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Inside Africa’s politics of patronage

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How Rwanda is defying the established mechanisms of organizing politics in Africa and why it is succeeding

Last week, we were at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) for a two-day conference on Rwanda. It always amazes me how this small (geographically), poor (economically) and geo-strategically unimportant country attracts attention far out of proportion to its position.

Critics and fans of President Paul Kagame battled each other over his legacy. Both sides agreed that the country has registered rapid state reconfiguration and economic reconstruction. For critics, however, the reasons that have made this possible were incidentally the reasons for their attacks. This article seeks to demonstrate this.

All governments (whether democratic or authoritarian or anywhere in between) need and seek support of various constituencies to consolidate and survive. Force and repression alone cannot sustain a government for long. Support is important for legitimacy and governments legitimise themselves through a variety of ways.

One strategy is ideology; by articulating such ideals as democracy, patriotism, development, poverty eradication, security, equality or human rights, governments can rally their people behind the cause. The other could be cooptation of influential traditional or modern elites through what is popularly known as patronage or “pork” (as Americans call it). Another source of legitimacy is the government’s delivery of public goods and services to ordinary citizens.

Governments don’t always choose “either or” of these strategies. Often they use a combination of all of them. The real question is the degree to which a particular government or ruling coalition – political party, military or revolutionary group etc. relies on any of these options as its “core” strategy.   In most of Sub-Saharan Africa, at the core of the regime consolidation project is patronage.

It involves co-opting influential elites representing powerful constituencies – often ethnic or religious – into the government through appointments to influential positions in the government as ministers or ambassadors. It also involves creating private sector opportunities for government tenders and contracts. These elites then deliver the block (or wholesale) support of their co-ethnics.

In Kenya, for example, President Uhuru Kenyatta (from the nation’s largest tribe, the Kikuyu) allied with William Ruto (from the country’s third largest ethnic group, the Kalenjin) and made him his vice presidential running mate. This created a formidable political force.

His opponent, Raila Odinga (from Kenya’s fourth largest ethnic group, the Luo) allied with Kalonzo Musyoka (from nation’s fifth largest tribe, the Kamba). This ethnic mathematics put the Raila-Musyoka ticket at considerable disadvantage. In the 2013 election, each of these powerful men got over 90 percent of the “ethnic vote.” This, of course, is a general outline. The real story is more nuanced.

Such alliances among these powerful men and women are characterised by a trade in private goods. For instance, the president (or ruling party) will offer a politically influential or financially lucrative ministry to a pillar of pubic opinion from a given ethnic or religious community.

The person so appointed will have access to official salary and allowances and unofficial opportunities to profit through corruption. Indeed, corruption becomes the way the system works, not the way it fails. In exchange, this powerful individual will deliver a significant block vote of his/her co-ethnics for the president and his party.

How does a man like Ruto sustain his pre-eminent position among the Kalenjin? He must be able to leverage his position to also provide private goods; jobs and lucrative government tenders and contracts to other members of his community.

This way he cultivates a large clientele of influential supporters. Meanwhile, each of these persons appointed also uses their influence to secure jobs and contracts for the political operators in their community. It cascades downwards in a reciprocal arrangement, eroding the principle of merit from the center to the lowest unit of local government.

Although the system may be technically dysfunctional (it creates distributional inefficiencies because of the personalised way it addresses problems), it is politically profitable. In the context of agrarian values (I wrote about this last week), it helps build and lubricate a network of political support.

At the lowest level, peasants seeking assistance to treat a sick relative or to educate a child will receive help from such rich patrons. Contrary to what many elites in Africa believe, a genuinely democratic system would tend to reinforce rather than erode these informal practices.

If the president can win a big share of the block vote of that community by merely coopting a few of its influential members into his cabinet, that is a much more cost-efficient strategy than delivering public goods and services to ordinary citizens.

It costs more money, intellectual exertion, time and discipline to deliver public goods and services. Thus democratic politics (multi party competition as currently organised, like the one party state or military junta before it) tends to reinforce the informalisation of power.

However, post genocide Rwanda has defied this logic. The RPF-led government seeks legitimacy largely through performance, not the distribution of favours among influential ethnic and religious elites. This is not to say that the Kagame and the RPF are immune to the politics of patronage.

Rather it is to say that patronage, although it exits, plays a very small part in the government’s strategy of legitimisation. The fount and matrix of the system is public sector performance through the delivery of public goods and services to ordinary citizens using impersonal institutions. The strategy is to win support of every individual citizen through public service delivery i.e. by retail.

This is especially intriguing because Rwanda has a large rural population and a very low level of per capita income, both of which would predict elite patronage as the fulcrum of politics. Indeed RPF initially tried this system in the mid to late 1990s and failed.

This set the country on a trajectory of entirely new politics that has set it apart from the rest of Africa. This factor, in the eyes of some, tends to reinforce the view that Kagame runs an authoritarian state, a criticism that is partly true. However, the “authoritarian” aspects of the government are necessary to liberate the state from capture by a few elites so that it can serve ordinary people.

When RPF captured power in Rwanda in 1994, it sought, like most governments in Africa, to rely on the cooptation of influential ethnic elites from the Hutu community for its legitimacy. In pursuit of this, it appointed a Hutu president, a Hutu prime minister, a Hutu minister of this and that. This way, the RPF sought to rely on these Hutu politicians to win over Hutu masses.

