People of Ruhango,
Hello. I greet you all!
If there are people from other districts, I greet them too.
But first, besides greeting you, I would like to say that I am glad to have this opportunity to visit and talk to you.
It’s been long since I was last here. I should have returned to greet and visit you after what had brought me here. I remember we last met during the election period. During the time we met, we made many promises and I see a lot has been done on your part.
During elections, you voted as we had agreed and you voted well, and with that, I was left indebted to you.
I couldn’t pay off all the debt. But we’re still persevering. What I can’t afford to repay on the government’s side has been mentioned.
As stated by the mayor of this district, access to clean water at only 60% is not satisfactory and it’s not right. So we still have a debt. We have to achieve at least 80% or 90% at all costs. This debt is one that I feel I haven’t been able to pay.
There is a debt on the government’s side and we must do everything possible to pay that debt. But for the government to clear the debt effectively, it also requires your additional effort to fulfill what was promised then.
As for water, roads, electricity, and to a large extent in the agriculture sector, and many more… schools, hospitals, the major role belongs to the government, and with that debt we have to find ways to solve these problems to a satisfactory level.
Your role has also been mentioned. The first role is to work, and work hard! Doing what you can, doing what is possible, even when the government’s involvement is available, has been achieved. This drives your ability to work and achieve more for yourself.
For instance, in agriculture and livestock farming, the government has the role of supporting Rwandans by offering them seeds, providing capacity building, giving them fertilizers, or even water that can be used in agriculture and livestock farming. But those who participate, you are the ones who have to work. So all this complements the other.
There are other established activities that have been achieved successfully. If it is a road that is constructed it should be well constructed, and also used properly by maintaining it so that it is not damaged, so that we can have more time to use it in a resourceful way. So that’s what we ask of you, and you as well have what you also seek from us.
Another example in the agriculture sector is where you produce cassava. There are two things that must complement each other. I was informed of a factory that produces cassava flour at only 50% of capacity. In the past, the production had even gone lower. But my question is: why not at 60% or 70% or even 80%? That needs to be solved.
There are two sides. There is what the factory set and in which the government had a role. There is also the fact that the factory would not process without cassava. So, cassava should also be available in plenty. The factory should also have the ability to produce the flour, using enough cassava. The farmers are required to grow more cassava to make a profit, and be able to transport it to the factory ready to produce flour equivalent to the amount of cassava that they have grown or it has received.
Increase the value of everything we do, have cassava in plenty, have a well-operating factory, where the flour produced is of high quality for Rwandans and even export it for the community abroad. I was informed that in foreign countries, cassava flour was appreciated but has not been available there of late.
So you realize we are losing a lot. There is money that you as cassava growers should be receiving, money that is lost by the factory because it is not producing enough. Those abroad are still waiting for the time you will deliver enough flour, and good quality flour. Whatever you do, don’t forget that it must be of quality.
For the roads, we will commit to it, I think I told you that I came to tell you to be patient with me, be patient with the debt I still remember. Sometimes we can’t do everything as we want or as needed, because sometimes there are many things to do that are needed, and there are no resources… We are always searching for opportunities everywhere… That’s why you see things are done halfway and until the next time we complete another, so it is not carelessness.
I don’t want to speak for those who are negligent… There are those who are negligent, and that too is our responsibility to remind them of their duty. You know them, you know them better than me.
There are things that the district leadership said that have been solved. He mentioned corruption which was also highlighted by Minister Gatabazi, leaders who don’t work with the local population thinking that people are the ones supposed to look for them.
It is not possible for every person to go to the district offices. It is very difficult. And most times when people go to these offices, they find that the leaders didn’t come to office. And when you come back or if you find the officials there, sometimes you find that they don’t have time. It is better when local leaders meet with the people they serve so that they work together to solve the many issues affecting them.
I also want to thank you for something before I forget. The pandemic which affected the whole world, including Rwanda. It affected the country financially and also affected people’s incomes. We dealt with it in a very difficult way and some of those ways needed people’s understanding and sacrifice.
