Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese. They enter through La Corniche border post in Gisenyi Sector, Rubavu District in Western Province.
“We are examining 23 hectors where we want to relocate some of the refuges at Nkamira transit centre and those who continue to cross,” Fredrick Ntawukuriryayo, the Communications Officer at the ministry revealed to Sunday Times.
He refuted allegations in some media that had reported that all refugee camps in the country are at full capacity adding that the government would continue strategizing for the wellbeing of refugees in the country.
The refugees are being provided with food and shelter by the government in collaboration with United Nations High Commission for Refugees, among other agencies.
Rwanda hosts over 70,000 Congolese refugees. They are in various camps, including Gihembe in Gicumbi district, Kiziba in Karongi district, Nyabiheke in Gatsibo and Kigeme in Nyamagabe district. Others are in Kigali City and Nkamira Transit Centre in the Western Province.
Recently the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said there was need for more support for Congolese refugees living in camps in Rwanda.
UNHCR Country Representative, Warsame Neimar, who was speaking at Nkamira Transit Centre, said they needed more than $46m (about Rwf29b) to facilitate the refugees.
Source: The Sunday Times
March 31, 2013 No Comments
President Paul Kagame has said Rwanda will not be victimized over the DR Congo crisis, which it neither created, nor compounds.
Speaking at the leadership retreat at Gabiro School of Infantry in Rwanda on Thursday, Kagame said last year’s high-level UN meeting on the DR Congo crisis on September 27, in New York, was convened to “hang” Rwanda.
The three-day leadership retreat on the development programme code-named Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS2), was under the theme, “Working Together to Deliver EDPRS2.”
The 300 leaders from the central and local governments are examining strategies to accelerate growth and achieve the targets set out in the country’s economic blueprint.
Kagame said Rwandans should not cower in the face of victimisation because of “other people’s actions.”
He said Rwandans never played a role in making some ethnic Rwandan citizens of the DR Congo.
“Regarding the Rwandaphones living in the Congo, the question is who took them there?” he said.
Kinyarwanda-speaking communities in the DR Congo have, for decades, been the centre of bloody tension with politicians in Kinshasa, sometimes questioning the former’s legitimacy as Congolese citizens.
The alleged exclusion and persecution of Rwandaphones in the Congo forms part of the grievances of the M23 rebels, who took up arms against President Joseph Kabila’s government a year ago.
They accused Kinshasa of reneging on a peace deal under which fighters in an earlier rebellion had been absorbed in the national army.
Kagame said: “Assuming Rwanda contributed to DR Congo’s problems, say 10% of those problems, should we take responsibility for all their problems? Why hang Rwanda? Why not hang the Congolese?”
Source: New Vision
March 31, 2013 No Comments
The Workforce Development Authority (WDA) has convened the fourth contest pitting robots developed from eight schools under the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
The competition, which was held in Kigali, was also facilitated by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and besides the vocational schools, also attracted Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST).
According to WDA, the contest was organised to provide opportunities for students to put their acquired engineering skills into practice, thus contributing to the strengthening of practical skills under TVET institutions, universities and higher learning institutions.
“This competition is a success story for WDA as well as JICA. This is the fourth one, meaning that we are creating an avenue for the students to show and vanish their practical knowledge,” said Kobayashi Hiroyuki, the JICA country representative.
Although the level of technology is still low, Hiroyuki said, with experience, the young scientists will achieve more. He said the competition was another way for scientists to have fun.
The winners of the competition will represent the country in a similar regional competition, which will take place in Nairobi in May this year.
Maurice Beza, of Tumba College of Technology, said the hands-on experience boosts students’ chances of becoming entrepreneurs.
Source: The New Times
March 29, 2013 No Comments
A workshop by various partners was held Tuesday to discuss the content of the Access to Information Law, which came into force recently.
The law that eases access to public information, whether held by public or private institutions, saw Rwanda becoming the 11th African country with that kind of legislation that seeks to ease the work of media practitioners.
The meeting discussed drafts of several ministerial orders that will complement the law, including the confidentiality clause. It was organised by the Rwanda Governance Board and chaired by the Ombudsman’s office, which will oversee its implementation.
Other orders include the proactive disclosure by State organs, the time limit for such disclosures and the charges where necessary.
Speaking after the meeting, Xavier Mbarubukeye, the permanent secretary in the Ombudsman’s office, said the discussions were timely.
“Through these meetings, we are gaining knowledge and borrowing ideas on how we will operate and implement the law,” Mbarubukeye said.