A problem soon emerged: although formal power was vested in these Hutu faces, effective power remained in the hands of the Tutsi elites who had fought the war. But these Hutu leaders did not want ceremonial titles. They wanted to exercise real power and the prerogatives and privileges that go with it. And they knew (or believed) that the Tutsi-led (at that time even Tutsi-dominated) RPF could not survive without them.

So the Hutu faces of the regime and Tutsi power-holders behind it lacked a shared vision of national reconstruction. The alternative to hostile stalemate in this ethnic coalition government would have been a retreat to the exchange of material favours i.e. corruption. By giving individual Hutu politicians a free reign at official loot, Kagame/RPF would have kept them busy at self-enrichment.

But they would also have accumulated sufficient evidence of theft. So if anyone of them tried to challenge the system, they could be legitimately prosecuted for corruption. The trick would have been to keep a tight grip on the military to counter-balance power. Indeed, many African leaders, past and present, have successfully used this approach.

It seems to me that Kagame personally was either unable to appreciate the necessity of such a bargain and/or was unwilling to accept it as a method of management. There is something in his make-up, his personality that is incapable of such deals; a puritanical streak that drives him to the adherence to certain principles/values. This streak also gives him an authoritarian reputation. Rather than trade corruption for loyalty, Kagame just allowed the tensions between his Tutsi-led RPF and the Hutu leaders to escalate leading to a divorce.

Throughout the 1990s senior Hutu politicians fell out with the government. Always, they resigned and ran into exile clearly knowing that in so doing they were stripping the regime of legitimacy and strengthening the civil war then raging in the north east of the country. Kagame’s first mission was to defeat rebellion militarily and thereby demonstrate that a violent power-grab was impossible. This he achieved. But he could not stop the tide of Hutu elites turning against him and his government in droves.

As more and more Hutu politicians fell out with the government, Kagame and his colleagues must have realised that this strategy was not sustainable. The legitimacy of the government depended on the goodwill of a few influential Hutu elites they could not control. RPF needed a strategy where the cards of legitimacy were in its hands. Rather than rely on unreliable Hutu elites, the RPF decided to work directly with Hutu masses to win their hearts and minds.

There was not a single moment when such a decision was taken. It evolved gradually and I think out of necessity. But if there is a date to attach to it, it is when Kagame came out of the closet and accepted to become president in place of Pasteur Bizimungu. That decision set an entirely different tone in Rwanda.   Initially the government derived legitimacy from ending the genocide, establishing security, curbing revenge killings (many Hutus had been told that an RPF power-grab would lead to their mass murder) and returning the refugees.

The presence of Hutu faces in top leadership positions also helped win over the hearts and minds of Hutu masses. But as the situation stabilised and senior Hutu politicians (Seth Sendashonga, Alex Rezinde, Pierre Rwigyema, Faustine Twagiramungu, Emmanuel Habyarimana, Bizimungu, to mention only but a few) were resigning in quick succession, the RPF began the delivery of public goods as the focal point of its search for legitimacy.

The strategy to seek performance-based legitimacy has had powerful implications on the organisation and exercise of political power in Rwanda. For such a strategy to work, the country had to build institutions on the basis of professional competence so that the state can deliver on its promises.

Henceforth, recruitment and promotion were to be based on merit. Yet many Hutu professionals had been ringleaders of the genocide and were therefore in jail or exile, many others had died defending Hutu power. The professionals available were the Tutsis diaspora returning from exile where they had worked for international organisations and foreign governments.

Insistence on merit could easily be seen as a disguised form of consolidating Tutsi power. Yet forging a semblance of ethnic accommodation by appointing every Hutu regardless of merit would create institutional incompetence and undermine state capabilities.

The RPF was no longer for appearances anymore (how it would be seen) but for substance (how its rule would be felt by ordinary people). As the government began to deliver, it pulled the rug from under the feet of ethnic populists. Save for standing on the platform of identity (Hutu power), critics of Kagame would find it difficult to fight him over public policy.

To deliver public goods and services effectively and efficiently, the RPF has had to make fighting corruption a corner stone of its governance strategy. Kagame has rigorously enforced an anti-corruption regime that has antagonised him with many sections of the Tutsi elite who have been its largest victims.

But such fights only win Kagame increasing admiration from many moderate and responsible Hutu leaders and Rwandan masses. And unlike in most of Africa where corruption charges are used to trim the wings of political rivals, Kagame has used it to ensure a government that delivers.

This brings me to the final lesson – democracy in Rwanda. According to American political theoretician Robert Dahl, democracy has two elements – participation and contestation. Participation refers to the ease with which citizens can organise and place their demands on the national political agenda.

The RPF has expanded participation through such local institutions as councils, national dialogue (umushikirano), farmers’ cooperatives and imihigo. Here, ordinary citizens can and do influence public policy.   Contestation refers to the easy with which opponents of the government can organise to challenge its hold on power. Most political contention in Rwanda is over this issue.

There is limited political contestation in Rwanda especially the kind of adversarial competition we see elsewhere. One reason is because the government has entrenched a system of power-sharing among political parties. No political party, however popular, can take more than 50 percent of cabinet seats. This makes political parties find it more profitable to accommodate rather than to attack each other during elections. Although it has taken heat out of the electoral process, it has stabilised the country.

