Any one used to the conventions of political parties in other countries would have been disappointed at the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) convention of last Saturday 15th June 2010, at the Amahoro National Stadium.
Lacking were the usual, showy fanfare and sloganeering that mark other such events in Africa.
Yes, there was an array of RPF colours of white, blue, red and black. There was a band that sang RPF songs to vocal, clapping and dancing accompaniment by the enthusiastic party adherents.
There were even interruptions and disorder as the crowd did not seem ready to heed the programme announcer. But, considering that the 40-thousand-sitter stadium was bursting at the seams, one would have expected more pomp.
Even the chants of “RPF OYE!” and the fists that were punched in the air all seemed to respect the programme and, from nine in the morning, the convention was over by 12 noon.
The crowd only seemed to get out of control when their flag-bearer was unanimously acclaimed as President Kagame.
When the President walked around the stadium in what seemed to be a lap of honour, and a second time when he joined the celebrating crowd, he was mobbed, but in an atmosphere of camaraderie.
All registered opposition parties were represented at the convention and could not help joining in the celebration, so infectious was the mood.
It is no wonder that these opposition parties are accused of “answering to the whims of the ruling party” by foreign human-rights advocacy groups. The activists are used to opposition in Africa mudslinging whoever rivals it.
Yet, when RPF Chairman says the party pledges to work for the fulfilment of its agenda, those opposition leaders know that that agenda, as extensively spelt out in the tiniest detail in the party manifesto, is good for Rwanda.
They know also that the party is time tested and can be trusted to deliver, and they have therefore opted for ‘partnership in competition’. ‘Competition’ in the sense that they will vie for leadership of the country to drive a similar agenda, but will not vilify RPF for winning in their place.
To quote the manifesto broadly, RPF has pledged to continue putting leadership in the hands of the people. It has pledged to strengthen further the integration of the youth, women, vulnerable groups and the civil society into leadership.
It will fortify the means of disseminating information in and outside the country and will consolidate the country’s security and sovereignty, while exploring more extensive relations and dealings with other countries.
On the economy, RPF will keep on bolstering agriculture and animal husbandry; road and rail transport; telephone, Internet and other forms of communication, without forgetting the proper planning of towns and villages.
In strengthening the private sector, the party promises to pursue the promotion of cooperatives, investment, tourism, mining and to increase the number of factories in the country.
Meanwhile, proper management of the land and environment continues to feature highly on the list of its commitments.
Under RPF rule, the justice system in Rwanda will see the rule of law spread to all and corruption and sex offences receive they stiff punishment they merit.
Judicial courts and hierarchies will be improved and people will be mobilised to understand their rights and how to protect them. The fight against genocide ideology will continue and awareness and transparency will prevail.
In the area of social welfare, efforts will be put in the eradication of preventable diseases and in advancing the cause of the benefits of health insurance and empowering the needy.
Education will be accessible to all, and the enhancement of science and technology in secondary and higher learning institutions will continue.
RPF will see to befitting settlement in towns and in the countryside, without forgetting the importance of sports and games.
Since overall development necessarily hinges on the country’s culture, a language and culture academy will be started to train cultural promoters and to buttress the maintenance of more historical artefacts and sites.
Investment will be sought to establish cultural industries and refurbish existing ones. Rwandans will continue to be sensitised in the culture of punctuality, heroism and patriotism.
Admittedly, justice can hardly ever be done to the interpretation of the extensive text of the RPF manifesto. Even then, this laboured attempt should be enough to point to the stark bankruptcy of the objectives of the unregistered parties that are touted to be “democracy deliverers”.
The FDU-Inkingi leader abuses her party manifesto, parts of which are copy-pasted from the RPF manifesto, by using it as a veil to advance the cause of genocide perpetration in couched language.
In fact, the manifesto’s two translations, one in Kinyarwanda and the other in English, do not attempt to hide the incompatibility of their marriage!
And, in case our foreign democracy-advocacy groups have not yet caught on, another democratic people’s party has popped up in London.
And, in the true spirit of having ‘igihekane’ (a carry-on) to resemble RPF-Inkotanyi, it is called RPP-Imvura!
Presumably, in giving his party that ‘carry-on’, Imvura (which means ‘rain’), John Kalulanga wanted to assure the poor people of Rwanda that his ‘Rwanda Peoples Party’ will deliver to them their right to heavy rains all year round!
Unlike his counterpart of the Democratic Green Party who is happy to advocate for the environment only, Kalulanga puts forth a seven-point party manifesto.
He will bring “a regime policy”, a “justice policy”, a “reconciliation policy”, “an economic development model”, a “social policy”, a “cultural policy…..the creation…of culture” and a “policy of peace, friendship and cooperation”.
Well, advocacy groups, reason enough to unleash more of your volleys to the ruling party – and good hunting!