Kagame delivered the message on Friday 30th April 2021 at the RPF extended National Executive Committee meeting held at RPF Inkotanyi headquarters in Rusororo.
The meeting held in compliance with ongoing COVID-19 preventive measures, brought together over 650 members.
It was also attended by various guests including top Government officials and youth representatives.
Kagame also urged Rwandans to strive for inclusive development and stand against whatever tends to separate them.
Regarding efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the President told gathered cadres that there are some achievements not only commendable at national level but also internationally.
He highlighted that RPF Ikontanyi has responsibilities to uphold its fundamental doctrines to build around discipline which has been the key enabler for the political party to achieve its agenda.
Kagame also talked about other issues of national interests, urged Rwandans to strive for common goals, identify priorities, make right choices and avoid whatever that tends to turn them against each other.
Good morning everybody,
RPF Leaders, Vice Chairman, Secretary General, Commissioners, leaders here present, cadres and invited guests from other organs of our country, who we always invite to such meetings. I am excited about this meeting, the first of its kind this year 2021. Today we intend to revisit our responsibilities, examining how we have fared lately, especially in view of the current global challenges, though what mainly we need to focus on are particularly what directly concern us.
You realize that you are wearing face masks. They are a symbol of what we have been dealing with. And I take this opportunity to emphasize the need to wear them properly. Some people cover only the mouth leaving out the nose. The name ‘agapfukamunwa’ (mouth cover) has been taken literally to carry the meaning that only the mouth is to be covered, leaving out the nose. That is not the case. If it were possible even the eyes would be covered.
Starting with the pandemic, historically both our word and our action are equally important. What we say and how we conduct ourselves should always feed from good discipline.
Discipline as bedrock of RPF ideology
The RPF ideology is only applicable where there is discipline. When it is lacking a lot gets lost along the way and only so little is achieved. This is true to the extent that people even get so used to scoring minimum percentages. Instead of aiming higher to achieve best results possible, say 90%, people tend to settle for as little as 30%.
This I am saying as way to remind ourselves of our values so that we can move on fast and tackle other issues.
RPF must be characterized by focusing on the need to solve general issues for the general populace. With us there should never be discrimination based on religion or region, or whatever else you may use to define unhelpful differences. RPF is a unifying factor, never to separate or divide Rwandans. That is why I just said our performance against the pandemic shows how far we have gone. Let us celebrate our respectable achievements because they have been laudable in Rwanda, the region and around the world. We all share the credit as it has been a collective effort.
Having said that, we also know well that where we took one step forward, we could as well have possibly taken two or even more. And if that was potentially the case, why was it not possible to do better? For example, why would we wait for a whole year to solve a problem which could have been handled in say a month? If we could have saved 1000 people, why save only 100?
In dealing with the pandemic, our ways have stood out and our resolve has been clear. Confidence in self plays a big part. We put into practice what we believe in, beyond mere talk. That there are some few Rwandans not in conformity with the rest of us who are focused, that is ok, because society is like that. People do not move on the same pace. We do not share similar convictions.
The sham claim about lack of space
For example, out there we have detractors who claim baselessly that in Rwanda it is only misery. That no one opens their mouths or freely associates politically. They claim lack of freedom of speech and other freedoms in an anarchical atmosphere, and so on. Let them say whatever they want to because when they do, truth comes out. Uttering irresponsible falsehoods is a sign of freedom of speech being in place. It only is being misused and abused by the very people who allege it is not in place.
It is important that we speak out against lies. Keeping quiet is not an option.
Because when we do, the ones who smear Rwanda will be believed by the innocent and uninformed.
It is now time to look at how we have behaved during the pandemic. First, I apologize for those who have been inconvenienced as dealt with the pandemic.
Including the people who were apprehended at a so-called wedding ceremony. Part of the noise made was that how could authorities arrest brides, instead of wondering why the honorable brides chose to violate the covid rules. In the first place it was evident that the wedding was only a cover up, otherwise they had been engaged in some other altogether. Unfortunately, even leaders have let us down by getting involved in such misbehavior. They often get distracted from their duties and deviate into flimsy things. Yet we should always be mindful of our unique situation, because as RPF and Rwanda, we cannot afford to do things ordinarily, including saving resources. We must sacrifice.
Take the example of the vaccines that are this little (400) so far against a population of almost 14m. How many people would we save if we did not approach things from the RPF point of view of fairness? Problem is that people simply sit down there and wait to be reminded of doing right thing at the right time. It should not be like that.
Genocide was a result of political bankruptcy and madness
In this month of April, we always Remember. One, we Remember the innocent masses who perished because of who they were. We also bear in mind all the time that the cause of death to these innocent souls was bad politics. We must never forget that all these people should never have died.