The other reason is government has closed space for anyone who seeks to use ethnic identity as the basis for organising political support. Political parties and media that offer a platform to this kind of politics get muzzled. These actions have armed critics with ammunition to denounce Kagame as a despot. Yet every reasonable person would agree these measures are absolutely necessary in Rwanda’s specific context of ethnic polarisation causing genocide.

To reform the power-structure in Rwanda so that the state serves the ordinary citizens, Kagame/RPF found that resistance is better if it is organised through the democratic process. It is elites who organise and control political parties, own and write in newspapers and appear on television and radio and who form “civil society” organisations. They use these platforms to promote their interests. Ordinary citizens are often integrated into these “democratic structures” – not as rights bearing members – but as clients of powerful individuals.

This way, conventional democratic processes tend to empower a few elites at the expense of the masses. To liberate the state and the masses from the power of elites, Kagame/RPF found themselves in the shoes of former Venezuela President, Hugo Chavez – fighting institutions conventionally seen as democratic. As Rwanda’s success has shown, that is a worthwhile battle in the war against the politics of patronage.

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Comments (62)Add Comment
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written by Omeros, October 13, 2013
None of the ideas in this piece are new or especially original. But they certainly bear repeating. It is easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of individual political incident and to lose sight of the broader political processes of which the incidents and "micro-incidents" are manifestations. I therefore appreciate the use of a wider lens in this piece. Thank you Andrew.
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written by Staff Gen. Adam Kifalisso, October 13, 2013
Andrew has nothing to do with democracy apart from personal grandarisation of the people in power for reasons known to Andrew himself . It is now clear if you have power and money Andrew will make you a great leader and a fighter of conventional wisdom and its pillar upon which democracy is built . I think Andrew is not far from a personal history , he has definitely profited from corrupt ,nepotism and theft of public funds or money , he is now trying to make a point out this abnormality , shouting out politics is about bribing and buying influence and not consent through common goals and ambitions
Where are the wider lenses?
written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
While conventional post-conflict activities have tended to emphasize, inter alia, restoration of order, demobilization of soldiers, and legal reform in order to respect rule of law and human rights, less attention has been paid to resource management issues that sometimes are root causes to these conflicts. It is only very recently that the trajectory between resource management and peacebuilding came to be recognized as an issue of crucial importance both within academic and practitioners’ circles (UNEP 2009). There is now an increasing attention paid to the complex relations between environment and resource management on the one hand and restoring peace and durable resolution of conflicts on the other hand (Matthew et al. 2002; Hagmann 2005; Gleditsch 2007).
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
It is often said in Africa that “when one has land, one has life”. How much life has an ordinary Rwandan got? Land is, therefore, an excellent example for studying intricate relationships between resource management and peacebuilding. For the same reason, land is also an important resource for the poor in attempting to manage their livelihoods. Land registration, an important component of the new land tenure reform, was tested in four places in Rwanda during 2006 and 2007. On the one hand, this pilot phase confirms that some, who had been traditionally excluded in accessing land, are now officially entitled to land inheritance. This benefited specifically the women.
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
On the other hand, efficacy of land registration depends on local dispute settlement, which is usually considered cost-effective but not without criticisms. Unless dispute settlement receives due political legitimacy, mechanical up-scaling of land registration (using modern techniques) may not alleviate deep-rooted issues of land. Thus, as becoming increasingly recognized (de Greiff and Duthie 2009), endeavors on two often distinct areas of transitional justice and peacebuilding on the one hand and resource management in post-conflict development on the other need to be much more harmonized. Various recent research has shown that land and genocide were intricately related with each other.
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
Some participated to gain land, which were left behind by the Tutsi victims. The land rich tended to be more actively collaborated with organized killings. The landless poor, who were fearful of possible reprisal of non-collaboration with the genocide, partook in mass killings (Straus 2006; Takeuchi 2009). These findings, therefore, demonstrate that the powerful elite who refused to relinquish political and economic benefits of holding the regime used the genocide for the sake of staying on power. Furthermore, with hindsight, it is surprising that Rwanda before the genocide was considered as “a model developing country, doing well on the variables we [international aid workers] cared about” (Uvin 2004: 2 ).
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
Even if certain political analysts were uneasy about the tense situations even before the 1994 genocide, as Uvin himself admits, aid workers did not imagine that the situation would change such dramatically (Uvin 1998; 2004). While Africa in general, is abundant in land supply and population density tends to be low, Rwanda in early 1994 was one of the most (if not the most) densely populated African country. This signifies that land is a very scarce and important resource for the majority of Rwandan (rural) population. Without sufficient land, there was a significant proportion of the population that was unable to satisfy food security in the 1990s.
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
Wyss stated that “Rwanda was transformed from one of the sub-Saharan three top performers at the beginning of the 1980s to one of the worst by the end of the decade” (Wyss, 2006: 10). This is the background against which the genocide took place in 1994. Even before the terrible tragedy started to unfold, Wyss continues that “The government, unable to address the land issue, attempted to use land to maintain control of the state and thereby dominate the institutions and other decision-making structures to allocate scarce land and resources” It is no wonder that many researchers, albeit with hindsight, assert that land indeed constitutes a key background factor to the genocide.
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
Recent research increasingly points out that there was a compound relationship between the 1994 mass murder and land. Several researchers have found that once violence started to escalate, “land greed instantly fuelled the killings.... The promise to get more land was a powerful incentive offered by local administrators to those hesitating to get engaged in the killings” (Wyss, 2006: 13; see also Verwimp 2005: 319). Some who have been involved in land disputes became the target of killings. For some perpetrators, genocide provided a good opportunity “to use the cover of confusion in order to ‘settle old scores ” (Musahara and Huggins 2005: 275). In such cases, victims included not only Tutsi but Hutu land owners as well.
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
Furthermore, Human Rights Watch discovered that certain militant leaders distributed fake maps showing which Hutu owned land would need be confiscated (Pottier 2006: 510). Various scholars demonstrate that those who participated in mass killings come from the background of quasi or total landless. Their fear of further socio-economic marginalization was very significant (Mamdani 2001: 191; Verwimp 2005: 320; Pottier 20 06: 510; Straus 2006) When the genocide ended, Rwanda established a new government left with not only the survivors but also with various structural continuities from the pregenocide era as well. Thus, the new RPF government was relatively quick in addressing land issues.
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
Peace negotiations included land issues from the very beginning (Bruce 2007: 5). Land issues in post-genocide Rwanda included several important dimensions. One of the most significant was the magnitude of refugees returning from neighboring countries after the genocide. There are two main types of returnees- 1. The first is called “old caseload,” or “fifty-niners” and they are those who fled Rwanda in 1959 because of the Social Revolution. More than 1 million people, mainly Tutsi, started to return in late 1994 from neighboring Uganda, Burundi, Zaire, and Tanzania. Bruce (2007: 9) points out that “the majority of the returnees did not resort to violence and did not seek to occupy their old homes.”
