The Chronicles

Serving Your Right to Know the Truth

Month: August 2015

  • Our party weak to contest for presidency – Rucibigango

    THE PRESIDENT Of the Labour Party (PRS) in Rwanda, Jean Baptist Rucibigango told The Chronicles in an exclusive interview that his party is weak and not ready to contesting for the presidency in 2017 when President Kagame is expected to end his second and final constitutional mandate. Hon Rucibigango said “...PSR is not ready” and in 2017,

    “we shall still be organising ourselves...we have no money to open up offices [out of Kigali]....we are still interested in giving civic education” to our members.

    The leader of PSR also wondered “who would be interested in leading a country like Rwanda still divided along ethnic lines” among other problems cited. The ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front party candidate President Kagame is serving out his last term of office – but already, a small coalition partner the Rwanda Labour Party (PSR) categorically affirms it does not aspire to take over the highest office in the land.

    Besides stating that his party is not ready to lead, he added: “That [seeking the presidency] has never been part of our political programme,” said party leader, Hon Jean Baptist Rucibigango in an interview with The Chronicles last week. “We do not want power. Our programme entails advocacy for the social welfare of all Rwandans.”

    The motivation behind this position, Rucibigango says, is because parties focus more on taking the presidency – overlooking the concerns of the electorate. As to whether the constitution should be amended to make room for President Kagame to rule until he sees fit to leave, Rucibigango preferred not to speak about the issue saying, “leave me out of that debate”.

    The PSR party rose as a university student movement in the 1980s. In 1992, following mounting internal and donor pressure on ex-Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana to open up political space to his critics, PSR was born. It had observer status during the 1993 Arusha talks that eventually led to a peace deal meant to halt the advancing Rwanda Patriotic Army rebels.

    PSR would eventually break up just before the 1994 genocide– in what was blamed on the ruling MRND party. The current leadership even accuses the splinter group - which called itself the United Democratic Workers (RTD), of being part of the execution machine for the genocide. Over the years, it has been in coalition with the dominant RPF – backing President Kagame in the 2003 and 2010 presidential polls. During the parliamentary elections in 2003 and 2008, PSR along with six other small parties agreed with the RPF to field a single list of candidates. PSR received one single seat among the list of 42 slots on the coalition list. Rucibigango is party leader and the only PSR Member of Parliament.

    Why is PSR not ready to contest for the presidency? “You could win power by playing the ethnic card,” says the lawmaker. “PALIMEHUTU manipulated the Hutus and won more than 80 percent of the vote, or ZANU-PF of [President Robert] Mugabe sidelined others through the same tactic. “PALIMEHUTU’s rule did not last for even ten years as it was deposed in 1973 despite winning more than 80 percent of the votes earlier!” adds Rucibigango.

    “Am trying to illustrate to you that putting political power at the front of a party’s political programme, is not a good idea. PALIMEHUTU ruled for less than ten years!” So who does PSR intend to back come 2017? Rucibigango is non-committal, and prefers not to even speak about the subject. “We just elected President Kagame last year,” he argues. “In the next six years, we are much more concerned on improving the lives of Rwandans than who will replace the RPF candidate.”

    When put to him that some parties have publicly said they want the constitution amended to allow President Kagame continue ruling past 2017, Rucibigango simply retorted: “I have not yet thought about that...The discussion about that [President Kagame seeking reelection] should end there. If others have decided, it is their choice.”

    When we informed him that the Ideal Democratic Party (PDI) of Internal Affairs Minister, Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana had made it clear they wanted President Kagame’s two term lengthened, Rucibigango said the parties had an unwritten understanding not to comment on each other’s affairs. “That can result in criticising others...that could be the culture elsewhere, but in Rwanda we have chosen the path of mutual respect...actually we should end that discussion or the interview stops.

    “Besides, choosing who PSR will support is not the choice of Rucibigango. NO! It is a long process that involves all party organs right from the grassroots,” says the lawmaker, but he declines to divulge the number of party members on the PSR register. “We have many members – actually even you [The Chronicles reporters] are members because you are employees; the challenge we face is resources to organise our members,” Rucibigango says, before adding: “Besides, even if I had a particular figure, I would not tell you. That is a secret every party keeps.”

    Dr. Jean Baptist Mberabahizi under fire Among the founders of PSR is exiled politician Dr. Jean Baptist Mberabahizi – who is currently Secretary General of the European-based wing of the United Democratic Forum Inkingi (FDU-Inkingi), the party of embattled opposition politician Victoire Ingabire who is on prosecution in the country over several serious charges.

    Rucibigango says Mberabahizi has “no personality”. “He left PSR...joined the RPF after the war and is now with Ingabire. Would you take such a person seriously?” poses Rucibigango, adding that he had attempted to woo Mberabahizi against joining Ingabire, but it was too late.“He has no ideology,” he recaps.

    Continue reading  
  • How to be a SMART Rwandan: 2012

    Kezio-Musoke David takes us through a few business resolutions which could make a real change for the better in the New Year. Some could take years and a great deal of coordination to implement while others could be enacted with just the flick of a pen.

    Acquire a smart phone and probably a tablet In 2012 smart phones are definitely going to evolve into pocket-size, convergence centers that enable users take their business content with them.Smart communication, like receiving emails in real time is key to results oriented bosses.

    Tigo Rwanda and MTN Rwanda are selling (among others) three of the world’s most celebrated smartphone brands. They include the BlackBerry, the i-Phone and probably the Samsung Galaxy tabs. Tigo is also selling the i-Pad, while MTN has seriously pushed the Galaxy. Until last year smart gadgets used to be for those who can afford and probably for public servants including cabinet ministers but not anymore. In Rwanda, purchasing of smart gadgets will no longer major on strong brands simply because top-tier manufacturers have now started launching low-cost models. This will ensure that the entire market is catered for in terms of affordability and also in regard to status, age, not forgetting occupation based need..

