Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame
The president of Rwanda Paul Kagame has said that what Rwanda has gone through in the past year should be a moment of learning to be self reliant and hard working so as to attain the development goals the country has set ahead of itself.
Kagame was reacting to issues of cutting foreign aid and other political implications of the instability in the DR Congo, which he said have shaped Rwanda to become ‘stronger’ as a nation and its people determined more to succeed.
The President was addressing the first press conference, since the beginning of this year 2013. The custom monthly media address was held at the presidents offices today, January 21. The conference also brings on board local and foreign media.
Majority of questions from the media representatives focused on the way Rwanda was adapting to the aid cuts from donor countries which happened late last year, the position of Rwanda on issues of conflict resolution in African countries especially the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda’s current economic situation.
Kagame said that Rwanda’s position was very clear and the same position has over the past days been made clear to the UN and other critics- whom he referred to as ‘They’.
Rwanda’s Leader also stated that the decisions and actions by the donor countries didn’t actually depended on a UN report, but other factors that had been long standing. He said that though the report that accused Rwanda of the Congo conflict was based on a fraud investigation, this could stop them (donors) from taking action as they wished.
“My view is that this didn’t happen because of the reason they gave but issues before that…those who took action didn’t even wait for the fraud investigation to be concluded. Every day this makes us more prepared and hard working to become more self-reliant”
Kagame noted that the UN report on Rwanda and cutting of aid in itself was not a surprise to him and such a scenario was not exceptional or unexpected in his view.
He also stated this situation should be conceptualized in a much wider concept not just single isolated aspects since the developing countries had less to control on some of the matters.
“I don’t think we should be looking at this as just a one- off kind of thing happening. It has to be contextualized, and the way to deal with it is not so much a few technicalities, how you play with numbers and what you do and don’t do” he said.
“I think it has to be put into a much wider context of economies like ours of small countries still developing and to a great extent still depend on many things that are not in our control. Am sure before all this happened we have had such discussions of soul-searching – for many years saying how can our countries develop and register growth and stop being dependent on such aid”.
Kagame said that there is need to instead talked about how African countries can stop being dependent, a move that has to come with a change in the mindset and attitude of Africans.
However, Kagame said that on the side of Rwanda, there has been a lot happening in the year 2012- some of which was not good for the country but Rwandans were prepared for the different responsibilities in this year and they (Rwandans) wish to move.
On the issues of Congolese people accusing Rwanda of being the major problem causer, Kagame said that the problems in Congo were not anywhere related to Rwanda and Rwanda was very willing to help the Congolese people, as good neighbors to restore peace in the country but Rwanda should not be blamed for the internal conflicts in the Congo.
“I wish the problems of Congo were closely related to Rwanda, we would have resolved them long ago, but we don’t wish them bad luck at all. Rwanda would wish to live with a neighbor that is thriving because their progress would transform to our progress” he said.
Adding that, “I don’t change their opinion, but if they have decided to say that Rwanda and its leadership is the problem of Congo; that will mask their problem longer than expected and the real problem would remain…and that is very pathetic”.
On the issue of Rwandans position on participating in peace building in conflict torn countries of Africa, Kagame said that the objective has always been that Africans come up with a single neutral force to intervene in such situations; however this objective has been retarded by lack of capacity.
In particular he said that Rwanda has taken part in peacekeeping missions and was more than willing to support, but for now the country is under limited capacity to send forces anywhere.
However, on the issue of the economy of Rwanda, Kagame said that the general image shows the residents were proactive and striving to transform their lives, however there was need to increase efforts of encouraging local investment so as to increase Rwanda’s exports in the regional markets.
He also called on local leaders to explain to residents the essence of the Agaciro Development Fund, since it was an idea that was developed out of the wishes of the Rwandans. He said that even though residents think that it is a good idea, there is need to have their opinions integrated into the think-tank, so that the idea (Agaciro fund) is fully implemented.
The media also raised issues on the government institutions setting up media outlets which has resulted to competition with the private media houses especially radio stations. Kagame said that this was not fair and the role of the media should be left to the media.