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
The second type is “new caseload.” They fled the country in the immediate aftermath of the genocide, and more than 1.7 million people, mainly Hutu, returned during the peak of 1996. Most of the Hutu, who fled to Zaire from central and northern Rwanda, returned fairly satisfactorily, because few Tutsi returnees resettled in that part of the country. But in other areas, when Hutu returned, they found that their lands were already occupied by recent Tutsi returnees. But because of the fears of retribution, few were brave enough to push their claims. This relative acquiescence was partly due to an experiment of “land sharing.”
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
While it is not entirely clear of the whole situation of this experiment, those who lost land due to this sharing did not receive adequate compensation. The sharing thus may become a cause of complaints (Bruce 2007: 11-12). This massive inflow of returning refugees and other factors (such as increased female headed households due to the genocide) encouraged the new RPF government to plan a new policy on land. It took eight years from the initial assessments into the land issues to the promulgation of the Land Law in 2005 (Pottier 2006: 510). This shows, on the one hand, a kind of sensitivity by the government to the land issues.
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
On the other hand, the way in which the new Law was prepared suggests the process was largely led by the government. Although the civil society was involved in the process, they did not appear to lead this critical land agenda. “NGOs have by and large followed, if not reproduced, the behavior and ideology of the dominant section of society under the RPF rule in the same way as they did before under the MRND authoritarianism” (Wyss 2006: 19; see also van Leeuwen 200smilies/cool.gif. National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) would be a good example to highlight this tendency.
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
NURC was created in 1999, with a mission to develop “measures that can eradicate divisions among Rwandans and to reinforce national unity and reconciliation” (NURC website). NURC organized various meetings and workshops on the subject of unity and reconciliation. The NURC conducted nationwide consultations in 2001, and concluded that land disputes are “the greatest factor hindering the sustainable peace” (Musahara and Huggins 2005: 275; Wyss 2006: 6).Then it released a report about land in 2005, which stated that “Since 1959, the fear of not having arable land has fuelled ‘ethnic hostility’ which culminated in the 1994 genocide” (Rwanda NURC 2005: 7).
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
While this frank statement is appreciated, several observers agree that the post-genocide reconciliation shows the prominence of the government role, due both to the lack of independence of civil society and to the elaborated state apparatus being able to penetrate deep into society (Zorbas 2004: 38; Nantulya et al. 2005). The overall aim of the new Law could be safely said as commercialization and privatization This direction is in line with the mainstream land reform increasingly being implemented by the World Bank and others.
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
In order for implementing this new Law, National Land Centre (NLC) was established in 2007, and various international donors, including the World Bank and the Department for International Development (DfID) of the UK government, have been assisting the operation of the NLC. However, there are several important problems associated with the Law. First, there has been an increasing gap between the land rich and the land poor. On the one hand, Musahara and Huggins (2005: 314) estimated that 73 - 77% of the households own less than 1 hectare. One of the official statistics in Rwanda also reported recently that more than 60% of households cultivate less than 0.7 hectare of land (Rwanda, NISR 2007a: iii).
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
Under these circumstances, the proposition of 1 hectare as a minimum land size presents fear for the majority of Rwandans. Accordingly, massive landless and food insecurity would unlikely to result in increased land productivity contrary to the official proclaimation. Thus costs and benefits of land consolidation need to be carefully compared during the implementation of the land policy (Musahara 2006: 11). As for these important concerns, it appears that policy makers never showed convincing evidence that land consolidation would boost productivity, as justified in the Law (Pottier 2006: 523) At the other end of the spectrum, there appears that land is being increasingly in the hands of the few elites.
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
Even if there are some difficulties to identify the trends of land distribution statistically, the overall picture seems to indicate that the distribution is becoming more and more unequal. The following two tables illustrate this negative change. In 1984, about 57% of the total households owned lands of less than 1 hectare. In 2000, this ratio has increased to be about 78%. By around the middle of the 1980s, before the genocide, approximately 182,000 farms, about 1.6% of the total farmers owned about half of the total agricultural land (Musahara 2006: 7).
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written by Rajab Kakyama, October 13, 2013
This trends seems to be continuing at least, if not accelerating. More recent government study reports that “There has been a slight increase in the share of the population who own four or more plots of land since 2005” (Rwanda NURC 2008: 3). Furthermore, a 30 or 50 hectare ownership ceiling that appeared during the draft stages of the Law disappeared in the final Law. Several analysts speculate that this change reflected the desires of the influential in the regime. Large coffee and tea estates as well as cattle grazing areas have recently been established by those were well connected to the regime (Musahara and Huggins 2005: 324; Pottier 2006: 528; Wyss 2006: 30). I see no lenses at all, Omeros.
Rwanda’s policy success offers hope and good lesson for Africa
written by Denis Musinguzi, October 13, 2013
I agree with Andrew that by defying the dominant Africa’s politics of patronage to focus on the winning policy strategy of delivery of public goods and services, Kagame’s post-genocide Rwanda crafted its admirable and enviable niche of unprecedented policy success in contemporary Africa. This is not surprising since every government policy derives its legitimacy in serving its primary purpose of addressing public problems or public needs.
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written by Denis Musinguzi, October 13, 2013
President Kagame and his astute administrative architecture analyzed well and understood their history in general and the post-genocide environment in particular. In response, they craftily avoided the temptation of Africa’s political sin and instead responded with the winning policy strategy of leveraging public needs and interests, the primary purpose of public policy. This objective functioning of public policy has unfortunately continued to elude much of post-independence Africa’s leadership.
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written by Denis Musinguzi, October 13, 2013
Kagame’s regime might be faulted on limiting freedom space (again not without credible reason), but will be lauded on leveraging public interest as the determining motivation of state functioning. While his policy shift could be explicable from the historical and existential threat that his minority Tutsi-led regime faced with growing majority Hutu discontent, and the potential tragic threat posed by the Rwanda’s fragile ethnic demographic imbalance, his ability to use political infrastructure to achieve overarching policy success deserves applaud.
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written by Denis Musinguzi, October 13, 2013
Unlike the majority of his fellow African heads of state who have failed to transit to responsive policy success, Kagame’s record at using the otherwise ‘’corrupt’’ politics to achieve effective and efficient policy milestones offers good lessons for the rest of Africa that has lame-struggled to achieve political inroads with regard to rational and impersonal delivery of public goods and services.
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written by Denis Musinguzi, October 13, 2013
Rwanda’s policy success therefore requires supportive political culture and efficient administrative infrastructure to make it sustainable. Fortunately, there is enough indication on the ground that a public-oriented state in Rwanda is taking shape. Hence, in spite of all other regime failures, this milestone deserves firm acknowledgment and unwavering support. Importantly, it brings some hope and offers good lessons for the rest of Africa.
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written by derek, October 13, 2013
Wonder if museveni had combined his approach to personal freedom with kagame's approach to service delivery and management we would be now speaking of vision 2025 instead of vision 2040.

