- Distinguished leaders of the highest institutions of our country
- Leaders in different government institutions
- Distinguished guests
- Fellow Rwandans
Let me start by greeting you.
We are gathered here to witness the swearing-in of new government officials in different institutions of our country.
I want to start by thanking those who have just taken their oath of office for accepting to continue serving our country, especially in these difficult times. I wish you well in your new endeavors.
I am sure where you were also working from, even if it might be in the private sector, whatever you were doing comes back to the country. All of us are working towards progress. And no one can progress without transforming the country because when we do our work well, it benefits all Rwandans in their daily lives.
It is clear that all of us leaders should always be mindful that when it comes to fulfilling our duties in public service, we should not confuse our own interest with that of the country. And when it comes to duties that people are responsible for in government institutions, the end goal is the same: to develop our country. We should not mix our personal interests with the general interest or confuse them. That is why there is a need to see if those responsible for such duties, like the ones you have just taken your oath for, are accountable. That is the very essence of this oath of office.
That means that once you take the oath to fulfill this duty, it means that you accept this heavy responsibility to work for your country and our people and to transform what we have into even more resources. The failure to deliver should be questioned and being held accountable for it should not be a surprise to anyone. It simply means that you have agreed to be held accountable for the duties and responsibilities you have taken on today.
Usually, fulfilling responsibilities demands a lot of energy, but it also demands discipline, which should take the first place in everything we do.
Difficult times such as the ones we are in make your work even more challenging. It requires us to work in unconventional ways. Normally, we don’t hold swearing-in ceremonies like this; we don’t usually sit like this with our face masks on. The reason I am not wearing one today is because I wanted to be able to speak. But I also have enough space for it as well.
In unusual times, people work in unconventional ways. We are getting used to it and I think that we are getting many lessons which help us to confront every challenge that comes our way in these difficult times, and that means there is nothing that we cannot face in terms of work.
From the two points I have just mentioned, regarding responsibilities and working in difficult times; first, responsibility and accountability have been there for a long time. We have been talking about it more often than we actually put it in practice. And sometimes when people are asked about what they are responsible for so that when it has gone beyond the limit people can actually stop it to be able to put things back in order. It has consequences on people. That’s how it works, that’s how it is to be held accountable.
Oftentimes people get sued and are held accountable for their responsibilities, and when it turns out that it was not the way it was supposed to be at different levels, some failures being heavier than others, and you see people getting shocked. It is us the leaders, we are the ones who hold these responsibilities, and we are the ones who must respect them.
So the reason we come here and swear that we accept to be punished by the law if we stray away from our responsibilities, and when one gets sued or punished by the law people get shocked as if it is something new, I don’t understand that very well.
You cannot spend five, ten, or twenty years with the duties you have accepted to undertake, that you have sworn that you accept and know how it should be, in agreement with all of us on how we should abide by the law, respecting what we should respect in our responsibilities, and then when one of us is held accountable because that’s how it should be, people get shocked. The one being held accountable gets shocked and even the others who once met together in a place like this and swore to do it that way.
So you understand that there are many things we have to be careful about, and that’s why I was saying that our responsibilities are heavy in terms of how we conduct ourselves within those responsibilities, which carries even more weight than we actually show. This is the reason why some of us end up being held accountable. But this tradition must be sustained, we cannot afford to step away from our commitments.
Secondly, I wanted to repeat what I said earlier on: the difficult times in relation to this pandemic. Everyone has been following and I would like to take this moment to thank people – be it the leaders, everyone who lives in Rwanda, Rwandans – they understand and try to do what we are supposed to do to protect ourselves from this pandemic. When I get an opportunity like this I want to express my gratitude to you all.
But what is required of us is not to just wait for something that appears once and then we are able to say: on this day, these difficult times will have ended and we will be back to our normal lives. None of us has control over that. No one can precisely say the date on which things will get back to usual. We have very little control over that because we can only predict if we will have done what we are supposed to do.
But for other things in general, the way we get out of the pandemic and whether it will continue or when it will end, we don’t have control over that, we don’t have the ability to do that. What it means is that we need to confront the challenge as it is, as long as it will last, until it ends. When we understand clearly what needs to be done and follow-through, it helps in speeding up the process of getting out of the difficult times back to our normal lives.
I also wanted to say that today was the day that we had decided in our last Cabinet meeting where we assessed the situation, evaluated progress, what needs to be done, what we need to change, how we should change it, and then we have another time to review the situation and if things go as planned, what we had set to change on this specific day will change.
There must have been some misunderstandings on what was supposed to happen but that’s not a big deal. There was even a communiqué telling people that on this specific date things are going to be like this. But we reminded ourselves and said that things don’t only go according to a set date, but depending on what happens on that date as well. When things go well and allow you to adopt change on a specific date, you can change. But when there are new factors, they make you review your plans till a specific date when people can reconvene and reassess if things went according to what you had envisioned. This is why we have paused for a moment so that we can re-evaluate the situation. Some people were caught off guard, understandably.
When you tell people who have been quarantined in one place for months that the lockdown will be lifted on a specific date for them to go back to their normal lives, and when that date arrives you tell them to hold on; they might even hit you on their way out because the set date has come. But this life we are living, we must be patient and do what is right so that we can get out of the situation as soon as possible.
Tomorrow, June 2, we will have a Cabinet meeting to reassess the situation starting with our last Cabinet resolutions, because a lot has changed in the last two days. For the time being, people may hold their breath for two days, and after that, they can breathe normally. We will also have to make slight adjustments because there were some new developments since our last Cabinet resolutions with regard to this pandemic, in relation to what came from outside.
As you all know, for us we have many problems; that is even why our leaders should know our country and its geographical location which requires us to work in a different way in comparison with those who don’t face challenges similar to ours. Because we are a landlocked country, we need to pass through other countries such that our imports from within or outside Africa – depending on where the countries we are importing from are located we might use maritime ways – pass through other countries. In passing through other countries, our imports come with many challenges and even our exports go through all those ports, be it Dar Es Salaam or Mombasa, as we import and export, it doesn’t go without challenges.
We came to realize that there are those who come from those ways or from other neighboring countries even if internally, we had already made commendable steps in fighting the pandemic, we noticed that there were cases which came from those free movements in and outside Rwanda, outside our borders, our exports. All this requires us to understand what we should do in order not to go backward from where we had reached in terms of overcoming this pandemic.
I just wanted to remind you that those who were affected by these changes should bear with us. You should understand that everything we are trying to do in collaboration with all our institutions, what we are trying to do is to confront these difficult times, this pandemic, but at the same time looking for ways through which we can go back to our normal lives. The two go hand-in-hand and we are doing everything possible, we are trying out everything that is within our means as humans. This should be our mindset both as leaders and as citizens. I hope that is how it is understood. Let’s keep being patient and do all that is possible working together, there is no reason we will not prevail.
I would like to conclude by thanking you and pledging my support so that we can continue to move our country forward both in normal and challenging times.