Which brings us back to the pathetic politics of destroying a people. How and why did we accept to be divided, to the extent of family members turning against each other? It was an unbelievable level of madness, which we should not lazily attribute to external factors. We need to come to terms with the truth that we are entirely responsible for the madness.
So how do we address this problem? First, we must identify who we are, what is in our interests and what serves our best interests. Are we a people who cannot identify who we are, what our best interests are and how to fight for and achieve them?
Failure to identify the three has contributed to the indiscipline we talk about every day. If we are not disciplined now, it will be difficult to identify who we are and what serves our best interests. When we have failed to understand who we are, what we want and how to achieve it, that is when the external people and factors have ago at us, because we have given them opportunity by losing focus on what is important.
We should not be like grasshoppers
There is this story about grasshoppers which I am sure you have heard about before. When they have been collected into a container before being fried, they fight each other fiercely, forgetting the common threat awaiting them outside. Imagine they get on each other’s throat even as they await their death sentence. We should not be like grasshoppers who forget they will end up in a single saucepan to be fried. They go for each other’s legs, necks, feathers, and so on, before their final verdict. That is characteristic of a society that is defective. People turn on each other before the external enemy finishes them off.
Thankfully, I was long liberated from their grip, and I speak my mind freely, without any harm done to me. The question is by the way, if I did not do it like that, how would you advise me to go about it? Give me the better way to live with them and I follow it if it serves us well. My point is that even if you stooped too low for them, you would still end up in a hot pan where they will fry you. And there are lessons around us, all over the place, to learn from. You know I had the opportunity to remind them recently at Kwibuka27 on April 07.
The other day I was listening to a conversation between Gen. Romeo Dallaire and Gen. Henry Kwami Anyidoho of Ghana. They were addressing the subject of denial, reflecting with regret how they could not do much to stop the Genocide denial. What is not debatable though, is that we have the capability on our own hands, in our limited means. The abundant truth which we know should be applied without being bothered by what is beyond us, to challenge the denial narrative. There is no excuse for not confronting these Genocide deniers to engage them in a battle of truths. This they would lose hands down. And it can be done in various ways.
Thankfully our tormentors are human too
Fortunately, and you people need to remember this because it is crucial, the people who torment us are also human. I have often said it to you and to them. They are not God, but humans made of flesh and blood like you and me. I will listen to them whenever they unilaterally must read the riot act to us, and still go on to do what I must do in my country’s interest.
Secondly, if we commit wrongs as a country, is there anyone in the world who is innocent or angelic? There is no country, even the so-called superpowers, who is not handicapped in several ways. COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses of all of them, although even before it came nobody was perfect. Look at how for example they are challenged by racism. They kill black people at will by shooting them anyhow, on the streets in broad day light, and it has been like this for ages. I know the Genocide happened here. But do you not see a similarity here? Or when national forces randomly and openly on the streets shoot at people during elections because of political party differences. It shows how such challenges can be beyond individual nations’ capacities and become of an international nature.
When a superpower gets that challenged, people need to stop and ask questions related to the magnitude of the problem. I understand that there are security and criminal matters a country can and should resolve internally through own capacities and resources. Yet when it comes to Rwanda and Africa, little chance is given to us to resolve our problems. They desire to micromanage us, telling us what to say and do all the time, including trying to decide for us who should lead our governments. It looks like they delight in derailing our progress, since it has not been possible to stop us completely.
Not even a shirt or a pair of trousers is given to the sell outs
I see our people who they manipulate, their collaborators. They are all over the place on YouTube making noise on behalf of their masters out there. What shows you the futility of their sinister marriage of convenience, is that those who abuse and tell all sorts of lies about us on their behalf, not even a shirt or trouser is given to them. Nothing. It is total exploitation based only on verbal pampering as the sparrows endlessly sing.
And I say this mainly to our young people here, the many of you who are and will be here long after our generation has gone. Please listen and take heed now. You should not require any body to repeat this message to you in future. There is no better preparation for you to be able to take the mantle tomorrow than what I am telling you now. Let it be up to you to decide what you want to be and who you want to follow, for your own good and the good of this country. It will help you in mastering the management aspects of society. Listen and make a choice – whether you choose to behave like the grasshopper, it is all up to you.
Let us learn how to make the best out of the little that we have. It is possible to listen, learn, master, and apply these lessons in normal life. There is no shortage of examples that have worked for us to serve as clear reference. We need to fast get used to these good practices, including what we work on jointly with our foreign partners, in national interest. In everything we do, we must know how to survive in this unkind world, how to maximize dividends from our limited resources through innovation and by working in unconventional ways. We need to know who we are, identify our interests and define how to attain them. Lastly, we must look far ahead as opposed to seeing only what lies immediately before us.
Thank you very much!
Ignatius R. Kabagambe, is the Head of Corporate Communications at the University of Rwanda (UR).