Henry Maina, the director of the media watchdog Article19 Eastern Africa, who also attended the meeting, said it is crucial that after the law was gazetted, the ministerial orders are being drafted to ensure expeditious implementation.
“With some of the draft ministerial orders, more work have to be done, like the one talking about fact disclosure or lack of security. If you look at the one of proactive disclosure, the main challenge is that there is no clarity on the procedure to be taken by each agency or organisation to be allowed to develop its own procedure. That could be dangerous because there won’t be uniformity in what is being done,” Maina revealed.
He said Rwanda could borrow from the Liberian Freedom of Information Act, which is clear on what can be done on the proactive disclosure.
“Given the histories of the two countries, then there wouldn’t be much to be changed that’s within an African context and a country in transition from an unfortunate historical moment,” he said.
Representatives of security organs promised to work with relevant drafting organs to define what was restricted, or confidential information.
Source: The New Times
March 29, 2013 No Comments
The Rwandan government and the Republic of Lithuania on Wednesday signed an agreement aimed at strengthening mutual understanding and cooperation between the two countries.
Rwanda’s State Minister for Cooperation and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Eugène-Richard Gasana signed on behalf of Rwanda while Lithuania’s minister of Foreign Affairs, Linas Linkevicius signed for the Republic of Lithuania.
The agreement sets a framework for establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries based on the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 and, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963, according to a joint statement received by The New Times.
The Eastern European nation, Lithuania joined the European Union in the spring of 2004 and will hold EU Presidency of the Council of the European Union from July 1, 2013 to 31 December 2013.
Also Lithuania has presented its candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for the period 2014 to 2015.
Prior to the global financial crisis of 2007-2010 and now in its aftermath, Lithuania has one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. Lithuania is a member of NATO, the Council of Europe, and the European Union.
The United Nations Human Development Index lists Lithuania as a “Very High Human Development” country.
Source: The New Times
March 29, 2013 No Comments
President Paul Kagame has called on public officials to perfect the art of coordination and communication among themselves as the country embarks on the implementation of a major five-year development agenda.
The President made the remarks while addressing 300 national and local leaders at the opening of the 10th National Leadership Retreat at Gabiro School of Infantry in Gatsibo District, Eastern Province.
He noted that without coordination and teamwork among government agencies and other actors, the country would not achieve the targeted 11.5 per cent annual growth rate as envisaged under the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) II.
“Without working together, we will not achieve our full potential and will not reach the targets we have set for ourselves. If you don’t let your strengths complement each other, we will only achieve a small percentage of our goals,” Kagame said.
“We must improve on working together…no one can achieve results without working as part of a team.”
The President added that while government officials have generally understood what they needed to do, they are at times unable to translate plans into actions.
“We must increase our ability to move from words to action, from plans to implementation and achieve results.”
Kagame emphasised that Rwanda is in position to deliver double digit annual growth rate considering that the country had maintained an average of eight per cent growth rate over the past few years, including last year when donors withheld or cut aid over allegations of Kigali’s support to a rebel group in the neighbouring DRC.
Leaders must believe
The President pointed out that this ambition (11.5 percent growth rate) was informed by the country’s unique context and experience, drawing parallels with countries which may be content with achieving as little as 1 per cent of growth rate.
Rwanda is bidding to become a middle income economy by 2020, and this will require the country’s GDP per capita to increase from the current $644 to $1,240.
The President urged the leaders to believe in achieving what the government has set its sights on.
“We can’t accept to be hostages of pity; you have to believe that we can aspire, that we can achieve; we can’t be leaders who don’t believe because that means the country won’t believe,” he said, adding that the retreat was an opportunity to “renew our resolve” to deliver the desired results.
“This is not just another holiday, its time and space to think and to believe.”
The Head of State also talked of the injustices meted out on Rwanda with regard to the DRC crisis, particularly recalling a high-level UN meeting on the Congo crisis on September 27, last year, in New York, which he said had been called to “hang” Rwanda.
He called on Rwandans not to cower in the wake of the consequences of “other people’s actions”, saying that the people of Rwanda played no role in making Rwandophones the citizens of the Congo.
“The Rwandaphones living in the Congo, the question is who took them there?” he asked.
Kinyarwanda-speaking communities in the Congo have for decades been the centre of bloody tensions, with politicians in Kinshasa sometimes questioning the former’s legitimacy as Congolese citizens.
