Speech by High Commissioner of Rwanda in South Africa, HE Vincent Karega at the 21st Liberation Day of Rwanda
15 August 2015
Honourable, Deputy Minister, Ms. Pamela Tshwete and Representative of the South African Government
Your Excellency Bene M’poko, Ambassador of DRC to South Africa and Dean of Diplomatic Corps
Honourable David Makhura, Premier of the Gauteng Province
Honourable Vice President of the Pan African Parliament.
Execellencies, dear colleagues, High Commissioners, Ambassadors, Heads of Multilateral and Bilateral organizations
Ambassador Selaelo Ramakhopa, Chief Director of Eastern Africa in DIRCO and all officials from DIRCO here present
Captains of Industry, friends from the corporate world, Academia, Media and friends of Rwanda.
Dear fellow Rwandans, my compatriots, mbahaye Ikaze
Ladies and gentlemen
Jambo, Sanibonani, Dumela, Muraho, Bonsoir, Good Evening, Cuier Nand, Botarde
I am privileged and honored to host you all on behalf of my beloved country, Rwanda.
We are gathered here to celebrate 21 years of recovery, reconstruction and speedy development of Rwanda after decades of sectarianism, cyclic violence that culminated in the genocide against the Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.
The dark part of our history from 1959 to 1994 due to bad politics of colonial times and the post independence era, have eroded our positive history over centuries of unity-stability and high level of organization in the old kingdom of Rwanda.
Queen mothers were so powerful before colonial times, we knew the role of women was important in society including in governance structures earlier before we encountered the colonials.
The genocide in 1994 took away a million lives in 100 days and displaced about 3 million people out of 7 million then. The country was already very poor it became so depleted everything was in shambles, so many people traumatized, hatred and anger so rampant, lack of food, water, shelter and sanitation both in refugee camps and within the country.
Most experts predicted a failed state, others advised the country to be divided into two along ethnic lines and so forth.
We refused to become a failed state, and we resisted dividing a small country and splitting secular brothers and sisters into isolated groups. Today we are proud to be a united nation.
Tonight we are here to celebrate our progress led by the selfless leadership of Rwanda and our visionary President, Paul Kagame.
- We celebrate the big steps made so far in implementing our vision 2020. We plan to shift Rwanda’s economy from subsistence agriculture to a knowledge based one. We are effectively graduating from least developed and poor countries category towards middle income countries status.
- We celebrate the resilience of Rwandans and our leaders for achieving the reconciliation, peace and stability. The government, the parliament and Judiciary comprise of members of RPF the ruling party, and citizens of all walks, different political parties and role in the history. We have embraced a merit based system and affirmative action for women, we abolished ethnic denominations in IDs and ethnic related favors or fate of the past.
- 11000 former militia and army men from the past regime have been reintegrated in the army, the police and the Rwandan society at different levels. Only few about 2 to 3000 remain and continue to threaten Rwanda, but a regional mechanism of many countries has been put in place to ensure and sustain peace in the whole great region.
- Through the community justice system, known as Gacaca apologies were presented and forgiveness given leading to the shortening of time in prisons of those accused of committing genocide, reconciliation and peaceful cohabitation in rural or urban area.
- More than 95% of refugees who went in exile since 1959 and in 1994 have returned and resettled peacefully in Rwanda.
- Most prisoners accused of genocide have completed their sentence and live peacefully alongside with the survivors. It is quite a unique situation. They work together in agriculture, business, and community works, they share infrastructure and social services and together they rebuild Rwanda.
We are now a truly reconciled nation. We are re united more than ever. Together we share and own a common vision to take our country to new heights.
- Today Rwanda is highly rated by international bodies for progress in almost all sectors:
- Peace and security at home and we are the number 6 Global contributor to peacekeeping missions in troubled zones.
- We are among the 13 global fast growing economies yet we are not very much endowed with natural ressources.
- We are the 3rd in Africa for ease of doing business as per the World Bank indicator, the seventh most effective state globally and first in Africa according to the WEF rating this year. 1st globally for having more women in parliament at 63 percent.
- Recognitions in sectors of Land tilting and management.
- Successful implementation of the Agriculture Agenda to achieving food security and making the sector commercial.
- Achievement of MDGs goals in sanitation, reduction of child and maternal mortality beyond 50%, gender and education to name a few.
- Reduced malaria by 70% in the country.
- Reduced Aid dependency from about 80% in 1995 to 38% today.
