Lamin Manneh: Speech at the launching ceremony of the Rwanda Governance Scorecard (RGS) 2012
The Right Honourable Prime Minister,
Honourable Minister for Local Government
Honourable Ministers and Senior Government Officials Here Present,
Honourable Members of Parliament
Yours Excellencies Ambassadors and Heads of Diplomatic Missions,
The Chief Executive Officer, Rwanda Governance Board,
Representatives of the Civil Society and Private Sector ,
Dear Colleagues from the One UN Rwanda Family’
Distinguished Guests, memebrs of the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen,
All Protocols observed.
Allow me to start by saying to you all, Mirwe, Good Afternoon, Bonjour.
It is a great pleasure and honour for me to make this statement and comments on the 2012 Rwanda Governance Scorecard. Let me thank the Government of Rwanda and RGB in particular for this appreciable gesture, which I believe reflects the productive partnership with the One UN Team in Rwanda.
Permetez moi aussi d’experimer notre gratitude vers L’Honourable Premier Ministre d’etre avec nous ici cet après midi malgre votre agenda tres charge.
Your Presence here is an attestation, if need be, of the high importance President Kagame and the Government accord to the issue of good governance.
As most of you are no doubt aware, the United Nations also places high priority on the pursuit of good governance and stability because they are critical preconditions not only for sustainable development but also for intrinsic human fulfillment.
It is for this reason that we always note with satisfaction the measurable progress Rwanda has made over the past two decades towards national reconciliation, rebuilding of social cohesion, law and order, personal and national security and accountability as well as the nurturing and strengthening of national capacity for deepening good governance in particular through home grown initiatives. We also appreciate the notable advances that have been made in public sector reforms, decentralization, anti-corruption measures and evidence-based policy makingand evaluation. We have also been recently reminded of the remarkable progress Rwanda has made in the area of female representation in Parliament and in the other decision making structures. These are all key dimensions of good governance.
These very positive achievements that Rwanda has registered in good governance may at times be taken for granted, particularly by those who may not be familiar with the country's history. Coming from where it did about two decades ago these achievements are no doubt the results of not only strong and committed leadership and hardwork, but also of the courage and willingness to take very innovative approaches to the attainment of the ideals of good governance.
On the other hand, it is the case that to many other observers who are very familiar with Rwanda’s political and social evolution over the past so many years they do not recognize what they consider to be the true ideals of democracy in their conceptions and beliefs.
But Albrecht Schnabel of the widely respected Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces notes that “Democracies come in various shades, depending on the historic, political, ideological, cultural, economic or social contexts and experiences that shape the ways in which the rule of people and by the people is organized”.
This point is reinforced by Dele Olowu, the famous Nigerian Social Scientist when he noted that “In the last two decades, governance has become an important issue in development policy discourse and social research. Yet a lack of conceptual consensus on the term results in a multiplicity of definitions”.
Some of you might start asking why I am going into these rather abstract things: I am doing so for two reasons: the first is that contrary to popular perception, the definition of the term democracy does and should vary. The actual practice of it across different countries and regions do differ. Compare Italy, UK, Germany, China and Japan etc. The second reason is to underscore the fundamental point about which almost everybody agrees that despite the different definitions and practices of democracy, certain key strands remain the same and these are: participation of the mass of people in electing leaders and in governance processes; accountability of leaders to the people who bring them to power; ensuring civil liberties; maintaining the rule of law; ensuring national and personal security; efforts at controlling corruption; devoting adequate resources for human or people development; maintaining high levels of service delivery; creating conducive environments for economic and social development; and nurturing institutions for peaceful change of power.
So I believe that you will all start to recognize all the key elements of the Rwanda Government Scorecard in these! Not so? These brings me to our direct comments on the 2012 Rwanda Governance Scorecard the main elements of which have just been presented by RGB.
In general we in the UN believe that the Rwanda Governance Scorecard is a comprehensive governance assessment tool which reflects continued commitment by the Government to evidence-based policies, laws and programmes that have continuously driven reforms in Rwanda. More importantly, the RGS’s focus areas, the eight score indicators, comprehensively cover all the critical dimensions of good governance in any context that I have just referred to.
The UN has been relying on data generated by the RGS as a basis for its baselines and setting targets in the process of planning since the RGS was introduced, and have found it to be a very useful analytical tool.
Regarding the methodology, we are satisfied that the RGS combines global governance research methods and international standards with an in-depth understanding of the Rwandan context. The RGS 2012 specifically, uses both global and contextualized indicators and relies on new local data, including perceptions of Rwandan citizens and expert surveys, as well as hard data from Rwandan institutions. This underscores RGB’s commitment to rigour, accuracy and transparency.
Opinion: This methodology is rich as it ensures international standards in research and surveys are adhered to, it also takes into account the local socio political and economic realities. Thus the results of the study speak to the realities of Rwanda, but are also comparable at international level. The self-assessment in the RGS is inward looking and is a sign of commitment by the Government of Rwanda to change from within and thus a catalyst for continuous improvement.
The findings are also quite revealing: All the eight indicators have recorded a marked improvement, save for the one on Investing in people which dropped from 82.41 in 2010 to 78.8%. The most improved indicators are on Rule of Law (67.71% in 2010 to 73.37 in 2012) and Safety and Security (from 87.26 in 2010 to 91.35 in 2012).
Opinion: We take note of the change in indicator number eight (from Business Promotion and Private Sector Advocacy to Economic and Corporate Governance). This is a more comprehensive indicator and covers a wider scope with well-developed sub indicators notably, improvement of cross borders trade and sustainability of small and medium enterprises.
The improvement in all indicators point to the success of the continuous reforms the Government has embarked on. Particularly high improvement in the indicators on Rule of Law as well as on Safety and Security show that the efforts of the Government in creating a conducive environment for people to live in peace and prosperity and for investors are on track.
The indicator on Quality of Service, which is the lowest at 70.44%, points to the need to continuously improve on quality of service and accountability in delivery. In any context, this is a key indicator for gauzing Government’s performance, at both the central and local levels.
Conclusion: Our main conclusion is that the democratic process in Rwanda is on the right track and the Government continues to make efforts to nurture it. Many of the areas that critics poit to are works in progress, as underscored by the 222012 RGS results. RGS 2012 has improved compared to RGS 2010; CSOs participation however still needs to be improved; Service delivery in Local Governance improved greatly, although some gaps still remain; We would urge the Government and the key stakeholders to work hard on areas that need improvement, especially service delivery and stay on track regarding the best performing indicators.
Opinion: The UN agrees with the conclusion of this study. Areas that have slipped down the ladder need to be jointly addressed with other stakeholders so that the indicators can remain on course. Innovative ways of addressing the indicators scoring lower such as the civil society participation also need to be explored.
We are also pleased that the policy recommendations are specific, relevant and timely. They are fully linked to the EDPRS 2013-18 priorities. Implementation of the recommendations will definitely lead, to a greater extent, to the achievement of target in EDPRS. We also note that the recommendations speak to the UN priorities as outlined in the UNDAP 2013-18. There is therefore room for continued and strengthened cooperation between the Government and the UN system as well as the Development Partners in Rwanda.
The UN is already responding to the recommendations on the rule of law and political rights and liberties, through a joint programme on Access to Justice which will be implemented under the Ministry of Justice. Further, the UN joint programme on Inclusive Participation in Governance (2013-18), to be implemented with RGB, addresses some of the recommendations on participation and inclusiveness, including promoting women participation in leadership at decentralized entities, which is addressed by the IPG joint programme as well as the joint programme on Advancing and Sustaining Gender Equality in Rwanda.