2017 Elections: Sustaining a transformational leadership

Published by Prof. Nshuti Manasseh
On 15 June 2017 saa 12:28
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Last week, Rwanda’s two major political parties namely Social Democratic party (PSD) and Liberal Party (PL) endorsed the candidature of President Paul Kagame as their presidential candidate even ahead of his given endorsement by RPF NEC slated this weekend.

To some observers/commentators this move was misinterpreted for reasons known to them, most of which are distortional of facts and or misinformation.

These observers/commentators allege that, leaders of these parties voted with their stomachs as this endorsement ensures that, they will retain their jobs after August 4th elections. This allegation is simply malicious in that, whether these leaders endorse President Kagame or not, they are assured of their jobs by virtue of the form of government in place where the winner does not take it all.

Our national unity government is such that, even if RPF wins hands off it is bound by political arrangements in place to share in government positions with other parties who have been in the coalition for some time now. In fact RPF cedes 50% of all senior positions to other parties depending on their performance in elections. This is true for ministerial positions, parliamentary, senatorial, ambassadorial and other senior positions in our country. Thus the aforementioned argument is a distortion of facts.

Some of the commentators also argue that, since these parties supported the 2015 referendum that led to the amendment of the constitution that granted President Kagame a third term, they can’t stand against him in the forth coming election. Where as this argument is valid, it nevertheless leaves out facts that led to such parties being party to the referendum. Some of the explanation to this development is informed by the experience of the leaders of these parties with President Kagame.

Hands on Experience:

Some of the leaders have held ministerial and other senior positions in our country and have hands on experience of working with and for President Paul Kagame. If one is open minded and most are, you can’t fail to appreciate the leadership skills and national decision making capacities endowed with President Paul Kagame, that leaves the rest questioning their own. His charismatic leadership style that is idealistic in nature, and yet delivers real results has baffled those who work with him. His ambitious out of text supply driven economics has demystified the laws of economics held very dear..demands creates its own supply. For President Kagame, supply creates its own demand. This is unorthodox in traditional economic theory, but one that has worked in Rwanda mainly due to his high moral authority that spurs this.


It is such admiration of leadership qualities rare among most Rwandan leaders that has set him apart and led to his transformational capabilities against all odds unimaginable financial and human. It is this person of President Paul Kagame that these leaders endorsed. Thus their candidate as well. In my opinion, this is a personal endorsement of President Paul Kagame, and not party endorsement (RPF) for even if they are in national unity government each of these parties espouse different ideological agenda. Secondly, their endorsement is as a rational choice as it was for 95% of Rwandans who endorsed him in the 2015 referendum and should not be construed for selfish intent as this would be an insult to the intelligence of majority Rwandese whose endorsement was in national interest and not self interest.

Elite Political Consensus’, and Ideological Maladroitness

Other commentators have argued that, such a vote highlights weakness in these parties and for others a sign of ‘elite political consensus’, and ideological maladroitness. It is unfortunate to misinterpret high sense of discernment and appreciation of a heroic leader by leaders of others parties as sign of weakness or elitist when his transformational leadership has changed the lives of the poor of the poor through such schemes as Girinka, and ubudehe that provides safety nets to our poor folks; to the elite and business men as can evidenced by our urban economic landscape.

In case of elite political consensus, such term defines the opposite of Rwandan politics that are glass-root driven to serve all interests, void of entitlements, cronyism, and ethnic distributive economics that characterized old Rwanda for far too long.

Transformational leadership and Changes

That our country has experiences transformational changes in all sectors of our economy, and by extension in the lives of average Rwandans is not debatable even by the diehard critics of our government, most of whom have not been part of this change, and do not want to accept that it happened, for doing so would be to vindicate the mess they left in our country and with our country. Transformational changes has first and foremost been acknowledged and appreciated by rational Rwandans, and later on put on record by both multilateral as well as bilateral agencies, which have either been party to this change, or watchdogs over the same and have to give reports on such sectors as economy (in particular record poverty reduction levels of uplifting one millions Rwandans out of poverty), social sectors such as health, social security, unit and reconciliation, law and order, orderliness…pick any sector. These have been rated tops by international independent rating agencies

Such changes have been case study for other Africans and beyond, who have dubbed it many forms including ‘miraculous’, un-African (coordination of our activities and orderliness thereof) name it. But theses change have not been self-propelled. Rather, there has been causation process responsible for this. Exemplary leadership by President Paul Kagame which has mobilized and coordinated the underlying causation process that has led to the changes we witness.

Research Evidence:

In his research on development economics and defense, Bellaver (2004) posits that, leaders emerge once in lifetime of a developing nation and leave a developmental record that is unmatched for generations to come. He points out that, it is only strong institutions that can only sustain such transformation record after such leaders have left office, and without which such a record is but, a golden passing cloud. He then argues that, leaders are born and managers trained. That a country with a manager and not a leader, has nothing to show for her transformational agenda. If his theory can be validated in our case, President Paul Kagame, is such a lifetime transformation leader our country has ever had as his actions are hugely trended.
For most part, our institutions/achievements are still work in progress and in fact some are even in their conceptual framework, that, they cannot withstand serious shock, internal or external if these were to be subjected to change in leadership.

We have come from quite far as a people and country, but the journey is much longer too. Disrupting this process by any means and forms for emotive reasons or otherwise has a price tag, we may not afford to pay as a people.

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Supporters of president Paul Kagame during 2010 presidential campaigns.