Honorable Guest of Honor;
Honorable Executive Secretary of the National Consultative Forum for Political Organization;
Distinguished Governors of Provinces;
Honorable Members of Parliament both Chambers
Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners here present;
Distinguished Representatives of Government Institutions;
Distinguished Representatives of Civil Society Organizations and the Media;
Distinguished representatives of development partners;
My dear colleagues from the ONE UN;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;
All protocol observed;
It gives me great pleasure and honor to be here today at the occasion of the opening of this conference on political dialogue. This conference serves as a platform that brings together all registered political parties, development partners, representatives of the diplomatic corps, government officials, CSOs and the Media. I wish to extend a warm welcome to all participants here present and in particular all speakers panelists in this conference.
On the outset, I would like to express my gratitude to the Guest of Honour, for gracing this event by his/her presence despite his/her many responsibilities. I also would like to thank the National Consultative Forum for political organizations (NFPO) for organizing this political dialogue and associating ONE UN as a partner in building democratic values and principles as well as the national cohesion.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
The main theme of this conference is about “Theoretical approaches of political pluralism and consensual building mechanisms for national cohesion in Rwanda”. This set a foundation for the conference participants to discuss what Rwanda has achieved as a country in building democratic values and principles. Such great achievements include the setting up of institutionalized political party platform and political dialogue mechanisms for national cohesion in Rwanda’s social and political transformation developmental context.
It is believed globally that there is a close correlation that is seen between a well-functioning democracy and sustainable development. Societies that enjoy good governance have a much higher prospect of achieving social and economic development and improving the welfare of their citizens.
But democracy and good governance also create space and give expression to the basic human desire for freedom of association, freedom of speech and conscience, and the desire that we, as humans have to periodically choose the people who would lead us.
While one has to acknowledge that these basic aspirations are universal and can be found everywhere around the world, in each country there is a specific interpretation of these aspirations. Democratic institutions, norms and practices are constructed to reflect the cultural and historical realities of each country and each community.
Looking at the actual practice of democracy worldwide, one has to acknowledge how it differs across different countries and regions. As was noted by Albrecht Schnabel, the respected analyst of democratization processes of the widely acclaimed Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, I quote: “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”.
Yet there is broad consensus that despite the different practices of democracy, certain key strands remain the same. These include the unbridled participation of the mass of people in electing leaders; accountability of leaders both at central as well as at local level; respect for human rights, the rule of law, as well as national and personal security; well-functioning multi parties system; sustained anti-corruption efforts; allocation of adequate resources for human development; maintaining high levels of service delivery; ensuring conducive environments for economic and social development; and nurturing institutions for peaceful change of power.
By all accounts, Rwanda has made great progress in promoting good governance values, and much of this progress can be attributed to the adoption of numerous home-grown solutions, and the strong and visionary leadership of the Government spearheaded by H. E. President Paul Kagame. I would also like to acknowledge the pivotal role played by this very platform, the National Consultative Forum for Political Organizations in rebuilding democratic values and principles especially the National Cohesion and ensuring that all registered parties can come together for dialogue despite divergent political opinions and ideologies that they build on. Bringing all political parties together for them to voice their diverse opinions, appreciate the comparative advantage in each opinion expressed as basis for constructive dialogue and reaching the consensus a peaceful way is one of the greatest basis of national unity. Rwanda demonstrated that from a diversity of political opinion and divisive history, it possible to create customized framework for inclusive participation in governance if the wellbeing of the people we serve is given due attention and priority.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to take this opportunity to commend the excellent work of the Government of Rwanda to sustain and deepen the democratic values and principles. The recently launched Rwanda Governance scorecard- 5th edition showed commendable progress in areas such as rule of law, security and safety, control of corruption, transparency and accountability as well as political rights and civil liberties. This said, and this has been echoed by his Excellence the President of the Republic of Rwanda, H.E. Paul Kagame at the National Dialogue (Umushyikirano) this December, there is more we can do to achieve the national transformation through the NST and Vision 2050. The President said I quote “From experience, we also know that we have the power to multiply the speed and scale of progress. For leaders especially, this simply means doing more of what we are already capable of, using the resources we have, and to do it right now, not later”. The Rwanda Governance Score card pointed out to areas requiring further attention such as Vibrancy of Non-State Actors in Policy Formulation which is still at 67.3%, Citizen Participation which is at 65,6% and social protection which is still at 63, 7%. The forum gathered here today is crucial in generating innovative ideas which could help the Country to achieve its development ambitions. As this gathering brings together political parties, the meeting could also look into ways of further promoting the contribution of political parties as the indicator related to Political Parties Registration and Operations scored 76,8% while the sub indicator political parties operationality scored 63,5%. We indeed need to build on what has been achieved and make an extra mile, moving from good to great.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
At the UNDP, we have been honored to be part of this process since the very beginning and I would like to reiterate our continued commitment to strengthening the political participation and dialogue in Rwanda. This support is embedded in the UNDP Program on “Deepening Democracy through strengthening citizen participation and Accountable Governance” - a five-year partnership between the UNDP and the Government of Rwanda which will run until mid-2023. In partnership with NFPO, the programme has supported the empowerment of youth and women political participation across all political parties partnering and strengthening political parties regular dialogue, review of their manifestos and address some of the major knowledge and skills gaps in electoral processes. To this end, UNDP supported the youth leadership academy and the establishment of women wings across political parties. This is done within the framework of inclusive citizen participation.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
The process of building well-functioning democracies is necessarily a long-term one and is very dynamic in nature. Thus the approach adopted by the One UN - UNDP Rwanda towards supporting the processes of deepening democracy and bolstering good governance in Rwanda takes into account these realities as well as the country’s specific historical context. Our programmes aims to work closely with the Government, through the Rwanda Governance Board; Parliament; the national commissions in charge of unity and reconciliation; the National Electoral Commission; the Forum of Political Parties; the Ministry of Justice, the Rwanda National Police but also the Media and CSOs as well as with other development partners in addressing areas of improvement. We strongly believe in joining forces to maximise the effectiveness of our interventions and we remain committed to pursuing partnerships with all governance stakeholders to further deepen democracy in Rwanda.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As I conclude, I would like to express once again my gratitude to the National Consultative Forum for Political Organizations, the NFPO, for hosting this important conference on political dialogue, and to all the governance stakeholders, the civil society, the academia and development partners for attending this conference which I believe will greatly contribute to ongoing efforts to further promote national transformation.
As we approach the festive seasons of Christmas and the New Year, I take this opportunity to wish all of you and your families a Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year of 2019.
I thank you all and wish you fruitful discussion.
Thank you for your kind attention, Murakoze Cyane.