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Embrace accountability, Kagame tells leaders

President Paul Kagame yesterday urged local leaders to serve with diligence and a sense of urgency to improve people’s lives.

The Head of State was speaking yesterday at the opening of a three-day retreat that brought together more than 1300 local leaders from across the country.

“This retreat must leave us with new ways of thinking and working. We must not just meet and talk about changing our ways as leaders, and then go back to business as usual,” the President told the local leaders.

Running under the theme of “transformational governance that is citizen-centered”, the retreat seeks to engage local leaders on how they can assess their performance and work better to positively transform the lives of citizens.

President Kagame urged the leaders to always understand that Rwanda is a unique country whose leaders have a responsibility to think outside the box and act fast when while trying to solutions to the challenges the people face.

“What you can solve in one week shouldn’t take three months,” Kagame said, reminding the leaders that fast delivery services is a priority.

Among the problems that the Head of State brought to the attention of local leaders include poverty, child malnutrition, school dropouts, poor hygiene and corruption.

He urged the leaders to work closely with each other, communicate better and support each other as they have a common goal:   to improve the welfare of the Rwandan people.

President Kagame speaks during the opening session of the local leaders’ retreat. (Village Urugwiro)

The President emphasised how important it is that leaders hold each other accountable and the people they supervise. He cautioned them against self-importance as no one is above the institution  they lead.

“A leader must be brave enough to ask why things are not being done. Lacking the courage to hold people accountable is a sign of weakness,” Kagame said.

He added: “To stop bad leadership from spreading, we need leaders who have the courage to look at someone in the eye and call them out for doing something that’s wrong.

While the President pointed out that there are challenges that are “beyond our making, such as being landlocked, that should not be an excuse for not delivering within our means.”

He advised the leaders to make time to think of solutions, beyond the usual conventional means, to fix the challenges Rwandans face. He added that every leader has a role to play for the good of the people and the country.

Local Government and Social Affairs minister Francis Kaboneka addresses the gathering. 

The Minister for Local Government, Francis Kaboneka, said that local leaders are meeting at a time when citizens are yearning for better livelihoods and appreciate efforts such as decentralisation that has given them a say in matters that affect their lives.

Local leaders at the retreat welcomed the President’s advice on leadership and committed to working differently.

“During this retreat, we are going to take measures to change things,” said François Habitegeko, the Mayor of Nyaruguru District.

The Mayor of Muhanga District, Beatrice Uwamariya, said that President Kagame’s message was a wake-up call.

The retreat brought together leaders that include executive secretaries of sectors, district and Kigali City Council members, district executive secretaries, as well as provincial governors and executive secretaries.

Some of the local leaders take notes on Day I of the retreat in Kigali yesterday.

A cross-section of local leaders during a morale-boosting session at Petit Stade in Remera, Kigali yesterday.

The local government retreat will last three days.

Some of the leaders observe the national anthem

Provincial Governors Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi of Nothern Province (left) and Fred Mufulukye of Eastern Province at the event yesterday.

President Kagame urged local leaders to be humble and serve the people with a sense of urgency.

Up to 1300 local leaders drawn from across the country are attending the retreat.

Some of the officials who attended the event yesterday.

Military and police chiefs salute during the playing of the national anthem on the opening day of the local government retreat in Kigali yesterday.

The retreat is running under the theme, ‘Transformational Governance that is Citizen-Centered’. 

The event was attended by, among others, local leaders from the sector-level up to the provincial and City of Kigali levels.

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