Rwandan Politics: Decentralization policy, the path to Rwandans’ maturity
It is highly believed that the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was possible due to the presence of a sub culture of passive obedience, created by the past governments which left people open to political and sectarian manipulation.
This culture left citizens vulnerable and willing to do whatever they were told without debating and questioning if what they were told was the right thing to do. The consequences were so enormous on Rwanda and are still haunting this country, 18 years down the road.
The Genocide on top of killing over a million Tutsi, left about 85,000 child-headed households, some children were adopted by unrelated families. The experience of violence traumatised a big portion of the population. Shelter and capital stock were drastically reduced both in the household and small business sectors.
When the government of national unity came into power, they realized that there was an acute need for political development aimed at reconciliation in order to forge a new sense of national identity and social cohesion.
There was need for open debate with collective responsibility for development to replace the sub culture of passive obedience. That is how decentralization came into the picture.
Decentralisation is the process of transferring powers, authority, functions, responsibilities and the requisite resources from central government to local governments or administrative divisions.
The National Decentralization Policy is based on the Government’s commitment to empower its people to determine their own future.
The policy also has its foundations in the fundamental laws of the country as well as in the political and administrative reforms the government has already implemented.
Since its implementation in May 2000, a lot of achievements have been made through putting in place appropriate institutions for promoting democratic local governance.
It has also achieved a lot in building local administrative capacity of communities and elected leaders.
Decentralization has done great in transferring fiscal responsibilities and financial resources to decentralised units and mainstreaming gender in governance and poverty reduction activities.
Twelve years after the introduction of decentralization, Rwandans are now exhibiting a level of maturity. They take part in their own governance and are now enlightened and bold enough to ask why, and to debate on different issues affecting their communities at different platforms.
These platforms include the monthly community work (Umuganda) forums where everything comes to a standstill so that valuable works are performed and discussions are held. Forums are hosted like the recently concluded annual good governance month where citizens were given opportunity to articulate how they want to be governed.