The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Correspondent
ON July 4, Rwanda will commemorate its 27th Liberation Day (Kwibohora 27) to mark the day the Rwanda Patriotic Front liberated the country and stopped the genocide against the minority Tutsi community.
Rwanda descended into mayhem from April 7, 1994 when the genocidal government and its militias began slaughtering the Tutsi.
One million people were killed in 100 days of bloodletting, in massacres which were meticulously planned and executed by the hardline genocidal regime.
The killings were halted after the Rwanda Patriotic Front led by the now president, Paul Kagame, defeated the regime and drove them out of power.
From the devastation and hopelessness that followed the horrors of the genocide, Rwanda has defied all odds to become a model country touted as the Singapore of Africa.
So grand was the socio-economic transformation that Rwandan refugees, who fled the country to Zimbabwe during its dark days and returned under a United Nations High Commission for Refugees “go-and-see” visit, could not recognise their own country.
Outlining the Liberation Day, Rwanda’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James Musoni, said after driving out the extremist government, the Rwanda Patriotic Front set up a new governance system that promoted unity and reconciliation among the people of Rwanda.
It removed all forms of discriminatory norms and rules that were established by the previous regime. But the new government faced a myriad of serious challenges after the liberation of Rwanda.
Over one million of innocent Tutsis were killed and their bodies were scattered everywhere.
Up to 3,7 million people went into exile. Government coffers were emptied by the regime that executed the genocide. Rwanda was teeming with orphans, internally displaced people, injured and handicapped people with fresh wounds. All Government offices were dysfunctional including key social infrastructure such as schools and hospitals after teachers and doctors fled the country.
However, despite these overwhelming challenges, the victorious and dedicated RPF led by president Kagame transformed Rwanda into a model country revered across the African continent.
The RPF government successfully repatriated more than 3,4 million refugees that were camping close to Rwanda’s borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Burundi and Uganda.
“The refugees were all left to re-occupy their properties”, said Ambassador Musoni.
To ensure that victims of the genocide got justice, the RPF-led government, through home grown solutions, settled about two million cases related to the genocide in a short space of time.
In addition, the government introduced memorial sites around Rwanda to honour the remains of the innocent Tutsis that were scattered everywhere.
A fund to support genocide victims and survivors was established to cater for their basic needs such as health, education and housing.
In the year 2000, Kagame took over as president and immediately hit the ground running, introducing governance approaches that set the stage for Rwanda’s transformation.
“The policies quickly revamped different sectors of the country (political, economic and social development),” added Ambassador Musoni.
Rwandan leaders have espoused values of selflessness, self-reliance and self-determination, national identity, equity (including gender and youth), participation in the global community and good governance.
There is also a reinforcement of dignity in the conduct of Rwanda’s foreign relations. It has engaged constructively with other nations around the world through regional and multilateral organisations for the promotion of mutual and collective interests.
Rwanda strengthened its peace and security in order to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity and committed to the United Nations Charter principles.
The country is playing a prominent role in preventive diplomacy, peace keeping, peace-making, and peace building on the African continent and other parts of the world. Rwanda is one of the top contributors to UN peacekeeping forces.
The visionary leadership has also expended efforts towards the development of co-operation and partnerships, promotion of equitable world trade, and positioning Rwanda as a host country for regional, and international organisations and an airport hub for major international flights.
Rwanda was due to host the Commonwealth Summit but it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is due to host the inaugural Rwanda – Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference end of July.
Upon taking over a shattered country, the RPF-led government took an active role in revamping the economy from depression to attaining the current phenomenal status.
Rwanda is ranked second in the ease doing business rankings on the continent, with potential investors requiring only six hours to register a business.
Tourism and hospitality improved enormously from having no five-star hotel in 1994 to having about seven currently. Rwanda’s infrastructure development is transforming the country into a regional hub for the services industry.
The World Bank’s Global competitive report index ranks Rwanda 3rd in Africa with best and quality roads after South Africa and Namibia.
Access to electricity has increased from less than three percent in 1994 to over 62 percent in 2021.
Kigali currently is top of the electrified cities in Africa rankings, with all the key streets having public lights.
As President Kagame once said; “It is evident that such a struggle is not simple, the struggle to reclaim our dignity, the struggle for progress, for Rwandans to live in security, peace and tranquillity, to be in good health, to earn a good education to work and develop, such struggle is not and has never been easy.”