Or better still could we have witnessed in our lifetimes the rise of an african super power ie D.R. Congo with all its natural resources if only Kagame was congolese.
It's a Bribery of the Masses not sound Public Policy
written by Maceni, October 13, 2013
The process of institution building and delivery of public goods in Rwanda is largely a top down affair. Its government by design not human (the masses) action – it will probably not last after Kagame. It is also heavily paternalistic and prescriptive in most of its functionality. The most stable & sustainable institutions, and public policy processes are those where the masses drive construction- a bottom – up process. The choice the RPF made here was to ‘bribe’ an entire population with public goods (that the masses had little say in shaping) to maintain their hold on the state. The interaction between the Rwanda government and its people is in the most part a Patron-client one. It’s quite clear the Rwanda government treats its people as clients/Subjects of the state – not citizens.
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written by derek, October 14, 2013
@Maceni. All modern states are paternalistic as they are too large to have direct citizen participation in their governance and development.

You arguments make a false assumption that only kagame is interested in maintaining the current status quo. It's not far fetched that these so called bribed masses are liking and enjoying what he is doing ...
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written by derek, October 14, 2013
...and in the long run if this style of governance and service delivery is continued it will set a new bare minimum standards of what rwandese will expect of a state to do and any leadership falling short of this will have to resort to the army to maintain its self in power.