- We implement transparency and zero tolerance for corruption policy: making Rwanda the least corrupt in Africa. Rwanda won awards in Environmental conservation and promotion of a green economy.
- We have achieved enormous progress in ICT: Most services are available online, 4G and optical fiber are extended countrywide.
- Growing Tourism, Industry, Mining, Financial and ICT sectors will increase our financial capacity and lead us into self reliance.
- One million people are lifted out of poverty every 5 years etc.
Rwanda, compared to where we come from, have achieved a miracle in such a short time, that is why we celebrate. However the magnitude of our challenges is so huge that when we look to where we want to be 20 years after our vision 2020 the journey is so long. We need more sophistication, technology, special skills and financial muscle. We are proud we have built a solid foundation with sound legal instruments, institutions and a new culture of patriotism, dignity and hardworking. Those key pillars give us the confidence that even the remaining journey we shall make it.
We know that the Government alone cannot achieve those ambitious goals. We need a much more vibrant private sector from within and abroad. We have a conducive environment for PPPs, stand-alone and mix business models. We are strong believers in the African renaissance, regional integration and we are implementing since 2012 the All Africans visa policy on entry. Waiver of work permit, student permit among Kenya and Uganda on reciprocal basis. We shall continue reforming and modernizing our systems to accommodate and sustaining private business in Rwanda.
We are members of the EAC common market and customs union, COMESA and Central African Community and we remain vocal to the fact that Africa must be open to Africans but of course in an orderly and regulated manner. Common markets, Air space, Standby forces to stop crises, south south trade, pan Africanism and dignity of Africa through a rapid socio economic transformation and solidarity.
Our achievements are products of sacrifice, rigorous policies, discipline and home grown solutions. We are generously helped financially and technically by Africans such as South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Tunisia and some OECD countries, the US and Asian countries. But most important we understand that the primarily responsibility for our development is ours. AID becomes effective when policies and plans are clear, systems work and corruption controlled and of course an exit strategy from AID to trade.
Business flourish when peace, security and less red tapes are guaranteed.
Citizens work hard when they see government playing its part in guarantying peace, security, basic infrastructure and delivery of social services.
Tonight we also celebrate about 25 years of cooperation and cordial relations between RPF and the ANC and our governments cooperate on various matters of bilateral and continental interests.
South Africa was amongst the first countries in the world to cooperate closely with Rwanda and supporting our emergency and recovery programs.
Our Unity and reconciliation commission was a closer partner with South Africa: Truth and Reconciliation body, similar relation and cooperation have been: Extended to Defense and Security, Public Service and capacity building, Regional peace mainly in the great lakes region, trade and investment, constitution drafting etc. We have investors from South Africa in Rwanda and Rwandans in South Africa some are in this room on both sides. Every year Rwandans obtain post graduate degrees from South Africa and return home to contribute to our development under the education MoU between our countries.
Trade wise statistics in Kigali Central bank show imports of 71 million $ in 2014 from South Africa and 3 million $ exports from Rwanda into South Africa.
As we grow and industrialize we expect to sell more and buy more to and from South Africa. We encourage our people to invest here and we expect more investments from South Africa.
South Africa and Rwanda have recommitted to revamp the bilateral relations, re-assess weak points and optimize on our legendary sisterhood to explore more opportunities for cooperation and trade and more strategic ways to move together and with other Africans the African Agenda 2063
Hon. Minister through you I wish to all South African women a very productive women month (malibongwe). We also thank you and the South African Government for supporting us tonight through your presence and that of the officials.
We thank our MC and singer Bongani NXkumalo & Spouse for being true friends and pan Africanists and for the good job they are doing to make this event a success.
In conclusion I wish to convey special thanks to South African investors already present in Rwanda for making contributions to the organization of this event.
Hydraform South Africa gave to the Government of Rwanda a special brick-making machine. Thank you so much we will deliver it and use it in the interest of the poor in Rwanda.
Thank you Paramount-TINCO for your financial contribution.
Thank you PPC Cement for your contribution.
Thank you SANLAM Insurance.
And a big thanks for most of the funding to Rwanda Development Board.
All of you High Commissioners, Ambassadors, Diplomats, thank you for making the trip from Pretoria. Fellow Rwandans murakoze. South African all of you here Siyabonga , Kyalaburah, Dankie.
EAC,ECOWAS, SADC,IGAD & North African friends here: Asanti, Akwaba, Shoukran, Obrigado
May I invite you, Honourable Deputy Minister Tshwete, to come forward for the toast and your speech.
To the health of President Jacob Zuma and the people of South Africa. cheers.