The colonial Berlin Conference of 1884 significantly reduced Rwanda’s territory, with several Rwandans effectively becoming citizens of neighbouring countries, including the Congo.
The alleged exclusion and persecution of Rwandophones in the Congo form part of the grievances of the M23 rebels, who took up arms against President Joseph Kabila’s government a year ago, after the former accused Kinshasa of reneging on a peace deal under which fighters in an earlier rebellion had been absorbed in the national army.
Kagame said: “Assuming Rwanda contributed to DRC’s problems, say 10 per cent of those problems, should we take responsibility for all their problems?…Why hang Rwanda? Why not hang the Congolese?”
He said Rwanda was being punished for standing up for its rights.
“Some look at Rwanda as a country that wants too much independence and stands in the way of certain interests. We cannot be people who accept to be submissive,” he said drawing loud applause from the audience.
“Without self reliance, some will feel they have the right to make you carry their burden and blame you for their failure,” the President said. “We are not different, we have the same aspirations (as other people).
Citing the current crises in Mali and the Central African Republic, President Kagame faulted some African leaders who accept to be used by the West, only to be eventually overthrown by “thugs”, who end up raping and killing people.
“Africans, you cannot accept this, you are worth more than that. Well, I can’t speak for others, but as Rwanda, we should not accept this…You want to decide for us and tell us how we should live our lives? Why? Who are you?”
The three-day retreat, held under the theme, Working Together to Deliver EDPRS II, will focus on strategies to accelerate growth and achieve the targets set out in the country’s economic blueprint.
In his report to the retreat, Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi said 11 per cent of the recommendations from last year’s Leadership Retreat was yet to be achieved, and specifically cited pending programmes under the ministries of Health, Infrastructure, Local Government, and Finance.
It is expected the energy shortage, as was the case last year, will be a major topic at this retreat, along with the acute need for skills development.
The Leadership Retreat is one of the home-grown solutions that Rwanda has adopted to accelerate the country’s development and generally improve the well being of the citizens.
In the past, the Abayobozi (leaders) used to go into seclusion to reflect and then return with solutions.
This is the second time the annual retreat, also known as Umwiherero, is taking place in a government facility, away from the flashy hotels which previously used to host these meetings at a huge financial cost.
Last year’s retreat was held at the Rwanda Military Academy – Gako in Bugesera District.
Source: All Africa
March 29, 2013 No Comments
The UN Security Council has unanimously approved the first-ever “offensive” UN peacekeeping brigade to battle rebels groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The force of more than 2,500 troops will operate under orders to “neutralise” and “disarm” armed groups in the resource-rich east of the huge country, according to the council’s resolution on Thursday.
The intervention brigade is unprecedented in UN peacekeeping because of its offensive mandate.
But the resolution states clearly that it would be established for one year “on an exceptional basis and without creating a precedent” to the principles of UN peacekeeping.
Surveillance drones will be used to monitor the DR Congo’s borders with neighbours accused of backing the rebels will be operating by July, according to UN officials.
The resolution, sponsored by France, the US and Togo, would give the brigade a mandate to operate “in a robust, highly mobile and versatile manner” to ensure that armed groups cannot seriously threaten government authority or the security of civilians.
UN peacekeepers were unable to protect civilians from M23 rebels, whose movement began in April 2012 when hundreds of troops defected from the Congolese armed forces.
The resolution strongly condemns the continued presence of the M23 in the immediate vicinity of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, and its attempts to establish “an illegitimate parallel administration in North Kivu”.
It demands that the M23 and other armed groups, including those seeking the “liberation” of Rwanda and Uganda, immediately halt all violence and “permanently disband and lay down their arms”.
It also strongly condemns their continuing human rights abuses including summary executions, sexual and gender-based violence and large-scale recruitment and use of children.
Besides disbanding armed groups, the resolution says the intervention brigade will monitor an arms embargo along with a panel of UN experts and observe and report on the flows of military personnel, weapons and equipment across the border of eastern Congo including by “surveillance capabilities provided by unmanned aerial systems.”
The brigade will be part of the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo, known as MONUSCO, within its troop ceiling of 19,815.
The UN currently has more than 17,700 UN peacekeepers and more than 1,400 international police in Congo.
The resolution extends MONUSCO’s mandate until March 31, 2014. The “intervention brigade” headquarters will be in the key eastern city of Goma and UN officials say it will probably include between 2,000 and 3,000 troops.
The brigade and drones are part of a new UN campaign to end conflict in DR Congo’s border regions with Rwanda and Uganda.
