By Max Coutinho
The world stood still before the genocide that took place in Rwanda. Where was CNN, the BBC and others back then? Nowhere. Where was America, France, the United Kingdom and the European Union? They were watching the events unfolding in silence. Where was the UN and its humanitarian agencies? They were focused on the eternal Palestinian refugees. But now, all of these actors believe to have the right to meddle in Rwandan affairs and press the country into following western paradigms.
Liberal Democracy is not a recipe for Africa
The People of Rwanda participated in a referendum, late last year, to alter the constitution in order to allow Paul Kagame to run for a third term. 98% of the electorate cast their vote (a turn out envied by western politicians) and the majority voted to allow their President to continue developing their country.
When the time comes to transfer responsibility from one public servant to another, Rwandans already have confidence that it will be done in the orderly and harmonious manner which we expect and indeed require. - Paul Kagame
The Rwandan people were not the only ones to sanction a third term for their leadership: Congo Brazzaville did the same, and the Ugandans may end up doing the same soon. This is a very important development as Africa may prove that either liberal democracy is dying or that liberal democracy is a western value that isn't universal. Such evidence is an assault to the egos of stale scholars and even staler bureaucrats who induce politicians to do the wrong thing.
The inflexible proponents of liberal democracy are those who support corruption (mainly corrosive), as in liberal democracies certain groups, and their networks, control the system and feed themselves off of it - often in detriment of the people's welfare. Whereas in efficient illiberal democracies, and parliamentary monarchies, the system's net is tighter making it, thus, harder for corrosive corruption to proliferate and to scandalously jeopardise the people's welfare .
Rwanda is a success story: it is efficient, it delivers. Rwanda provides human development for its people. Rwanda puts its citizens first and it achieved something (without resorting to the usual feminist rhetoric) that Western countries can only dream of: 64% of its parliament is composed by women. This level of success is problematic to the West because not only it defies the notion that its model is the only option to develop a country, a society, but it also shows that it hasn't helped westerners to achieve many of their own goals, particularly when it comes to women in politics.
The Kagame Model
- Open market: low tariffs, flexible fiscal policy, freedom to invest, freedom to take capital in and out of the country, and a free competition policy – read Here how the open telecommunications market in Rwanda marked 2015 with innovation.
- Growth acceleration, poverty reduction and reduced inequality through rural development, productivity and youth employment.
- Emergence of a viable private sector to take over as the principle growth engine of the economy.
- Improvement of productivity and incomes of the poor through not only rural development but also through social protection policies.
- Focus on reaching the following goals by 2018: raise GDP per capita to $1,000, have less than 30% of the population below the poverty line, and have less than 9% of the population living in extreme poverty.
- A High Quality Education System (read Here)
- Government accountability through public-financial management and decentralization.
The paradigm is working for Rwanda; so much so that Tanzanians look at Paul Kagame as the example of a proper African Leader, and in 2015 they elected President John Magufuli who is being accused of carrying out the Rwandanisation of Tanzania just because he wants to make the State more efficient and less corrupt (in order to channel funds to the Human Development of his people).
The Kagame Model seems simple but it can only work via a paradox: it requires a lot of political selflessness on one hand (i.e. putting the people first in order to gain their trust), and a lot of political control on the other (i.e. controlling the environment with a strong hand). And of course, in order to be efficient, the People of other African nations must trust their leaders in order to grant them the mandate they need to clean house.
Rwandans want good politics that keeps delivering, they also expect a democracy in which public office is routinely transferred from one individual of their choice to another, yet real power and decision-making always remain firmly in the hands of the people themselves - idem
If people really want the development of Africa and its people, they must drop their ideological myopia and support the Kagame Model. So I ask again: what's more expedient; to have a stable illiberal democratic nation, or even a military dictatorship, where human development is high; or to have a liberal democracy where corruption is widespread and human development is immorally low?
[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]