Hello everyone!

It has been a long time since we had meetings like this. But I think you are all doing well. Even though we are facing difficult times, we have to do all it takes to make our lives better going forward as usual.

To you all leaders of our country: ministers, governors, mayors and all in different institutions, I think that this time of Imihigo, is a vital time for our country, for our performance in building it and continuing to develop it.

The time for Imihigo is a pledge to deliver. That means to set targets or goals you want to achieve, which in turn means the development of our country. It is not only about “Uguhiga”, to sign on paper. Guhiga means to do the right things and achieve our targets. We can’t live without goals, we have targets. We need a good standard of life, we need development, we need security. That’s what all Rwandans desire. They expect that from us, their leaders.

From what we’ve been explaining, those who spoke about governance, economy and what the Prime Minister told us in brief, where we came from, where we are now and where we want to go and how things are being done, it gives us a measurement that explains to us that we have our targets, to know better how to achieve them. How is our performance? How can it be accelerated, where does it bring us?

But we have to always remind people.  Reminding people is not wasting time, it’s important. Those who are reminded have to keep in mind that they don’t have to waste time. They are reminded how important things are, things that you were aware of, but you forgot because of understandable reasons. You can’t always wait for a reminder for you to do the right thing. That’s not good.

And some things are even easy. There are difficult ones. There are also those made difficult by the lack of resources. But there are also easy things because there is the will to do them. What does it take to have the will to do and do it well, to progress? Where can we find the will? Whom can we ask? What does it mean? When you have all means….because I observed, I followed what was being said, there are things that were not done, or that were not fulfilled or that were not done well, and people tell you that the budget was not missing, the budget was there. Budget, that means financial resources, is usually the problem.

But to say that you haven’t done something you wanted, you vowed to do, that you know that people need, and the budget was there, how does that make sense? What does it mean to you? I will not ask those with no budgets these questions, or those that have other issues that would make sense. One has to be patient, find a way and try. But when that is not the case, what happens? You just find out that the institutions didn’t talk, they didn’t work together. Or that it wasn’t done because someone waited for them to buy something for them, give a bribe. They first beg them so that you give them something in exchange.

And you only find that authorities did not talk to each other, that they’ve failed to collaborate. Or that things were not done because someone is waiting to be bribed.

How one understand that? Why is it that, like our country that has…or that leaders did not do the planning or think through, what they had to do even after they had the budget was to think and they did not do any planning.

How do you explain that? Why? No one did the planning, how? What did you do? What were you doing? What other thing did you do that has more value that made you forget the planning you were supposed to do? What were you doing?

If it’s saying that you don’t know how to do planning, you don’t understand it. If you’re a leader, we can forgive you that. Those are human weaknesses. But what you can’t do, someone else can. Find those who can. If there are things I can’t do, I find those who can, those who understand more than I and I ask them to do it for me or we do it together. And if they want me to pay them, I do it because that is what the budget is for.

I will pay you for doing what I can’t because there is no leader who knows everything, But how can we fail in everything? Even our duties, and things that we can do, and we only sit and are comfortable, and on top of that, add the cost by asking other people to pay for it, to pay us for it. Bribe, bribe is a huge cost! So, what’s the whole point of guhiga, and how and when do we achieve them?

Or you want us to create jobs of coming here to discuss this matter other than guhiga. So, gathering here for us to guhiga it’s also a job that we have created to come here and say what we have accomplished and what we have failed and we leave here without the aim of doing what we agreed or what we failed before but with the aim of coming back here. To come, sit and guhiga again just for the sake of it.

Sometimes I wonder, I was going to say that Rwanda, we Rwandans as we are here….there are times I want to say it and then I leave it, to say that people like us should not be allowed to work like this. but then I say to myself: who deceived you that this is so? If you have a mindset that tells you not to do certain things, who told you that others can’t?

There are times I tell you things, and I think we are in this together, we have the same aim of doing the right things, of working with the means we have, the rest we will find it. There are times that I forget that we are all not the same but I wish, my wish is to say that we should all have the same goal/vision and stop the small talks.

We reject the mediocre and aim for better because it is what we deserve. It is what we want. But then I will always swallow my pride and say okay, it’s their right to do what they want, and behave as they wish. So we will wait for them until they eventually understand, and those who are committed will come and support the existing efforts and move forward together in that way.

They tell you that’s how the world is structured, that’s people’s nature! You are all aware of another example, even if you can overlook it. As we move forward, the young generation is getting employed, including those with international experience, graduates who come back to our country Rwanda and get employed in public institutions or start their own businesses, etc.

