• Economic Growth and Environment

Statement by Mr. Lamin Momodou Manneh, One UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative at the launching ceremony of the Rwanda Governance Scorecard (RGS) 2016

Nyakuhbahwa, The Right Honourable Prime Minister,

Honourable Minister for Local Government 

Honourable Ministers and Senior Government Officials Here Present,

The Chief Executive Officer, Rwanda Governance Board,

Honourable Members of Parliament

Yours Excellencies Ambassadors, Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Heads of Cooperation Agencies,

Representatives of the Civil Society, Private Sector and the Media,

Distinguished members of the Academia and Research Organizations,

Dear Colleagues from the One UN Rwanda Family’

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

All Protocols observed.

Allow me to start by saying to you all, Mirwe Neza Mwese, Good Afternoon, Bonjour.

Right Honourable Prime Minister, it is a great pleasure and honour for me to make this statement and comments on the 2016 Rwanda Governance Scorecard in your esteemed presence. Let me thank the Government of Rwanda and RGB in particular for this appreciable gesture, which I believe reflects the productive partnership with the One UN Team in Rwanda that has been growing from strength to strength.

Permetez moi aussi d’exprimer notre gratitude vers l’Honourable Premier Ministre d’être avec nous ici cet après midi malgré son agenda très chargé.

Right Honourable Prime Minister, Your Presence here is an attestation, if need be, of the high importance President Kagame, yourself and the Government of Rwanda accord to the issue of good governance.

I would also like to thank the Ambassadors, Development Partners, the Civil Society, the Private Sector, the Academic Community, the Media and all the other stakeholders for your presence here, which I believe is an expression of your appreciation of the importance you attach to good governance and sustainable development as well as to the need to track progress being recorded towards them.

As most of you are undoubtedly aware, the United Nations also places high priority on the nurturing of good governance because it is a critical precondition not only for sustainable development and durable stability of all societies, but also for intrinsic human fulfillment.

It is for this reason that we have consistently attached high priority to our cooperation with the Government of Rwanda, particularly through RGB, in the area of promotion of good governance, among others.  The Rwanda Governance Scorecard has over the past five years become one of the flagship outputs of this cooperation.

The significance of the Rwanda Governance Scorecard lies in the fact that whilst no reasonable person should question the critical importance of good governance to the sustainable progress, prosperity and stability of all societies, often many people forget that advances towards the ideal forms of governance necessarily takes time. They are also influenced in large measure by context specific variables. Thus, measuring progress by societies towards good governance in its different dimensions is key for gauzing success, for making course corrections where necessary and/or intensifying efforts at sustaining and building on gains made.

In all this paying close attention to context – specific characteristics is also of crucial importance for fashioning the most appropriate policy interventions. This is because, as I will note shortly, in the real world, the way democracy evolves and is practiced differs measurably from one societal context to another. This also tends to influence the way different people perceive democracy and good governance.

Right Honourable Prime Minister, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, before proceeding to my commentary on the Rwanda Governance Scorecard, allow me to lay the foundation here for relating to RGS these two fundamentals about governance and democratization process, i.e. the different conceptual interpretations and specific empirical dimensions.

In the literature, democracy is commonly defined as a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. Let me recall that the term democracy traces its origins in the Greek words: Demo, meaning “people” and Kratia meaning “power”. Thus, the notion of people power has remained central to the concept and practice of democracy and governance mechanisms

But beyond this basic definition of democracy, very different perceptions of it and how it is practiced in reality within different contexts have persisted. For instance, the famous Nigerian Social Scientist, Dele Olowu, noted that and I quote: “In the last two decades, governance has become an important issue in development policy discourse and social research. Yet a lack of conceptual consensus on the term results in a multiplicity of definitions”. End of quote.

Regarding its actual practice, events in 2016 brought to sharp focus how the actual practice of governance across different countries and regions do differ. Another respected analyst of democratization processes, Albrecht Schnabel, formerly of the widely acclaimed Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, was on spot when he noted a few years ago that “Democracies come in various shades, depending on the historic, political, ideological, cultural, economic or social contexts and experiences that shape the ways in which the rule of people and by the people is organized”. Compare USA, Italy, Switzerland, France, UK, Germany, China, Japan, India, Myanmar, Brazil, Chile, Arab States, Francophone vs Anglophone African countries  etc.

Nonetheless, it is important to stress the fundamental point that despite the different definitions and practices of democracy, certain key strands remain the same in genuine democratic contexts and these are: participation of the mass of people in electing their leaders and in governance processes through transparent and fair electoral processes; accountability of leaders to the people who bring them to power; ensuring civil liberties, freedom of expression and association; maintaining the rule of law; well - functioning and accountable public administration systems; responsive and efficient local administration regimes; ensuring national and personal security; effective institutions and mechanisms for controlling corruption; maintaining high levels of service delivery; creating conducive environments for economic and social development; and nurturing institutions for peaceful change of power.

At this point, I would like to submit that set against these fundamental elements of well-functioning democratic regimes, the RGS adequately covers all of them. By extension, it could also be asserted that contrary to popular, perception, the process of democratization is surely taking root in Rwanda. It is also in full conformity to the targets and indicators of SDG 16, in whose development Rwanda through RGB played an active and critical role.

Going beyond the key governance variables, we are also pleased to note that the Rwanda Governance Scorecard (RGS) has become a truly scientific method for assessing the progress being made in the key governance areas in Rwanda. Overall, it first of all provides clear evidence on the notable progress being made by the country in major areas of governance such as periodic elections of, and responsiveness of the leadership to the needs of the majority of people; separation of powers; citizen participation; reinforcement of local governance processes and mechanisms; safety and security; rule of law; transparency and accountability; and economic governance.

