Rwanda’s achilles heel?

They say you will never know where you are going if you forget where you came from. But i think this is wrong. In fact, sometimes, you only need to know where they want you to go and you will not need to remember where you came from.

It was Tuesday 15, 2006 and i was preparing to hand over the day’s edited stories to our chief designer for design when the then Editor in Chief of The New Times came rushing in with news that was too hot to be left out.

Jean Marie Mubirigi (as if anyone remembers him now) and Octave Semwanga had both thrown in the towel at Nyarugenge. One would think, this was an irrelevant story and perhaps one that could wait. Not at all, Mubirigi was the then Nyarugenge mayor and Semwanga the district Executive Secretary.

Their sacking (or resignation as they put it) was according to The New Times, top news or at least news that had to be published in the following day’s paper. Makes sense? No and you can be excused.

Three years on, the Nyarugenge mayoral seat remains as hot. From Mubirigi to Origene Rutayisire who was also shown the door a few weeks ago, resignation appears to have become normal, only awkward if you consider that they all seem to cite personal reasons as being the real cause. It is actually normal for mayors to come and go because irrespective of their deeds, mayoral service is a product of labour, itself, a factor of production and unless the system wre being unproductive, it would be very irresponsible of it to tie these men and women to one particular post.

But what is at stake here? At stake is the truth. The refusal to say the truth from our resigning mayors when they throw in the towel, coupled with the local government’s insistence that these civil servants are not fit for purpose, without necessarily saying how and what is at stake is worrying.

I have never spoken to any of those two but i did get a chance to meet former Gasabo mayor, Claudine Nyinawagaga who by the way, it has to be admitted, was a very hard working lady. Reading in today’s Times that she might have got her sack courtesy of a Chinese Quarry at Jabana can only raise one question – just who is it that engineers these resignations and why?

In Europe they call them mafias, in Africa it is the ‘powerfuls’. There seems to be a powerful shot that keeps pulling the strings on almost each and every one of our civil servants. Granted, some of them have been victims of their own misdeeds but when you have some ‘powerful’ voice telling you what to do everytime you try to make a decision while trashing and ignoring what you as mayor has decided is good, there is going to be a clash. And since this is not historical Israel, only Goriath wins!

As recently as November 19, we had Dr. Aisa Kirabo Kacyira coming out to reveal that Nyinawagaga’s resignation was not actually due to personal issues but her irresponsible handling of a tender. That was what those who matter wanted in the public eye and Kirabo being the city mayor was tasked with delivering the news to the public.

Today, Dr. Kirabo finds herself in some drama that could very easily end her reign as second female mayor of Kigali city.

In a letter apparently written by Christophe Bazivamo, the former local government minister has already called for action against the Kigali mayor over something which in my view should have been addressed by the Rwanda Geology and Mines Authority or at least, Gasabo district. But when you have officials in positions where they cant take decisions without some blessing from a certain powerful, what you then get is the opposite of what decentralisation is all about. In Rwanda and especially Nyarugenge, Gasabo and Kigali (around the city) you cant be sure unless you are absolutely sure. Here, you dont need to know where you are going, but where ‘they’ want you to go.


Author: ellyakanga

I am Eleneus Akanga. Welcome to my blog about my experience as a Rwandan journalist and all that comes with the trade in East Africa. It's been a great journey so far but very challenging at times. Join me, let's get cracking!

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