Maybe, you return home from an institution you’ve been working for abroad, where they are strict with their core mandate and if you do the opposite you get dismissed straight away or they arrest you if you don’t abide by the law.

So, owing to their stringent regulations which require cautiousness in terms of work and abiding by laws, employees are well-paid, but in case you breach the laws, you definitely pay the price in one way or the other.

So, and when people who are used to those practices come back here and start work, their colleagues begin telling them to calm down and they even discourage them by saying their zeal won’t last for long – intimidation. And, people start intimidation to the scale where someone feels exhausted or they start boasting and discouraging the newcomers by saying they also attempted the same initiatives. They say, come and give it a try but you won’t succeed, because we all failed.

That becomes their starting point to discourage new employees, instead of saying give it a try because we don’t know the reason for our failure. Help us and try your best and maybe if you succeed, we will all gain. They don’t do that.

The starting point is telling the new employee: you are here but that enthusiasm will shrink very soon. People who work like that, what pride do they have for doing that? Why would you do that?  Why? You even realise that people who are not part of that wrongdoing, they hear it and make humorous stories around the same subject, instead of denouncing those practices and say we want people to collaborate with towards sustainable development.

On the contrary, you start by discouraging those who come back to serve the country. You just wish them ill? Why can’t you let someone try their best and face the same hindrances on their way instead of dispiriting them in the first place.

Therefore, to you leaders, mayors in particular, governors, I have just heard the rankings that the Prime Minister presented to us. I have identified a pattern in them. I am not sure whether you also see the same pattern. The top five were not performing well in the past, is that true? That’s what I realised. Further, the last five districts on the list were among the top in the past. For example, Musanze and Rusizi, I am not sure if they had poor performance in the past. You might put the blame on Covid; we can presume Covid to be the motive, but it is not the case.

Musanze used to perform well, what happened? Mayor, where is the Mayor of Musanze? I think there have been at least five mayors in a year.

But, let me give her an example. Recently, I was in Musanze and I met the mayor twice or three times. Is governor Gatabazi here? Remain standing. You know how many times we met in one or two months.

You remember what I asked you when we met. The things that I personally saw in Musanze when I spent a night there and saw them in the morning, then I asked you about things that should not happen at all. I asked them why such things happen, and they did not even have a clue about what was going on. For instance, the same day from morning to midday or 2 pm, I looked around and saw fire and smoke in a very big area of land.

I was curious to know what was happening only to find out that there were people burning the forest and burning charcoal, I asked them “do you know what’s being done here, this charcoal business?” And those doing it have been doing so for a long time. I asked those leaders: Do you live in this area, this district? Even the governor though he is responsible for a much larger administrative entity, but spends more time in Musanze district, he should be knowledgeable about what’s being done there. I asked them: do you see that smoke? Surprisingly- none of them had seen it. They only acknowledged seeing the smoke when I pointed in the direction. You remember when you arrived at the place you found out that they were burning the bush, busy making charcoal.

Yet, the two leaders know we are making efforts for the reforestation of the same site. A few days later, when I returned to Musanze…. you are well aware of the investment done in tourism including these high-end hotels…. I was going to one of the hotels, One and Only, and realized people built other buildings with almost similar business encroaching almost the compound of One and Only Hotel. And this was done after it was launched, creating chaos in a place that is supposed to be serene…

On other occasions when travelling in Musanze district, I see children in incredibly dirty clothes, yet you see they are well fed. I then asked them, you leaders- what do you make of it when we always call for cleanliness, when we say that our children, Rwandans ought to be clean given that hygiene is key in preventing diseases? They start again to invoke unending excuses…Should you only be doing right things because someone else passed by and asked so?

You leaders living with the population, staying in such areas, why can’t you see those problems?  Governor Gatabazi- tell us what you do on a daily basis that makes you not see those issues raised. I am asking you but this question is equally addressed to other governors- because I don’t think they do a better job than you. What do you do on a day to day basis?

Musanze district mayor- what’s the problem here? What’s missing? Will you be addressing such issues only when I am coming or visiting the district? When I ask you if you see the problem? What’s really happening? Then you start elaborating the good plan you have in place… I am telling this to Musanze district mayor but also to all mayors as well: why such issues? What’s missing?

