, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – Rwandan President Paul Kagame has emphasised the need for unity between the National and County Governments if devolution is to succeed fully.
Speaking during a Governors’ forum in Naivasha on Monday, Kagame stressed that frank dialogue combined with working jointly was the only way that national goals could be achieved.
While drawing a parallel to Rwanda, he also stated the need for all Kenyans to seek home-grown solutions to challenges and have courage to confront them.
“I come from a country that has seen tragedies related to what we are addressing today… where you have a lot of diversity and have to bring together and harness that diversity for the common good rather than divide and disintegrate what is there,” he said.
He urged everyone to take ownership of the counties where they live as well as solutions in order to achieve progress.
“You must feel that what you are doing – and that goes to every level, individual, to the whole nation irrespective of differences and diversities – you must feel that what you are doing is your own and you contribute to it as your own and for your own well being,” he stated.
The Rwandan Head of State explained that devolution needs time to work and called on leaders and all Kenyans to be patient.
“Decentralisation system may not work from the start; it needs constant evaluation, monitoring and accountability. It is an opportunity to seek home-grown solutions for challenges. Let us embrace our diversity for the common good and take ownership of problems as well as the solutions in order to move forward,” he stated.
While emphasising that Kenya has set itself on a new path, Kagame stated that support from and coordination with central government is crucial in devolution.
“Look at your city as if it is your homestead, do you need donors to clean your homestead?” he posed. “Frank dialogue combined with working together is the only way national goals can be achieved. We need courage to face up to the challenges we have to confront. Africa will succeed when we understand what has held us back,” he said.
“Even with limited material means, unity is the only way devolution can be achieved. What we call in our place decentralisation and devolution requires both the autonomy of local governments and the capacity to deliver on their mandate. However, support from and coordination with the central government is indispensable.”
He pointed out that other actors including civil society and private sector also have critical roles in the context of productive and mutually respectful partnerships.
He indicated that within this framework, accountability of all actors is critical and leaders in particular have to earn the trust and confidence of their electorate.
“Rwanda stands with Kenya in the task of implementing a government framework. African governments have common aspirations and face common challenges. This gives us scope to learn from each other. It is up to us to put in place a leadership and governance built on local leads and is people-centred. In the business of government, there is no solution that does not involve citizens.”