Eleven African nations signed a UN-brokered accord last month pledging not to interfere in the affairs of their neighbours. Rwanda, a temporary African member of the Security Council, joined the other 14 members in voting for the resolution.
Congo has been engulfed in fighting since the 1994 Rwanda genocide, in which at least 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu militants before a Tutsi-led rebel army took power in Rwanda.
More than 1 million Rwandan Hutus fled across the border into Congo, and Rwanda has invaded Congo several times to take action against Hutu militias there.
March 29, 2013 No Comments
President Kagame said today that it was clear progress has been made in the areas of understanding what needs to be done and how it should be done, but that a lot remains to be done when it comes to implementation. President Kagame was speaking on the first day of the 10th National Leadership Retreat taking place at Gabiro School of Infantry in Gatsibo District,Eastern Province. About 270 senior officials from central and local government, representatives of the legislative and judiciary as well as members of private sector are meeting at the retreat to strategise on accelerating Rwanda’s economic growth.
President Kagame said that the targets in Rwanda’s development strategy were essential for the transformation of the lives of all Rwandans:
“We want 11% growth to ensure that Rwandans lead the life they deserve. We are no longer a resigned Rwanda where Rwandans did not believe they could aspire to be like others. As leaders we must believe and we must make others believe that we can achieve. We are really no different in terms of those aspirations from those who want to determine how we live our lives. You don’t do it for them, you do it with them. That is the duty you have as leaders. That is why we are here.”
President Kagame reiterated that Rwanda’s unique problems mean that leaders cannot afford the luxury of being complacent and must work hard to achieve self reliance:
“Our main problem is dependence. As long as you are dependent, those who feed you will believe they own you. We cannot be people who accept to be submissive. We must not be silent. We cannot accept to be what someone else wants us to be. Africans are worth much more than what they make us out to be. This is our struggle.”
President Kagame also urged all present to strive to be respected as equals rather than be blamed for the failure of others as has been the case with the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo:
“How can we be responsible for Rwandaphones living in the Congo, the question should be who took them there? Rwanda never sent Kinyarwanda speaking Congolese to Congo but that does not stop some people from blaming Rwanda whenever there are problems in Eastern Congo. It is only through hard work, determination and resilience that we will be able to ultimately say no to being made to carry other people’s burdens.”
In order to create change, President Kagame called on public servants to move more rapidly from words to action and from planning to implementation and to prioritise internal collaboration to ensure the success of the strategies laid out during the retreat.
“We are talking about economic growth but I can assure you that you can never achieve this if there is no coordination and communication among institutions in order to complement each other’s strength. Some achievement may be registered in the long run but it will only be a small percentage of the desired target. The way we coordinate and communicate affects the results. We have to plan and strategize to achieve our targets. ”
Following President Kagame’s address, Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi shared with participants the progress in the key areas of service delivery, energy, poverty reduction, job creation, agriculture and health as laid out during 2012 National Leadership Retreat. With key areas including. With training of local officials, close to 300 Hanga Umurimo projects started, over 50,000 given access to loan through VUP, the Prime Minister congratulated those present for the progress over the last year.
Minister Claver Gatete of the Ministry of Economic Planning and Finance presented to the retreat on rural development, job creation for youth and accountable governance as key strategies to eliminate extreme poverty and double GDP per capita by 2020.
Minister Kanimba of the Ministry of Trade and Commerce highlighted the role private sector as essential to Rwanda’s socio-economic transformation, with target at to triple private investment by 2020.
The theme of the three-day retreat is “Working together to deliver EDPRS 2” and will focus on how to double GDP per capita and increase GDP growth from the current annual average of 8.2% in the last ten years to 11.5% by the year 2020.
Source: All Africa
March 29, 2013 No Comments
The exiled and former all-powerful prosecutor general of Rwanda Gerald Gahima has surprisingly come out with a spirited defense of the country’s justice system – a position coming from one of the fiercest critics of government.
Gahima says despite the “shortcomings”, the country’s justice system is not what some critical western authors have tried to portray it. Following the 1994 genocide, government – in which Gahima was prosecutor general, established the Gacaca traditional courts which eventually tried about 2 million cases.
However, the country also undertook a reform of the conventional court system to prosecute the top officials involved in the execution of the genocide against Tutsis. Various authors accuse the government of using the law to persecute a selected section of people within Rwandan society, a charge the authorities in Kigali have repeatedly found offensive. Now, it seems, they have an unlikely supporter.