Musanze district mayor: Your Excellency the President, frankly speaking, nothing is missing and we pledge to make more efforts to resolve the issues raised about One and Only

President Kagame: How about the time wasted? Are you taking that into consideration? It has been five, ten years that we commit to doing such things and then at this time you are telling me you are going to make more efforts…but we have wasted time…

Musanze district mayor: You are right Your Excellency the President, we have wasted time but we are going to deploy more efforts…

President Kagame: I do not agree with you because this has been happening for quite a long time and for many people. I don’t agree with you also because it seems you do not see the problem and without seeing it, you won’t do anything about something you don’t see. What can I do about you not seeing, realizing there are issues?  I don’t see how you can sort out things if you can’t see there are problems. You don’t have enough courage to tell someone when he is wrong. Why?

You can’t even do that and it’s problematic. You can’t tell someone, you can’t tell people you supervise when they are doing wrong things, that they shouldn’t, you don’t have courage…In different provinces, districts, people building in marshlands

On a recent weekend, I was travelling in Kigali, I called the mayor and Minister Gatete…Are they here? I also want them here.

As I was travelling in the city centre, I showed them wrong developments, things that shouldn’t have been done- For example, construction companies ….- yes, we need such activities- but these companies have put construction materials where they shouldn’t resulting in blocking pedestrians’ passage. A part of a newly tarmacked road was also obstructed.

Some people blocked the road on the pretext of construction and poured sand creating a heap that blocked cars using the road. There is also another place, where the constructors poured all residues after constructing, blocking trenches where water would have passed. They placed big stones, blocked sidewalks for approximately 200 meters. They left them on the road instead of taking them away for proper disposal. Did you see that? I had to take you to the scene and show you since I had passed there.

All this was happening while the likes of Gatete were seated in offices on telephones. And as for the mayor I don’t know, what kind of operations these are.

Take another example of the sidewalks. You see how in the city those walkways were constructed. They were built for people to use, for pedestrians to walk on. The government invested money in them, but builders mix sand and cement on them and leave the remains there causing damage.

And what happens next is seeing these leaders appearing before cabinet claiming they don’t have the budget to make repairs on the damaged sidewalks. But this is the same thing that was destroyed that they wish to re-make.

I told the mayor that it didn’t have to take much skill. if I found someone damaging the road or any other public infrastructure or project, then he or she must be held accountable and other penalties can be applied, instead of seeking funds from the state. And it’s our job to protect the infrastructures that belong to the people and us all.

The people who destroy them should not be tolerated. I wonder at times, when you see those destroying such projects, don’t you feel concerned? Don’t you have a backbone? So, it’s not right. You can sit down and I hope you think of how you will go and fix what needs to be settled.

Obviously, you see some of these districts that have not performed well right away. Somewhere there has to be a leadership issue. For instance, all 30 districts will not scoop the first position, but the difference is that the gap between the one who came first and in the middle will be narrow. Or compare the last one in terms of percentage and how many times they appeared on the last position. For instance, when you have 40%, of course you are below average, but when you are the last with 70%, it shows there was a great competition for great marks since the first could score 90 something percent.  That’s when you realise that you are performing well when one has 70, and 75 respectively and the last with 70%.

So, there are issues regarding poor service delivery. This issue is recurring and I wonder how one can explain it. Is it a matter of knowledge or skill? It’s not just a matter of knowledge, it’s a matter of having knowledge of how things operate or not. That’s what gives us bad service. This is totally wrong and its bad manners. Imagine if I go to seek a service, and someone is on the phone, and by the time they are through with that, tell you off badly as if you’re in the wrong. That’s not a problem of knowledge, it’s lack of discipline.

You don’t serve people as if you owe them anything. People don’t have to pay you to provide them any kind of service.

Rwandans do not owe you any fee to obtain public services. They paid you long ago. Rwandans have paid because they are the ones paying the taxes. They are the ones who pay the taxes from which we get salaries for those who should be providing the services. So, they have already paid you. What is that extra money you are charging for? Or why would you delay them? So the rest goes into the culture of the … Recently, there is a conversation we had, that the Prime Minister is aware of. Things that inhibit projects, and people just say to you “you know we ought to give close attention to techniques that need to be used.”

Technicalities cannot be an end in themselves. Technicalities are there, they can be modified, they can be gone through quickly. They are not an end in themselves. The end is the services, the result, is the product you get out of it. It cannot be procedure, this … you know, you see … even regulations. Laws are made to ensure that things are done properly. But there is no law to hold things back or to prevent them from happening. No.

