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Speech by H.E. President Paul Kagame at the closing of the 9th leadership retreat

Gako, 6 March 2012

Senior Leaders of our Nation,
Heads of our High institutions,
Ministers,
Parliamentary representatives,
Heads of Security and Defense institutions,
Ambassadors,
Senior leaders of the different agencies;
And our international friends who are here to support our country.

I want to thank you all for the productive period we have been here for this retreat. I believe that what we have done in the last few days has met expectations. I think we have had a good retreat.

Every retreat has been better than the previous one. We have seen progress after progress for the last few years; and this years 9th retreat reflects that progress. I have read in a report where an assessment says that past retreats did not achieve much and therefore a waste of time, but I do not agree with this. The mere fact that there was a thought about holding a retreat in itself is an achievement.

Having said that, I wish to also remind us all that there are things we need to work hard on; you will agree with me that there are problems we have continued to identify at every retreat which keep being addressed year in year out. In some areas, there has been little progress or no progress at all.
These are the few areas that I want to come back to;

We are not going to continue making progress if we do not master how to manage a number of processes we are involved in as we go about our responsibilities and work. This will involve co-ordination of people, institutions at different levels. We must be able to speak to each other for the purpose of putting our energies, resources and thoughts together, so that we can make a breakthrough on some of the problems that continue to hinder the progress of our development. Let us understand the cost of not managing these processes properly. We need to keep in mind that not communicating with each other, not working together and lack of co-ordination will be a huge cost to all Rwandans.

We are all working for a common goal and one purpose. We may be many individuals, institutions, levels and come from different backgrounds and have diverse responsibilities but we all converge on one purpose; that of fulfilling the purpose of the development of our people and country. We may have issues, different opinions and ideologies, but we need to harness all that and emerge as winners for the development of our nation.

The main failure is for us to fail to tell the difference between us as individuals and the institutions we serve. Sometimes we are not able to draw the line and we end up confusing the two. This is where general and national interests are dependent on individual whims, irrespective of the obligations of institutions, individuals are supposed to serve. It is absolutely critical that we maintain the understanding that institutions are above all of us as individuals.

Mistakes are made because in the whole process of thinking about what must do, we end up choosing to do what falls in line with our individual interests instead of the broader demands of our country and people. That’s why some of us can afford the luxury of forgetting to do things that under normal circumstances we are not supposed to forget. Rwandans would be served better if we did not have to keep repeating and reminding each other about some issues. Why don’t we implement what we discuss in retreats and other forums? Yet we seem to understand them quite perfectly. This is closely linked to the pathetic situation that our country is in. We all need to do our part if things are going to move forward.

Do not misunderstand this to mean something is terribly wrong; this only applies to a certain context. Looking at how far we have developed and where we currently are at, I must commend that we have all done quite a decent job. But because of the urgency of our situation to move forward, I have to keep emphasizing some issues.

When we do not fulfill our promises and are required to account for things we are supposed to, we should not start looking for whoever might have exposed our weaknesses. The issue should not be who exposed the weakness but the weakness itself and how to find corrective measures. We should focus and address real issues and desist from dwelling on pettiness. Let us not talk about each other, let us instead talk about issues and this way, our targets will easily be met.

Once again I want to thank you all for the good work and promises that there will be improvements. I also appreciate the friends here today from all over the world, different backgrounds and institutions, who have accepted to suffer with us as we try to write a good story that Rwandans deserve. As we leave here we should not remove our combat gear; instead we should tighten our boots ready to confront the challenges that remain ahead.

Thanks you and have a good evening.