    Move your business to a digital platform Everyone has a Facebook account, everyone is twitting, even President Paul Kagame is doing so. Brands and businesses are making their presence felt on social networks. As the social media landscape becomes more crowded in 2012, businesses will pick their battles and dig in. What used to be simply Facebook and Twitter is now Google+, LinkedIn and who knows what’s next? The New Year is definitely one for photo and video-based social interaction to grow. Given that the camera on your smartphone is almost as good as your actual camera, the multimedia-driven social networks are here to stay and will be an emerging force for brands in 2012. Brands will embrace real time. And while they move to agile marketing and real-time thinking, gone will be the days when it took six months to develop and launch a campaign or five days to answer a disgruntled customer. Brands will master the art of opportunistic marketing and the art of real-time response.

    Buy BK or Bralirwa shares By Friday last week, BK and BRALIRWA shares closed at Rwf125 and Rwf325 respectively at the Rwanda Stock Exchange. At the end of formal trading hours, there were outstanding offers of 595,200 BK shares while on the BRALIRWA counter; there were offers of 24,400 shares.

    Let’s start with why one should buy shares in these two entities. Last year, BRALIRWA announced volume growth of 26.3 percent driven by strong growth of the Primus and Mützig beer brands and higher soft drink sales. Revenue grew 26.5 percent, driven mainly by higher volumes. By the end of the year, BRALIRWA was already announcing the payment of an interim dividend of Rwf7.3 per share amounting to Rwf3.7 billion to shareholders.

    BK is, without doubt, the biggest and most profitable bank in Rwanda with total financial assets of Rwf197 billion and profits of Rwf6.179 billion. Buying shares in the country’s biggest corporations gives an immediate source of profits. Shares are the quickest and easiest asset one can own without any intricacies. It is also a way of saving money for the future. And what better way to invest in some of the most profitable companies? Probably 2012 is when you might consider buying shares from either or both.

    Register on a mobile money platform After MTN’s Mobile Money, Tigo Rwanda launched Tigo Cash and soon after came two other instant revolutionaries. Bank de Kigali launched ‘Mobiserve’ and thereafter BanquePopularie (BPR) introduced Izi Cash, another way of transferring money in Rwanda in real time. This means mobile money is no longer an exclusive product for telecoms.

    MobiServe and Izi Cash are proudly Rwandan products. One can send money using Izi Cash to a non BPR account holder and they will be able to withdraw transferred amount from BPR ATM machines anywhere in the country without an ATM card. The same goes with BK’s Mobiserve and its amazing! We all know the benefits of mobile money platforms, fast and convenient, but the question is: how much are these benefits worth? For the receiver, there is increasing security, certainty to reduce fraud and charge back risk. For the sender, all payment types are incorporated into a single device. But the main benefit is that with mobile money, one can transfer money seamlessly without expensive wire transfers or cheques. For a frequent banker, the average cost of a wire transfer is Rwf 9000.

    Become your own boss in 2012 Ever wondered how many billionaires we have in Rwanda? Or maybe, who could be the richest person in the country? Whether we have billionaires or not, it’s embarrassing that the few rich in our society are less of entrepreneurs and hardly own any of their own businesses. They are simply employed. Rwanda’s private sector is still nascent and one can only imagine what would happen, if government decided to take a few days of holiday. Simply put, the economy would stumble. 2012 is probably the year when you might want to be an entrepreneur, start your own business and make a difference to Rwanda’s economic future. It’s disturbing to imagine that up to today, most of the chicken sold in supermarkets and consumed in hotels and restaurant is packed and imported from neighbouring countries. Why not set up a poultry farm that processes and packs chicken? Developing an enterprise which is as small as a piggery or poultry farm is not about signing cheques to gain points. It’s about having a holistic approach. And since it takes only hours to register a business with Rwanda Development Board, this could be your year.

    Cut the costs Whether you are running a business or not and you have not given too much thought to what the landscape will look like in 2012, I could save you the time. Let’s start with the global trend. There is the European debt crisis and huge deficit in the US. You might be thinking this has nothing to do with you. Yes, but it’s only the foolish who believe that what is impacting most of the world will not come back to haunt us. It is simply a result of an unavoidable domino effect. With all the knowledge we now have about the global economy, it’s not hard to predict further deterioration in 2012. Therefore, it is better to take action now. Cutting costs can be painful but it reaps immediate results and is under your direct control. An owner or manager needs to eliminate or trim all but the definitively necessary costs during the course of the year.

    Open a US dollar account The trends in the global economy definitely diluted the value of the exchange rate. Those who travel regularly and have business interests in overseas must have felt the pinch. However, if one makes regular transactions in US dollars, you may benefit from a US dollar bank account. You'll also need an account in US dollars if you are paid in the currency.

    The main reason you might want to open a U.S. dollar account is to stockpile the currency while at a favourable exchange rate. While it is a question of whether the dollar will stay at parity, 2012 will certainly be a good time for Rwandans to purchase the greenback, if they intend to use them .The benefits are clear as one can avoid the exchange rates at latter times. With this account in some banks, you can apply for a dollar deferred debit card to withdraw cash or make payments anywhere a VISA sign is displayed worldwide.

    Consider cloud computing If you are a big enterprise or government institution investing in technology or upgrading might be your priority for 2012. Businesses should look to the cloud. Allowing software programmes and databases to be accessed via a remote server, cloud computing does away with the need for cumbersome and expensive computer systems. It can be adopted by government. Rather than every ministry running a separate database, a terminal and an access code could link up tax collectors to the payroll department, saving time and money. In the private sector, a cloud would allow companies to concentrate in-house on what they are good at.

    Continue reading