What I mean is this. It required us to tell people to wash hands frequently so that we maintain good hygiene. The second thing was maintaining distance between ourselves yet we were used to hugging, being close to each other, holding hands, walking while holding hands. And yet when the pandemic hit, it meant that people would not socialise, be close to each other, but had to maintain distance so as to stop the transmission of the virus. We had to stop some things and that is why the government told people to stop doing certain things.
It was more important for people to choose good health over some of our cultural practices and that is why people choose good health. There were other measures which were more stringent like “Lockdown”
Lockdown meant staying home and not moving out. Staying home without seeing relatives, close friends, not getting close to other people, not being able to greet people is a big problem. But I want to thank everyone in the country, starting with you for listening to our advice and doing everything possible not to spread the virus.
But there are also people who lost lives in the pandemic, and that number is not small. But after getting the vaccines, we managed to save many lives and that is why I want to thank you for heeding our call to get vaccinated and also for our leaders for making sure everyone was vaccinated.
Even after getting the vaccines, the pandemic kept spreading in other parts of the world than Rwanda, that is why I want to thank you for making sure that you followed government guidelines because in other areas, people refused to be vaccinated. There were also rumours that the vaccines are not safe for people. In other parts of the world, some people refused to get the vaccines but in Rwanda, we explained to people and they understood.
There is a person who I will not mention by name, he is a person who we meet with regularly in different areas of the world. When we met, I told him that I was vaccinated, and he told me that he has not been vaccinated yet and he added that he is not about to get vaccinated soon but unfortunately he told me that he had lost two relatives to Covid.
I asked him why he doesn’t want to get vaccinated yet he kept telling me that he had lost relatives to Covid? He told me that he had people who are medical experts who said the vaccines are not safe and that they can harm people.
I asked him whether the vaccines affect people immediately or in the future. He said that they affect people in 15, 20, 30 years. I told him that you are scared of what will happen in 20 years when there is something that can kill you right now.
I told him that for me I had decided to get vaccinated because I want to protect myself today, next week because the virus is killing people including your relatives. I told him that in 20 years, another vaccine will have come to protect us in case there are complications.
When the vaccines became available, we gave them to the people. Whenever we would get them, we would take them to the people that needed them. What we wanted was for the vaccines to get to us, in whichever quantity, and for getting to people, giving it to them. Those who wanted them were many. Some people declined to get vaccinated and fled to Congo, others went to Tanzania while the rest went to Burundi. But we followed up with those countries to help us explain to them so that our people come back and if necessary we would leave them so that they don’t become refugees just because of fleeing vaccination.
However, most of those who came back were educated about the vaccines and in the end, they got vaccinated. Right now some are still waiting for the supposed after-effects of the vaccines but they escaped the consequences of not getting vaccinated because it would have been fatal for them
I have dwelt on that because I want to elaborate on Rwandans’ culture of taking heed of the advice of their leaders, understanding issues quickly, understanding what is beneficial, and doing what is asked of one.
People must not dwell too much on politics because we know where bad politics led this country. We know where we have come from and have no desire to go back there.
Understanding what is beneficial to your country, what is beneficial to all Rwandans, working together to prosper; that is how countries developed and that is how countries develop. You cannot develop when you spend your time in conflicts,
Most times science is good. It helps when you want to understand, to follow it. Of course, it also has problems, but those are solved by scientists. But leaders are also there to explain what they are trying to do, and why they are doing that, and the government also helps by defining a policy framework to follow.
I am happy that I have re-paid one debt of visiting you. I didn’t come here the other time because I only wanted your votes, No! There is a lot that we share and that is what brought me here so that we put some things in line.
I had missed you and I think you had missed me too. My debt of visiting you has been paid, I have listened to your problems, the problems that need our attention, we will make sure to solve them together. You too have a role that I mentioned, we have our role as government and there are guidelines to be followed so that everything works well. What else do you want me to say?
What I am going to do is to take some time and listen to you and you can ask questions, you can tell me whether there are things we didn’t do because of time constraints. You can remind me if I have forgotten some things. And this is not the last time I am coming here.
Thank you, the floor is now yours!