Sometimes there are people who interpret the law to prevent things from happening, instead of its interpretation being of doing things right and quickly. People delay in legal procedures, in technicalities, and turn this into an excuse so that people come to realise that when you delay things you are powerful. So, they have to be flexible and have something that should make you happy. They must please you so that you give them service. It is appeasing you. That is to say, “you see, if he didn’t wake up well, we have to humour him, present him something, and worship him in order to please him …” No, no, no, no, no. The procedures?

The first thing for a leader or anyone who wants to solve a problem is to find out how things can be done well and quickly, and have the confidence that it is possible, rather than start looking for a way to halt it. Because, there are those who perform their tasks but first look for …., and start from what might make it harder for that task to be completed than to find out how it can be accomplished. That’s why they jump in and say “eeee, the law.”

Whoever says the law or the procedure, all of a sudden don’t just think, “It is right, because he mentioned the law. Indeed, people fear the law, people respect it. So, when I quote the law, people will understand that … ” Hm, hm.

The first thing you should be aware of is that if you refer to the law, I will ask you “but, yes, the law. Let’s build on that, but see how we can speed things up.” We can’t ignore the law. But, does the law prevent you from abiding to it and to move fast? Does the law require you to go slow before following it? Is that what it means? There is no law that exists to prevent the right thing from being done, or doing it fast. Of course in your language you also need to keep off.

One would ask you why you delayed a task or did not do it, and you say, “caution must be exercised on these things.” What does caution mean? What’s the time for caution? What time does it take to be cautious? What is the time allocated to caution on everything? Caution just means make sure all the requirements are met. Period. And to say that you are cautious only to do something without first thinking, “but how are these things done normally?” so that you don’t really have to break that law.

But the law gives people the means to do what they should be doing. There is no law that prohibits people from doing what they ought to be doing. Whereas caution… Ok. What does caution mean? For what are you doing that?

Yes. If something takes time to do, then you start thinking of “what is it that I am doing in this time? How am I doing it? How fast am I doing it?” But it is not caution. What does it mean to be cautious in Kinyarwanda? Try to explain it. What is caution? It is making yourself like this to … uh? When asked, “But why didn’t you do this?” And you say “I didn’t do it. I was being cautious.” uh? So, what is caution? Caution has no meaning in saying you did nothing at all.

Caution doesn’t mean doing nothing, it doesn’t mean being very slow in what you do either. Whether going slow or fast; such a speed is proportional to the constraints you have in the execution of what you are doing.

Otherwise, if you are going from here, from this hotel heading to town, for one it might take… Okay, if you want to be cautious and that ends up taking the whole day, I don’t know the meaning of it. You can be cautious, leave here by car, drive carefully without running over people, or something like that, and arrive in five minutes.

But no one will come and say to you: “but you were fast, why weren’t you cautious, from there to here?” So, how much time does being cautious require?  What time does it mean?

No, cautiousness is relative to what you are doing, and what you must take care of in doing it.

Otherwise, the rest, like forgetting and things of the sort…

Even today, when I was coming from the city to here, driving, I was observing. When I sometimes see things I feel the urge to get out of the car to ask, “by the way who is the leader of this place? What, who is this, uh?”

Who is the one of Kayonza? Where is he? Mayor of Kayonza?

Yes, for this town of Kayonza, it’s not enough what we have put there and the road we built there. There are well constructed houses by the side of the road, there are compounds and what is there is going to destroy our road because it’s muddy. You get out of a nice iron-sheet or tile roofed house, I’ve noticed, but when you get out, you step into the mud.

Dirt… you came out with other stuff to hold stones, I don’t know, things that get crushed first then applied to the stones, but when it rains water carries away those stones. That’s how most of them are. Imagine, how can someone build a nice iron-sheet roofed, five bedrooms’ house but fail to build the pathway? Uh? Mayor, you are the one I am asking. Don’t you see that?

Mayor: It’s the case, Excellency President of the Republic.

Why is it? What is it waiting for?

Mayor: As you have said, Excellency President of the Republic, there is no way someone might build a house and fail to work on the pathway. We need to pay specific attention to that.

So, do you want me to come and remind you of that and you get in trouble with me?

Mayor: No, it won’t be necessary that you have to remind me, Excellency President of the Republic.

Okay, I am addressing you but I hope that others are also picking it.

I don’t know what people….

Let me conclude on a light note and leave you so that you can go to work. Do you see where we are sitting? Where you are also seated. I was looking at you seated here, myself I’m seated in this chair. In front of me, that’s how you are (tilting). It showed even on the screen. Now, those who built this tent, the engineers, are there engineers who built this, uh?

