Whose Government Is It Anyway

 By Deo Lukyamuzi

Abraham Lincoln, American 16th President is credited with what has become a universally famous quote, “government of the people, by the people, for the people”. He coined these wise words during a brief speech he made at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, in honour of the fallen soldiers of the American Civil war. 
Many people around the world yearn for such government that dedicates itself to public service. No government in the world is able to achieve perfect scores in terms of fulfilling its people’s aspirations because people do not aspire for same things at same times and also because some governments try harder than others and some succeed than others. This only confirms what we already know that, managing state affairs is applied rather than being a pure science.


To tell if a government is of the people, for the people and by the people, it does not take a political scientist. Its actions, inactions and gestures are self-evident for its people to judge it by. As a historical witness to the performance of the Rwandan government of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), I want to labour and pass a historical judgment, based on a few indicators, whether RPF’s, is a government of the people, for the people and by the people.
To be fair, I will base by judgment on universally applied standards putting in perspective the country’s historical context. These universal standards are; Service delivery, accountability, democracy and human rights, Peace and security and national objectives. Every government the world over has to be preoccupied with its performance in all the above mentioned sectors others wise that government can only be part of the national problem instead of being part of the solution.

Service Delivery. Service delivery means the ease with which citizens of a country access basic means and necessities of their day to day life demands. Elasticity of expectations varies from country to country depending on its level of development. If we consider countries in the same ‘Developed Countries’ category, accountability from government by the citizens is more consequential. Any citizen dying of hunger would constitute a national scandal, any citizen dying at a health facility entrance would call for an inquiry and people would lose their jobs and /or possibly prosecuted for criminal negligence. Any children of school going age should be able to attend school otherwise accountability would be demanded from both local and national authorizes. In short, when the state compiles the various statistics which constitute what we call the ‘state of the nation’, those statistics are very important and the government of the day has to address or strive to address areas of weakness in order to improve the welfare of the nation.
Developing Countries such as Rwanda are not expected to deliver neither the same level of quality service nor the same quantity because of many bottlenecks ranging from insufficient means to poor institutional infrastructure. But these poor countries are at least they are expected to deliver services achievable within their means. 
Rwanda is certainly a classic example of poor countries and its capacity to deliver services to its citizens is commensurate with its limited means. However the story is not as simple as that. Presently, the Rwandan President has three aero planes including one presidential jet and two commercial aero planes that he rents out and the proceeds going to him personally and his political party the Rwanda Patriotic front. The question on the mind of any observer is how can a president of such a poor country be able own three jets?
Accountability. The concept of accountability does not only refer to justifying expenditure vis-à-vis allocated resources but, also the judgment and motivation behind how, when and on what do we spend. After the 2003 presidential elections in Rwanda, Presidedent ‘elect’ Paul Kagame celebrated his ‘victory’ by riding along Kigali streets atop a snow white armored personnel carrier (APC). Yes, it was impressive and yes, Rwandans who saw him passing and who were seeing this vehicle for the first time, who could even believe if they were told it can fly, were impressed and they probably believed Kagame can never be defeated in any way or form. But that is exactly the point –Kagame’s regime has been cultivating through outright lies, exaggerations, coercion, paid public relations, name it that what they have done over the 19years since genocide, has been nothing short of miracles. They oppress, suppress and terrorize at home while running a multi-million charm offensive internationally through paying world figures to sustain the lies. London and Washington are awash with current and former leaders, renowned journalists and celebrities who are fattened by Kagame on the backs of impoverished and malnourished Rwandans, to keep falsifying the Rwandan Reality.
Any visit of Rwandan country side brings one in contact with citizens who still transport their produce to the market on wooden cycles. People young and old walk bare-foot under the scotching sun because they cannot afford a single pair of shoes or sandals. People still trek kilometers for water and the spend hours line-up at water wells or ponds to fetch waters using very rudimentary techniques. More than 80% of Rwandan population cooks by burning firewood and a “well-to-do minority cook with charcoal. The Country still experiences endemic electricity shortages and load-shedding is a daily feature and will still be for the fore-seeable future.
Kagame’s government has been boasting of revolutionary transformation of the health sector and how 90% of the population is insured under an insurance scheme known as ‘mutuel sante’. Apart from the fact that the people are indiscriminately taxed for this health insurance scheme, there is nothing to show for it in reality. The following are indicative figures by the World Health Organization (WHO) giving a true picture of Rwandan health sector in year 2012:

– Doctors per 10,000 people: 0.6+%
– Nurses/midwives per 10,000 people: 6.9%
– Dentists per 10,000 people: 0.1%
– Pharmacists per 10,000 people: 0.05%
– Psychiatrists per 10,000 people:0.05%

From the above WHO figures of health workers, one wonders how exactly the Rwandan government covers, as it claims, 90% of the health needs of a population of 11 million people. Similar figures exist in other sectors such as the economy that portray incredible discrepancies between reality and claims.
For years, the Rwandan government embarked on an ‘’ambitious” program of one laptop per child. This is one of the fool-hardy exercises this government has engaged in since coming to power. The question we have to ask ourselves before getting mesmerized by such ‘ambition’ is, why? Why does a country with stone-age electricity infrastructure think its priority is for every school going child to have a laptop never mind even if they do not have electricity to recharge them? Even developed countries in the world that have achieved total electrification do not make this a priority. How exactly does Information Technology become priority for a government whose population is so hungry that they resort to eating dog mean which is a cultural taboo? And, this hunger is partly due to an RPF government policy that forced farmers to cut down there banana plantations and replace them with growing of flowers for the Dutch market. In normal terms, such acts constitute what we refer to as CRAZY! To Tony Blair, Clinton, Farid Zakaria, Rev. Warren, Andrew Mwenda, -It is genius. I wonder what these gentlemen would call dog eating in Rwandan culture –delicatessen? Lucky are they, for they don’t have to share it! 
The Rwandan government under Kagame is more interested in impressing the world than solving daunting problems of its people. The President Kagame will burn the meager resources of the country to go anywhere in the world with an entourage of advisers, just to receive meaningless awards by student clubs, friendship societies and community associations some of which his own government orchestrated.
Rwanda’s current government is one of the worst abusers of human rights in the world. Not only Rwandans live in fear of speaking freely, their choice of who they would want to lead them, means absolutely nothing to the RPF government since elections always turn out the way RPF wants them. People property is confiscated on a regular basis by functionaries of RPF regime and their cronies with absolutely no consequence nor accountability. Far from being visionary, as members of his fun club love to call him, I think President Kagame is a self-absorbing dictator more interested in impressing the west than solving Rwanda’s problems. His government manages Rwanda as a company limited by shares and dividends go to Kagame, his family, friends and international business partners. It is not a government of the people but one that exploits the people for selfish gain. So, all the chatter we hear about Kagame and his achievements in reality is loud-sounding nothings, as Prince Metternich would describe it and, he will continue to do the same as long as he continues to be praised praised by those who don’t own shares in the ‘Rwandan Future Enterprise’

 

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