Kigali, 22 December 2015
President Kagame has called on African leaders to work harder in order to improve the status of the continent, which is now rated as the poorest continent on earth, despite the abundance of natural resources. President Kagame said this while addressing a press conference at the conclusion of this year’s Umushyikirano, which was attended by local, regional and international media.
President Kagame addressed various issues concerning Rwanda, the region and the continent at large.
On the issue of the much talked about issue of term limits, President Kagame said this was not the main problem holding Africa back, but rather the issue of governance.
“The problem of Africa is governance, which is where lies the answer to why the people are the poorest when it is the richest continent. African leaders need to do better. All of us. We need to show we can make things happen without depending on what outsiders deny or give us. Why are people of Africa the poorest yet it is the richest. How do we resolve this? Is it from serving one, two or three terms? Term limits may be part of Africa problem but not the whole problem. Since when did the main problems of Africa add up to how many terms someone is serving? You can rule one term, hand a mess to another person and get a prize for quitting power but nobody rebukes you for leaving a mess.”
On the numerous criticisms concerning the referendum on Constitutional review, which Rwandans overwhelmingly voted in favour of by 98.3%, President Kagame said there was a lot of contradiction and hypocrisy in the voices of those criticizing it.
“We are told people are bedrock of democracy. When my people tell me something, even before I agree with them, I am accused. Lines were drawn about our determination to keep moving our country forward for our sustainable development. If you tell me that Rwandans are mindless outright foolish then you can say people have made a choice that is not founded. I did quite a lot before I was president. I can still contribute to the well being of my country in or out of office. When I was in the bush, I gave all I had, including risking my life. It was not because I wanted to be President. Longevity is not the issue. The oscillation of views on this issue is diversionary from the main point of governance.”
On the issue of the ongoing turmoil in Burundi, President Kagame pointed out that Rwanda strongly believed that the main responsibility lies with the Burundi leadership and the people before anyone else comes in to help in any way. He said that the fact that Barundi are expecting the solution to come from elsewhere is what continues to make the situation worse.
On the Ugandan elections President Kagame pointed out that Ugandans are mature enough to know how to resolve their political differences in electoral processes and wished them well.
While closing this year’s Umushyikirano after two days of national dialogue, President Kagame reminded Rwandans to expect things to get a bit more difficult as Rwanda progresses, because naturally, when you aim higher, things don’t get easier.
“We try and do better. Ultimately we understand that we are doing it for ourselves, not because we must please anyone or because someone has asked us to do so.You will see less of what we have been criticized for, if what we have been criticized for has been fair, honest and true.”
President Kagame wished all Rwandans a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year.