Do you feel comfortably seated? Look, start from Shyaka and the Speaker. One is tilting down (the other tilting up) it’s because of the setting of this place. This is how they built this floor. We are all like this. It doesn’t need someone with special skills; if it’s bending you find a way to straighten it. It’s as simple as that.

For you who set these (tilting) things… I was seated over there almost falling off and wondered why, then I realized this part is elevated and that part is lowered, and you all came and seated with no problem.

Someone might think that the masks we have on are covering our eyes while they are only on the mouth. Does anyone need the mouth to see? Why don’t you see it? Have a look when they show it on the screen. You’ll find that it’s like this (tilting).

Simple small things but apparently, no one …

I was quarrelling with IT guys here. We actually have screens to display people. When they call someone up, they’re supposed to appear on the screen. But they kept calling up people, or mayors to be recognized for good things they’ve done, but on the screen, they displayed people giving us their back and looking away. I asked them (are you fine mentally?). I will spare you the explanations they gave me. They told me about someone who was late, who didn’t come, whatever, things of the sort… And many among you are still young,, you aren’t old, all of you here. So, we did try to select the youth, young men and women who are still fresh and you are also being “CAUTIOUS”. Why don’t you leave cautiousness to us the elders and maybe you (can go fast)?

So, Prime Minister, I think you have corrected the previous imihigo. The reason we had stopped them is because you had turned them to be like all of those things I was talking about. Imihigo lost meaning to the point that one was doing whatever they wish, saying whatever they want, and evaluators just giving marks without knowing why. Last time, they were about to organize it and invited me but I declined and said to them “I am not attending such Imihigo, you can go ahead and do it, not me.”

The reason why we changed the way Imihigo is done is because people were doing whatever they wanted. Those who were supposed to evaluate were not sure of the perimeters to use.

Last time, those who wanted to award marks for imihigo invited me but I refused and told them I won’t be part of such a process and told them that if they wanted to do it then they should go without me.

I will not be going for Imihigo where people will come and lie. You also went for that Imihigo and were lied to but it is good that some of the things were corrected and there is still more that needs to be corrected.

But you should hold these people accountable and the Ministers are also taking note of this and need to correct the mediocrity.

You must question and understand the right questions and when it gets to that level, more questions should be asked not people to come and lie and spread stories and you just consume that.

The one who has been lied to is put in a dilemma while the one who has lied starts thinking that they are very clever. That is not acceptable, Rwanda needs to be a country that we all wish it to be.

Distinguished Guests and Leaders, thank you, let us start from here and see whether we can move forward towards actions that spur development. But before I forget, we talked about Covid-19 and its implications which are obvious.

In trying to deal with the implications of Covid-19, there is a lesson that we learned and I talked about it briefly last time I was here. A place like this which is near the border and other places that border other countries in the north, east, south and west, I really hope that Mayors and Governors of these places are here, and other institutions. One problem that happened is that we let people who live near the borders to become citizens of countries that border Rwanda and they look for services from those countries and that is because local leaders were not providing services to those people.

Those services include schools, hospitals, consumable goods plus many others.

Gatabazi, do you remember Gishambashayo. You had given it to people over there.

But before that what had happened, why did it happen. Another example is near here where we are here.

Governor Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi; Afande, the market had stopped but it is now operating and we are working.

It shouldn’t have stopped in the first place and that is what I disagree with. Even here, our children shouldn’t cross the border to study in another country or fetch water from another country. I hope that doesn’t happen again.

Where is the Mayor of Nyagatare? Are these things still happening? They used to happen. I don’t want to hear of such things again.

Mayor of Nyagatare: You will not hear of such things again, Your Excellency.

Don’t allow such things to happen again. Also, other sectors including the private sector.

Are there any private sector people here? I thought the Private sector wants people to do business and sell goods. Is the market in urban areas enough? You have left people at the borders to buy from other countries, yet you have commodities that you should be selling to them.

Don’t be slow, use whatever means you have. But these things of someone wanting to buy a matchbox and they have to cross the border. Someone who wants to buy drinking water has to wait for water from another country yet we have industries that produce these goods.

That is not right, it is not right. I believe that due to our circumstances and politics, we should be a market for people in our neighbouring countries.

That is what we should be aiming for. They should come and buy from us not us going there. This is what our politics and economy should embark on.

I see people writing that Kigali should be a service hub. How do you become a hub operating like this?

Alright, thank you very much. Let me hope that next time the measure of imihigo will show that we have advanced in one year.

Thank you.