RPF is 30; thank you but no party, we have a lot of work ahead
10 months ago, 29 Dec 14:09
This has been one of the busiest end-of-year periods in Rwanda’s recent history. The country’s ruling party, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi) marked its 30th birthday. For anyone with keen interest in politics in Africa, the role of political parties and the intelligentsia in how it is organised and practised, there was much food for thought in the activities surrounding the event. There was no marching through the streets. There were no spectacular displays of anything. A bit of self-congratulation by some members aside, there were no vuvuzelas. It was the kind of celebration that might make one say “these people don’t know how to party”. It was also rather serious business, starting with an international conference on December 12 to discuss “liberation and transformation,” with three main thematic areas: Transformation, resilience, and self-reliance. In town to reflect on the history of the RPF, other liberation movements and parties and Africa in general, was former president of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa, and guests and friends of Rwanda; political, intellectual and civic leaders from elsewhere in Africa and beyond. There were the party faithful in their different guises, young and old, listening attentively and remembering how far the RPF, Rwanda and Rwandans have come over the past 25 years the party has been at the helm. There were the leaders of the country’s other political parties, also in the room to mark what is an important milestone not just for the RPF, but for Rwanda as a country. It was quite a conversation, the kind your average, run-of-the-mill political party in Africa is incapable of conceiving, let alone organising. Following on the heels of the international conference was the RPF’s biennial congress. The three-day event continued with the reflections and critical self-examination. The first day, an entirely internal party affair, was dedicated to something of a clinical dissection of the past three decades, focusing on achievements, challenges, and lessons learnt. A key highlight of the day, according to reports, was the call to party members to cease basking in the party’s and the country’s achievements and focus instead on what they have not yet done but which they must do. Besides amendments to the party’s statutes, the second day focused on “shaping Rwanda for global challenges and opportunities.” Post-genocide Rwanda, as anyone who cares to know does, has by the sheer number of achievements it has registered across many domains, surprised and proved wrong those who wrote it off in the 1990s as destined to become another of Africa’s case studies of failed state building. And yet the country’s political and intellectual leadership who led the discussions are unwilling to allow themselves to be sedated by the strides it has made. Rather, as they look out for and pursue new opportunities, they remain keenly aware of the imperative to remain vigilant and take nothing for granted, urging fellow Rwandans to do the same. Day three produced the action plan for the coming two years before the next congress, and saw the party ...
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