With regards to the methodology being used by RGS, we do appreciate that the RGS combines global governance research methods and international standards with an in-depth analysis of the Rwandan context. The RGS 2016 definitely uses both global and contextualized indicators based on home grown indicators thus relies on new local data, including perceptions of Rwandan citizens and expert surveys, as well as objective data from Rwandan institutions. This underscores RGB’s commitment to rigor, accuracy and transparency.  Hence the results of the study speak to the realities of Rwanda, but are also comparable at international level. We are pleased to note that the honest self-assessment in the RGS is a symbol of commitment by the Government of Rwanda, embodied by H.E. President Kagame, to change from within, sometimes in response to constructive external observations/disapprovals and suggestions, making the RGS a substance for continuous enhancement.

From our thorough review of the RGS 2016 edition and presentation made by Professor Shyaka, we could note that there has been appreciable progress in promoting good governance in Rwanda comparing to previous periods. In this regard, we noted that the following indicators have measurably improved since 2012:

  •   Political rights and civil liberties (from 73.6 to 81.83 in 2016),
  •  Rule of Law (73.3 in 2012- to 79.68 in 2016),
  • Control of corruption, transparency and accountability from 77.1 to 86.56

Significantly, some other areas, view their nature, continued to maintain their steady but consistent progress, notably:

  • Trust in the armed forces      
  • Safety and security: from 91, 3 to 92.6 in 2016;
  • Participation and inclusiveness: from 75.2 to 76.4

Regrettably, the pace of progress in service delivery has continued to be below the desired levels and not commensurate to the efforts being made to improve it. From the presentation, you could see that Quality of service delivery only slightly improved from 70.4 to 72.9 in 2016. In any context, this is a key indicator for gauzing Government’s performance, at both the central and local levels, and the results call for doubling of efforts towards attainment of the desired and feasible improvements in the country.

Another area of concern, if I may call it that, relates to “investing in people” as called initially and now appropriately expanded to “investing in human and social development”. Here, with the initial parameters the progress stood at 78.8% looking at human capital alone but upon the expansion of the parameters involved in this indicator, the score in 2016 is 74.8%. We do take note of the reforms in the area including the 12 years basic education, mutuelle de santé, some social protection programs such as Ubudehe and Girinka and the use of renewable energy including biogas. However the results of the 2016 Rwanda Governance scorecard call for doubling of efforts at building the human and social capital.

The justice sector has slipped a bit. But with the better functioning of the electronic platform, Abunzis and other reforms, we hope that this trend will be reversed.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Looking at the recommendations, we are pleased to note that the policy recommendations are specific, relevant and timely. They are fully linked to the EDPRS 2013-18 priorities. Implementation of the recommendations will definitely lead, to a greater extent, to the attainment of targets in EDPRS and strengthen the foundation for the Government’s accelerated transformational agenda, going into EDPRS 3 and Vision 2050.

Therefore, as we gather here today, I will urge everyone to use the opportunity of the launch of the Rwanda Governance Scorecard 2016 to review how we collectively and individually contributed to good governance in Rwanda and celebrate the progress so far achieved. By all means, Rwanda’s performance over the past years with respect to most of the vital indicators has been quite outstanding, and it continues to advance gradually but assuredly. There is broad consensus that this has been a major factor in the very positive socio-economic development results the country has realized in the post-Genocide period.

We are also acutely aware that many partners and observers continue to view with concern certain important governance areas notably press freedom, political space, CSO participation and the whole model of consensual democracy. For the UN Family, we see the first set of areas belonging to civil liberties as important works in progress. But ant objective assessment of progress being achieved in them should perceive appreciable improvements over the past four to five years. We also believe that consensual democracy has so far worked very well country, given its specific history and context, and may continue to be relevant for some time to come. But any opportunities for liberalizing some areas should be seized upon.

In conclusion, I will maintain that our overall assessment indicates that the democratic process in Rwanda is on the right track and the Government continues to make efforts to nurture it. If we assess deeply the secret behind the Rwandan success story, we see clearly the strategic role played the leadership, particularly His Excellency the President of the Republic of Rwanda, His Excellency Paul Kagame, who is, by himself, a role model for good governance as well as continued mobilization of the Rwandan population. Hence his leadership and the leadership of the Government of Rwanda has shown that it is possible, in the African context and even the global context, to have a Country governed by the rule of law, accountability, zero corruption, promotion of human rights following a citizen centered governance style.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

As the country strives to meet the targets of its development objectives outlined in the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) and the Vision 2020, it is our collective responsibility to support the Government and society at large in sustaining and deepening governance in support of the transformative processes in the country.

The UN is already responding to the recommendations of the RGS through some ongoing programs including through a joint programme on Access to Justice, Human Rights and Peace Consolidation which is implemented under the leadership of the Ministry of Justice. Further, the UN joint programme on Deepening Democracy and Accountable Governance as well as the program focusing on Strengthening civil society organizations for responsive and accountable governance in Rwanda and on Advancing and Sustaining Gender Equality in Rwanda covering the key indicators of the RGS and I wish to reiterate our commitment to pay a closer look to the recommendations and work with partners to agree on sustainable and efficient responses.

Finally, we commend RGB and the Government of Rwanda for the excellent work done and look forward to continuous dialogue to explore areas of deepened cooperation in the context of implementing the recommendations of this study. We do count on the media and the civil society to play an effective role in ensuring accountability in delivering against the set national targets and indicators as well as on the private sector for its strategic role not only in reinforcing service delivery but also in building a strong economic and corporate governance framework in Rwanda.

Murakoze Cyane.