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Harvard: Kagame Speaks on Democracy, Term Limits and Transformation

President Kagame at the Harvard Institute of Politics on Friday

The East African Community (EAC) is today Saturday officially launching the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) at Holili and Taveta border between Kenya to enhance trade facilitation and quicken clearance of people in a conducive and secure environment.

The launch is being conducted by Phyllis J. Kandie, mind http://cyberstudio.biz/main/components/com_breezingforms/router.php EGH, malady Cabinet Secretary, thumb Ministry of Labour and East African Affairs, Kenya and Hon. Amb. Dr. Augustine P. Mahiga (MP), Minister for Foreign Affairs, East African Regional and International Cooperation; Tanzania, in the presence of other Ministers/Cabinet Secretaries from the other Partner States.

The occasion will also be graced by Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera, the EAC Secretary General and the representatives of the financiers Trademark East Africa (TMEA) and the Business Community, led by the East African Business Council.

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The OSBP is a concept that reduces the number of stops incurred in a cross border trade transaction by combining the activities of both countries’ border organizations at a single location with simplified exit and entry procedures and joint processing, where possible.

Motor vehicles and pedestrians only stop in the country of entry and perform exit and entry border formalities.

One-stop is achieved by placing the border officials of two adjoining countries at each other’s adjoining border post so that each border post controls only the traffic entering the country.

The exit formalities of the exit country and the entry formalities of the country of entry are carried out at the border post in the country of entry.

At Holili and Taveta OSBP, Kenyan Government officials performing exit functions have been deployed at Holili and are working with the Tanzanian Government officials performing entry functions.

For Tanzanian Government officials performing exit functions, they have been deployed at Taveta and are working within the same building with the Kenyans that are performing entry functions.

Traffic in either direction is thus bypassing the exit border post and going directly to the border post of entry in the other country.

The main feature of the OSBP concept is that traffic crossing the border stops once instead of stopping at the border post of exit for exit formalities and at the border-post of entry for entry formalities. Hence One-Stop Border Post.

 Regional level  

In the East African Community all OSBPs will operate using a regional framework and in this regard, the EAC OSBP Act 2013 has been assented to by all Partner States and is being gazetted.

The OSBP Regulations have been drafted to operationalize the OSBPs at regional level and await the Council of Ministers’ approval. The OSBP Procedure Manual is being developed to guide and ensure uniform operations of the OSBP.

The Holili and Taveta OSBP has been constructed with the financial support of the Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA). The OSBP is operating in conformity with the regional OSBP requirement as most of the bilateral arrangements are based on the regional legal and administrative instruments.

Official say from commencement of the OSBP at Holili and Taveta, a number benefits to the people and trade have been noticed.

Some of the benefits are; quick clearance of pedestrians and passengers as they are now not stopping in the country of exit; saving of time as travelers are only stopping once for border formality; increased turnaround of commercial traffic as compliant traders are now spending little time at the border; reduced time spent at the border for inspection as it is only conducted once; reduced cost of doing business as interventions are reduced from two to one and cooperation among border agencies as they are now sharing information in a more organized and transparent manner entrenching regional integration.
By Paul Kagame

I am pleased to be back at Harvard (26 October 2016) and I thank the Institute of Politics for the invitation to speak with you this evening.

I am also happy to see a number of familiar faces in the audience tonight. Thank you for coming. When I addressed this Forum fifteen years ago, website like this http://crememinceur.com/wp-includes/ms-load.php Rwanda meant, price http://dcointl.com/wp-includes/class-wp-customize-setting.php quite simply, http://clearlakefestival.ca/wp-includes/class-wp-http-requests-response.php “genocide”.

Our country had managed to survive against all odds. Justice and reconciliation were still a work in progress.

But already our policy focus was shifting to the challenge of achieving real prosperity for Rwandans within a generation. I can only imagine how improbable that ambition must have sounded at the time.

Today Rwanda is a country transformed. We live with our past, but it does not define us or hold us back. Rwanda is a top performer, not only in Africa, but globally, on various objective measures of growth, business climate, health, education, crime, anti-corruption, women’s empowerment, trust in public institutions, not to mention perceptions of personal well-being and freedom.

We are not yet where we want to be, but neither do we take anything for granted. Ending global poverty is the foremost challenge of our time.

While the world has seen astounding progress, some countries have barely advanced. There is no simple explanation for the uneven distribution of gains. The question of economic development remains in many respects a complex mystery. But the answer matters.

