Rwanda’s referendum: a democratic choice for Rwandans indeed

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has said he will announce whether or not he is running for the third term after the just concluded referendum. Rwandans have over 98  % in favour of amending the constitution and allow their leader a third term.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has said he will announce whether or not he is running for the third term after the just concluded referendum. Rwandans have over 98
% in favour of amending the constitution and allow their leader a third term.

Much has been written about the amazing story of Rwanda’s growth in the last 21 years. There are volumes of statistics all over the internet on Rwanda being one of the most remarkable economic turnarounds of our era.

Much has also been written about democracy and dating back to the writing of the Greeks about why, of all the systems of government devised by man, democracy should be the least of all evils.

Therefore, I will not rehearse and rehash these volumes of statistics on Rwanda’s amazing development or rehearse old Greek philosophy. Instead I think it is more prudent to discuss the future of Rwanda and President Paul Kagame’s third term in the most human of terms.

As one looks at the ongoing debate about whether or not His Excellency Paul Kagame should stand for president again in 2017, I am amazed by how much is being forgotten. It highlights for me the paradox of the relationship between Africa and the West.

As someone who has had formative years of my life in the “developed world”, where democracy and freedom are ideas as sacred as can be, I believe in democracy and its growth.

However, I have come to realise something that could have come from actually living in the places that the West is adamant about pushing democracy. Democracy is simply a means to an end and not the end itself.

I realised that strong institutions and the rule of law are simply tools to a certain end. That end is better quality of life for the citizens of a given country. And that democracy is designed to give people chance to decide for themselves what the best way to achieve that end is.

It is ironic, considering democracy’s pitiful state worldwide that, in accordance to its etymology, it literally means “common people’s rule” or, more simply, “people’s number one power.”

On one hand, the west tells us that democracy is made of strong institutions and not strong men.

The West says that it disagrees with President Kagame running for a third term but it would take a referendum from a democratically elected Parliament to amend the constitution to allow Kagame to run again!

Isn’t this an illustration of the “strong institutions” that the west says they prefer? There is no part of the movement to allow President Kagame to run for a third term that is not “democratic” and that doesn’t reflect “strong institutions.”

Our desire to have Kagame to stand for a third term isn’t a shallow myopic dedication to a principle or the sake of the principle.

It is a pragmatic adherence to the purpose of democracy, which is a quality of life for us and that of our children.

How we as Rwandans achieve what is completely our business. We will not obey what the West’s demands so we can dance to a political tune that is ill-suited to give us the best quality of life.

The contradiction of how the west is reacting to the desire of Rwanda to determine its own fate is worrying to say the least.

If the West truly believes in democracy, then it should let Rwanda determine its own fate.

Let us as Rwandans look at the quality of our lives and those of our children and ask ourselves if that quality is better with or without him being our president for one more term.

If we decide that it is, then let us put it in a referendum as we have done and choose to amend our constitution.

The author is Founder and CEO of MobiCash Group, Technology Evangelist & Pundit