Just look at singapore its founding prime minister set the standard of economic transformation. With little focus on so called democratic governance and it is far fetched to claim its unstable and unsustainable .
None
written by Daniel, October 14, 2013
Andrew - who exactly are the Tutsi elites? it bothers me so much when all media use this non-descriptive term.
Who does it refer to? and why does your article refer to Tutsi-elite and Hutu-leaders. are there no hutu-elite? or tutsi-leaders?
I love your articles (sometimes), but please refrain from loosely using this term, i think its meant to create a mental sub-division. Well u get the point.
mr.
written by ukuri, October 14, 2013
Andrew, the so called Hutu masses whom you claim support Kagame because he provides them with services.. are waiting like hawks to pounce on him the day a viable Hutu challenger emmerges and an environment for change arises. Hutus in Rwanda live in fear and blind obedience to the regime. They have never forgotten nor forgiven their hundreds of thousands who were murdered and remain unrecognized. It is ridiculous that you dare to assume Kenya is more divided along ethnic lines than Rwanda... Compare 1million deaths to 1 thousand at the peak of each nations ethnic clashes. Rwanda, like many other African countries, has not and may never fully recover from ethnic divisions. We are just seeing an temporary era of forced peace.
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written by ukuri, October 14, 2013
Ofcourse no one can take your opinions on Rwanda seriously because we all know that you are a good student of history and we expect you to know better. Not even Kagames money can blind you. Rwandas progress is a sham that will expose itself in the next three years. As soon as Kagame gets his third term, the true colors will start to emmerge. And once it dawns on the world that he is going for life presidency, then we shall see what lies you will be publishing. Rwandans already know he is here to stay. Hutus and tutsis support him only bcz u cannot exist in rwanda if u dont. The day he goes, they will all celebrate!
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written by ukuri, October 14, 2013
More interestingly Andrew, provision of services maybe better leadership, but giving of gifts and patronage is better politics. Kagame may excel at being an executive but Museveni is definitely a better politician. Due to the political fragility of our African nations, when people go to vote in Africa for instance, they dont think about... What services will NRM govt offer vs FDC... no.. they think of... what has M7 done for me vs. Besigye? Even when the time comes for M7 to leave, people will remember his "generosity" as a politician. It will be his legacy.. as the many who remember Amin today. Kagame's institutions will crumble bcz they are built on a "fake peace" and "forced unity".. just like Obote's. I guarantee Rwandas mutuelle de sante... wont see two generations.
@ukuri
written by Denis Musinguzi, October 15, 2013
Ukuri (Mr or Mrs), they say a journey of 1000 miles begins with one step. Post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding is by no means an easy journey. Even in much more stable communities like South Africa, the benefits of transitional justice in the wake of post-apertheid peace and reconciliation commission remain largely elusive todate. Kagame is merely taking the first steps in such a lengthy journey whose completion will require several of his successors. As you note, Rwanda is still a volatile community. We need to appreciate the good being done, as we demand for more. Rubishing everything as you seem to do makes things worse, not better!
Accountant
written by Sekadde, October 15, 2013
Thats a very guinue take on what has really happened in Rwanda and Uganda.
A journey of 1000miles
written by Rajab Kakyama, October 15, 2013
Sometimes there is no journey at all. The first step has got to be right. Sometime we (critics) of President Kagame and his RPF sound "Very unrealistic" and at times "unfair." But when he (Kagame) and his henchmen decided to invade Rwanda and captured power, they must have fore borne what lay ahead. Killing into presidency was his best option even when there were other avenues like the Arusha Peace talks. After 17years in the reigns of the country, I do not think that it would be farfetched to apportion part of the blame to his handling of business. Realistically, most of Rwanda's problems are beyond Kagame, however, he has allowed himself to "run the show" The sooner he and his choir members realise this mistake, the better for all humanity.
Rwandese know the journey
written by Denis Musinguzi, October 15, 2013
Kagame and his "henchmen" did not forcefully "invade" Rwanda (as if they were foreigners!), rather they forced their way backhome having been flushed out (of home) in 1959 as infants, some of them not yet even born then. The journey there's; and it must transit from the journey of bloodbirth to that of harmonious coexistance between the Hutu and Tutsi (who had by the way peacefully coexisted before their relations had been strained by divide-and-rule colonial politics). Andrew has previously listed credible structural and institutional reforms that define Kagame's right first step, albeit being appreciated differently. Realistic analysis of kagame's performance shouldn't either be oblivious of the predicament he faces and the tough choices he must make!
Rwanda and Kenya areTotally Different
written by Ocheto, October 15, 2013
What is flawed with this analysis is that it compares Rwanda and Kenya to justify Rwanda's success at opting to deliver services to the masses rather than work through a cumbersome and wildly system built on patronizing disparate power centers. Unlike in Kenya with a slew of solid tribal power centers there are no such entities in the case of Rwanda. The Hutus are not power centers; they are one ethnic group making it much easier proposition to control. The reason Congo has remained untamed is it has a multiplicity of tribal alliances. It would make more sense if the comparison were between Rwanda with a country with a similar social milieu of a less ethnic diversity.