“I don’t agree that the justice processes that Rwanda has undertaken are purely an instrument of persecution of the Hutu people,” said Gahima last night, as he appeared on the online radio station owned by the Rwanda National Congress (RNC). This is a group founded by Gahima, former Rwanda army chief Kayumba Nyamwasa and two other dissidents.
Gahima added: “I take exception to the approach by some of these scholars to think that they alone have a right to discuss Rwanda’s transitional justice from an academic point of view; that we Rwandans cannot discuss these issues from an academic point of view.”
“There are reasons why these processes were necessary – they have shortcomings which I document but I don’t agree [with people who have criticized these systems],” said Gahima.
The former top law enforcement officer was on the radio station, which airs once in a while, to discuss his book published recently. Gahima said the book was originally a PHD thesis from the National University of Ireland, but decided on publishing it.
“I particularly wanted to speak out because I didn’t subscribe or agree with some of the writings that have come out,” said Gahima, currently based in Washington.
Denying the genocide?
Gahima defended the book saying he wanted to clear the air so that “foreigners should not be the lone voice” on the debate about Rwanda’s judicial changes. It is not clear why Gahima, a fierce government critic has suddenly changed his mind. But it could be possible that he had no other option.
As he prepared such an academic document, Gahima may have had trouble convincing his supervisors that his politicized positions were indeed the true reflection of the situation inside Rwanda. Various acclaimed authors have splashed praise on the country’s judiciary for facilitating the development of a harmonious society Rwanda is at the moment. Genocide suspects are being extradited to Rwanda as a result of the judicial changes.
In the two-hour radio interview, Gahima also spoke about the genocide. As expected, he tried to exonerate the Habyarimana government of any responsibility in the planning and execution of the mass slaughter, instead accusing the interim government which took over immediately after Habyarimana’s assassination. It is not surprising Gahima takes this position.
He and RNC colleagues have been trying to woo the Habyarimana family and inner circle – most of who are exiled in Europe. Gahima himself did meet Agather Kanziga, the widow of the ex-Rwandan leader. A Paris court ruled two weeks ago that she must be tried for genocide.
RNC is also in contact with alleged genocide financer Felicien Kabuga, through his daughter Winnie Kabuga and her husband Dr Paulin Murayi. The couple is said to be bankrolling the RNC from their home in Belgium. As for Felicien Kabuga, despite a $5milion bounty from the US government for his arrest, the financier of the RTLM hate radio remains at large.
Gahima makes another contradictory U-TURN?
Last month, Dr Murayi travelled to South Africa where he met with Kayumba and Karegeya. Information documented by the UN tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) shows that Dr Murayi is the one who identified and hired the so called “Genocide journalist” Georges Ruggiu, the Belgo-Italian convicted for his role in the massacres.
In the same interview, Gerald Gahima made another U-TURN about a position he and his dissident colleagues have held on the genocide against Tutsis. In apparent gestures to clear the government at the time, the Gahimas have constantly affirmed that the genocide was a reaction to the death of Habyarimana. But last night seemed to have been time for a U-TURN.
“I don’t subscribe to the view that the genocide was just a spontaneous reaction by the Hutu community because their president was dead,” said Gahima, whose comments seem designed to appeal to genocide survivors, who have vigorously denounced the dissidents.
“There was a government who sat, planned these killings; who sent people at lower levels to organize the killings. It was very systematic.”
However, Gahima says Habyarimana’s government did not in any way plan the genocide. He claims the genocide was planned by the interim government headed by Theodore Sindikubwabo.
What Gahima does not say, and which is the documented fact; is that the genocide targeting Tutsis had been going on in places like Bugesera before the night of April 06, 1994 when the slaughter begun en-mass across the country.
Who is Gahima?
Following the takeover of Kigali by the transitional administration, which had kicked out the genocide government, Gahima held various positions which eventually led him to being Prosecutor General. Using the tools of his office, Gahima developed a clandestine system which his critics at the time said was used to torment unsuspecting victims.
Many of the genocide fugitives in western cities accuse him of witch hunting them. It emerged later after he had been dropped in 2003 that suspects had to pay for their liberty.
Perhaps the biggest scandal was a bank document of Rwf 70million printed at the time on the front page of a tabloid with names of Gahima’s mother. Gahima had used his mother’s names to obtain the loan – which was granted without any guarantee.
An audit found later that several of such fraudulent loans were numerous; and the banks said they had no authority to decline any amount of cash for such a powerful figure.
March 28, 2013 No Comments