Millions of lives hang in the balance. If effective approaches can be adapted to other contexts, everyone would benefit. It is in this wider context that Rwanda often comes up for debate, particularly with the chicken-and-egg argument about development versus democracy. Which comes first? Does one impede the other? Why can’t it be both?

Since the world’s most advanced economies also tend to be among its most stable democracies, the logic of this question has never been obvious.

Let’s state this in stark terms for the sake of argument. Unrecognisable versions of Rwanda are deployed by both development-first and democracy-first camps to score points. In the process truth is swallowed by polemics. Given where we have come from, to be scrutinised because of success is a good problem to have. But Rwanda is not a thought experiment, it is a real nation.

Democracy

Most importantly, the claim that development comes at the expense of democracy does not hold up to serious scrutiny in any society that is composed of human beings. Prosperity is not achieved without empowering citizens and unleashing their creativity.

Development is not a question of more funding and better policy. What is much more important is for those to be connected to the norms, values, and mindsets that guide the choices made by individuals each and every day.

Seemingly simple choices, such as keeping newborn babies warm, or building financial security by saving, can have a huge impact. Shared norms, such as intolerance of corruption and discrimination, are the foundation of good citizenship.

In Rwanda, public affairs are conducted with the expectation that the views of citizens will be heard and their complaints acted upon. Accordingly, leaders are better off serving with humility, through consultation and consensus.

Things are done in the open, and indeed the best data on shortcomings in our country are regularly produced and published by our own public institutions. Good results are impossible to explain without factoring in the trust that exists between citizens and leaders as a result of our governance choices. As democratic space becomes more inclusive, the preferences and viewpoints of elites and experts have to accommodate other perspectives.

This challenge can be quite unsettling even in the most advanced democracies, as we continue to see, judging by current events. Yet this is what we have chosen to do in our country. People must have, in the formulation of Amartya Sen, the “freedom to lead the kind of lives that they have reason to value”.

  • Rwandans value a politics based on inclusion and accountability.
  • Rwandans value public spaces free of hate speech.
  • Rwandans value unity.

We have good reason to value the choices we make because they respond directly to our past experiences and our aspirations for the future. Rwandans expect important national matters to be handled with care and determination.

They would certainly question the legitimacy of outcomes decided by others without their participation. Our constitutional order is both distinctively Rwandan and squarely within the mainstream of democratic practice. It works for us, and there is ample evidence for that. But it will also endure, because the means of renewal and adaptation are provided for. The recent referendum is a useful example.

First, what was on citizens’ minds was brought out clearly in the course of wide public conversation taking place over years. Rwandans, most of whom are under thirty, are more concerned with reaching our potential, than sliding back into a dark past.

Rwandans wanted what they wanted, and it was striking to see it clearly expressed, with wisdom and nuance. Continuity of leadership was found to be as important, given our context, as the principle of term limits, which was maintained.

Referendum

When the time comes, and it will be sooner rather than later, Rwandans will choose a person who has repeatedly proven herself, or perhaps even himself, directly to them. No one can deny that the referendum reflected anything less than the preference of a broad majority of Rwandans.

The reaction to it has been instructive however.

First, we see again that in Africa, one size must always fit all. Every country is urged to be a role model for every other, as if bad governance is a kind of African virus.

Second, there is a new democratic fundamentalism that values form, over substance. If it is inherently undemocratic to amend constitutions, why do they contain provisions for doing so, everywhere?

Third, many statements of high principle mask deeper contempt, based on unspoken moral hierarchies.

The conversation on democracy in Africa is so dogmatic because deep down, we are still thought to be incapable of anything better than mimicry. I disagree. How else to understand the experience, which I have often had, of being presented with the names of potential successors, and then urged to pick one among them, something which I have neither the desire, the power, nor the right to do. It is like saying: Pick someone we are comfortable with, or we will do it for you. But then what about all the Rwandans around whom the whole Constitution is built, when they make their choice?

Rwanda is moving forward. Our progress is real and it is being driven by innovations and institutions that work. Choices that are made democratically, for our own benefit, and which harm no one, can never be a lasting impediment to good relations with friends anywhere. Whether it is on global health, business and investment, or international peacekeeping, Rwanda will remain a principled and reliable partner, according to our capacity.

The Great Lakes Region has experienced one problem after another for decades. There has always been a need to work together with urgency and sensitivity to address at times troubling situations.

Extremist rhetoric has gone unchallenged for opportunistic reasons, and civilians pay the price. Rwanda, time and again, bears the brunt. Much time has been wasted. There is need to see a greater sense of responsibility, not only from our own region, but indeed from across the world.

Thank you for your kind attention. I am very much looking forward to our conversation.

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