@ Ocheto
written by derek, October 16, 2013
'Social milieu of less ethnic diversity' Men who want power in any country will always try to create a power base out of any difference they can sense even if everyone is same ethnicity,religion eg somalia,sweden since men and a few women who want power exit in both states its a fair comparison.
...
written by derek, October 16, 2013
......Having More or less ethnic/religious groups existing in a state doesnot remove the complexity of governance as evidenced by somalia and DR congo which are both a mess at the moment... Even kagame in RPF itself faces various competing interests but stil manages to delive
...
written by Gatabazi JMV, October 16, 2013
The success Rwanda registered up to now is based on the ideology and the spirit of fighting for the truth and work for the interest of every Rwandan which leads to a united nation, remember that for a stable state three elements are compulsory and Rwanda is confident that these element are achieved 1) We have a pro people ideology 2) Strong and well structured administration from National level to Village 3) we have a very strong, disciplined and professional army and finally the people of Rwanda are experienced from the Past which remind every one to look a head and fight for the better
kenneth (kennedy) malidadi
written by kibuuka mukasa, October 16, 2013
Nobody ever sounded the very same 42 years down just any lane. Since, mercifully, you still live Malidadi, kindly contact Kibuuka ex Tororo College Nyangole (Lwanga House) where you taught me to say pepsodda instead of pepsodent. I truly appreciate your contributions to a healthier world thru your great blogs. KM tel: 256 750 00 11 22.
ukuri
written by marvin ya kuku, October 16, 2013
I agree with Ukuri. It is clear Rwanda will lose all its gains as the president begins to show his lifelong presidency designs. 20-30 years from now African leaders will struggle even if they render services their citizens are entitled and continue their shenanigans. Dangling health care while having an army in Congo/a critical comrade shot in joberg will not work.
@derek
written by Maceni, October 16, 2013
You obviously missed my point.When I make reference to a bottom-up process and citizenship participation-
I have no idea why you think this only implies direct participation-It can also be representative !
The point I was making was that the vast majority of Rwandans are takers rather than co-creators of policy and institutional building. Secondly a vice, a bad idea,a poor policy , a bribe can be enjoyed and liked even when its fundamentally bad for the recipient.
Anticipated not actual .
written by Maceni, October 16, 2013
There is too much credit given to the anticipated effects of Kagame's policies and institutions in Rwanda
rather than their actual effect.At many social and political levels there is a repressive effect- its a
dangerous under-current that is always eerily present-Even as stranger one is always aware of it in Rwanda.
There has to be a certain social participation and social functionalism embedded in the policy & institutional building process, in-order to have an effective response to deep societal problems in Rwanda.
Live forever oh Independent and AM thank you so much
written by Kennedy Maridadi, October 17, 2013
Kibuka, The Almighty be praised that you have contacted me through this column. I vividly remember you in St Peters Tororo when we were teenagers. It is as though as though it were yesterday. What with the Kibirige,Semakula, Mafiti (Kamugisha) I miss Robert Kisembo (have miserably failed to locate him.
Kibuka I will send my email by sms so that Winnie and Staff Gen Adam Kifaliso do not flood it with insults. We are on cat-mouse relationships. I will also send you a picture of my present old look. It is 42 years ago remember.
Your memory must still be very good
written by Kennedy Maridadi, October 17, 2013
Do you still read JAMES HADLEY CHASE? Do you I have not sen another library in stature,size,content and smartness like the one we had in St Peters?. How did you remember the name? Wonders will never cease? Truly the world is round like a ball. 42 years down the line and billions of calamities each of which should have killed a man. I will call shortly.
Kakyama and "Ukuri"
written by Kennedy Maridadi, October 17, 2013
Wishful thinking that translates into predictions and speculations under the guise of informed hindsight is your hobby I realise. I am still analysing whether you are one and the same who uses aliases but that is beside the point I want make.
1. People who have never been to a frontline 'know' more about gunfights than those who have been in uncountable engagements just like spectators know how to score better than the best footballers. You may or may not get the point.
Kakyama and 'Ukuri'
written by Kennedy Maridadi, October 17, 2013
2. Public Administration(Human Management) is what Kagame does or tries to do in the present Rwanda which is recuperating from the wounds that are not yet fully healed...not politicking. When the wounds are healed fully and Rwandans are on the track to prosperity, then politicking may come in but presently it is not welcome yet. Kakyama, would you recommend that your 12 year old start being initiated in the arts of the bedroom? What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Kakyama or perhaps Ukuri
written by Kennedy Maridadi, October 17, 2013
3. Kagame does (over and above) other activities of heads of state the following (simultaneously and not in sequence):
(i) Stopping genocide survivors(in '000) from avenging their beloved ones...No other president has this task
(ii) Till recently overseing gacaca justice system.....this too was extra-curricular and time and resources were used at the expense of other more positive issues.
(iii) Looking after the war-maimed (of both armies) his RPA and the ex-foe' FAR...I know you will doubt this


Kakyama or Ukuri
written by Kennedy Maridadi, October 17, 2013
(iv) Looking after genocide widows and orphans.....Which other president has such a task Kakyama????
(v) Resettling the 1959 returnees who were dispossessed as they look on their inheritance possessed by their evictors.... Would you know how to handle such a murky situation my know-all Kakyama???
(vi) Rigorous defence of territory and people from genocidal FDLR (and patrons) whose aim and purpose in existence is to kill and finish the remaining tutsi...... Which nation is faced with such a determined,(supported by a superpower) foe????
What a work load!!!!!!!!
written by Kennedy Maridadi, October 17, 2013
(vii) Overseeing safety of the remnants of the genocide survivors because genocide perpetrators want to eliminate all trace of their atrocities....You know there are many genocide suspects hiding out there but who know survivors were eye witness to their atrocities. They do their level best to see them dead so none is left to tell.
(viii) Fallen comrades-in-arms' widows and orphans looking him in the face.. needy as they are
(ix) Ever on the defensive; explaining to the world why DRC is a failed state....just there are indigenous tutsi in DRC.
Kakyama do your friends truly envy his job??? Isn't it a miracle the man is still sober?? WHICH other Head of STATE in THIS REGION HAS SUCH EXTRA-CURRICULAR activity??
Kennedy maridadi
written by Kassim, October 17, 2013
It is very naive and imature if you think anyone head of state has bigger job than any other another. But assuming we concede that...what is your point? Is having a lot to do an excuse not to do everything well or shd kagame be judged with different yardsticks? Are we supposed to believe Kagame is the most hardworking and busy man in the region or the world? You sound like you belong to the Mwenda cult of Kagame worshippers. Atleast mwenda eats on the offerings, what do you get? Every president or leader of even a household has significant and unique challenges that they must face we evaluate the success not compare the size of issues because even the opportunities are different.
Civilised conduct Kassim
written by Kennedy Maridadi, October 17, 2013
I asked a civil question for which the only obvious answer was NONE. If you are objective and you like truth, you will concede that the extra-curricular tasks are unique to Kagame and his team. While I do not lobby that you and your similars appreciate him or how he tackles his assigned enormous tasks, at least let him be. As for what Mwenda eats, do you think he can at a go consume more than a plateful. We who are traditionally pastoralists know that whoever owns more than 20 milk cows is just a steward/caretaker of the consumers, not owner. Finally, know ye that different heads of state have different workloads. Do you Paul Biya?
@Maceni
written by derek, October 17, 2013
In most states citizens rarely if ever at all co-create policy even in UK, US. The leaders usually initiate policy then wait and see citizens response to the policy and react accordingly. Sometimes leaders have to just drag their countrymen along for the longterm benefits of such policies if even currently the people are strongly opposed. But for rwanda luckily most of the population seems to agree with kagame as evidenced by large electrol victory virgin in certified free and fair elections.
@Maceni
written by derek, October 17, 2013
...As for the phantom results u claim of kagame' achievements. WorldBank, EU and a host of other reputable bodies acknowledge the extraordinary transformation kagame has brought to rwanda which u are choosing to ignore
Apologies for spelling errors
written by derek, October 17, 2013
Electoral not electrol and margin instead of virgin
Well put Derek
written by Kennedy Maridadi, October 18, 2013
Remind Maceni too that "truth" is what is perceived as such by many. So if election observers from all corners of the globe say the elections were free and fair and thereafter counting Kagame emerges the winner; and there is no complainant, but Macen sees different, it is Macen who has a problem of perception. I wonder whether Macen is a voter or whether he is conversant with tallying and counting of votes. Does he for example know that all contestants have representatives in every voting room?
@Rajab
written by Musinguzi, October 18, 2013
From his writings, Rajab seems to me to have a deep-seated problem with Kagame as a person. He would rather hear nothing about the best performing president on the continent. I mean, this is a star that shines on the continent; you can choose to hide your head in the sand but you will find its light when you finally bring your head up! Like Obama said yesterday, occassional disagreements should not blind us to facts and should not lead to dysfunction and hatred! Rajab is taking Besigye-like positions on M7, this time on Kagame; this extremism is not helpful at all and is not constructive either. let us give credit where it is due and point out areas of improvement as we see them. This way, we help humanity improve. Tital condemnation is not acceptable!
Really?
written by Rajab Kakyama, October 18, 2013
I wish I had personal vendetta against President Kagame. But we are in two different leagues. I am just a spoke in the wheel. My concerns are entirely humanitarian. In my long submission of more than 1900 words, how many times have I mentioned the name Kagame? It would be paranoia for one to think that I hold to person my views about Rwanda. For the lazy researchers, Rwanda was one of the 3 fastest growing economies on the Continent in the 80s. However, by the end of the decade it had taken a backward step into political anarchy. So, let today's economic development in Rwanda not be a manifestation of a "weathered storm." Rwanda's political trajectory indicates that all the writing is on the wall, however, it takes a keen eye and an objective mind to read it right.
one fastest growing economies in the 80s??????
written by Kennedy Maridadi, October 24, 2013
Kakyama is for sure a clown or he reads comics. Does this man know Rwanda and how it was in the 80s? And does he know how it is now? Like the Ethiopian foreign once said (alluding to Morsi threats that they cease the construction of the dam on Blue Nile) "You cannot stop a person from dreaming" What calamity do you and your colleagues now have in surprise for Rwanda. Rwanda has faced and survived genocide. What other threat are you alluding to Kakyama? If wishes were horses Kakyama......... Problem of people who read all written matter without discerning or reading between the lines.
Writers will mislead you
written by Kennedy Maridadi, October 24, 2013
Go to the ground Kakyama and investigate for yourself.Rwanda is not far and neither are the scars. Do you remember Amin eating his son Moses in 1977 and then appearing with the same Moses in Kenyatta's burial in 1978... a year later...and the press of the time refused to write about it. When the Rwanda government was withdrawing from the country in 1994, with Kagame's boys on their tail, photographs are in plenty. Have a look at them and you will conclude whether that was a people of a growing economy. No wonder you mght be one of those people who swear DRC is a rich country.

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