President Paul Kagame dissolved the third house of Parliament on August 9, 2018. The Parliament had served for five years from December 4, 2013 to August 9, 2018.
This parliament will be remembered for many things ranging from funny moments to life changing statements.
The house was also a good platform that groomed some members of parliament which attracted the attention of the appointing authorities to promote them to other high political positions.
It is the same parliament that handled the biggest ever citizen petition that resulted into a referendum in which the constitution was amended.
The third parliament raised Rwandan flag on the international scene for leading the world in having the biggest number of women in parliament.
The lawmaking body, when it comes to parliament’s role of supervising the executive, it could be considered one of the most active parliaments which had a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that challenged several officials who were involved in mismanagement of public funds or/and abuse office.
At some point, PAC expelled some public officials from the house for giving lame excuses when tasked to answer some questions regarding public funds. But what else could have characterised this 3rd Parliament? KT Press put together a few of them.
Drones: Do we Lack Pilots for Our drones? MP Francesca Tengera asks
Despite being part of daily life in every lawmakers’ sessions all over the world, KT Press brings you some of rib-cracking moments in the house. An example was when, in a plenary session in April 2017, where the lower chamber was discussing about health services, MP Francesca Tengera was concerned about blood donation and poor usage of facilities that are used in blood delivery.
“We have drones. What is it that we are lacking? Is it the landing fields or don’t we have pilots for them? What could be the problem Honorable speaker”? She asked sending the house into laughter, as if she meant that drones could have pilots.
On another day, and on serious note – June 11, 2018, Juvénal Nkusi, President of PAC and longest serving MP who once served as speaker of parliament, reminded an official who was summoned, that parliament is not a place for jokes.
Inside the committee room full of Nyagatare district officials, one Emmanuel Mwumvaneza, the district internal auditor failed to account for Rwf200 million project and to show supporting documents.
“I don’t know anything about that, I am not an auditor,” Mwumvaneza said, angering MP Nkusi and obliging him to throw him out of the committee room immediately.
Indeed, the third parliament leaves a warning to several officials, that failure to perform can attract punishment.
PAC, among other committees pointed a finger at a number of officials where things were not right, and, after investigation, decisions would be taken.
A case was, for instance, in Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) where several senior officials were dismissed over abuse of office and other administrative mistakes.
Female parliamentarians making the majority at lower chamber also was not a reason for men to worry because they love everyone and can defend any cause to support anyone regardless of gender.
Payable paternity leave for men
On November 5, 2015, MP Esperance Nyirasafari – now current minister of Gender and Family promotion was among MPs in a plenary session discussing a bill that now gives a three month payable maternity leave.
During the session she wondered why not men too.
“Sometimes men also need a leave, maybe they can share the leave days with women. I wonder if this is considered since some take this leave to babysit a child and wife.”
Imihirimbiri , Child making machines
During presentation of relevancy of draft laws in plenary sessions, also some members of the Executive arm attracted public attention.
November 28, 2017, will remain in the memories of Rwanda’s media fraternity. Evode Uwizeyimana – Minister of State for Constitutional and Legal Affairs in the Ministry of Justice shocked the media by giving journalists a bizarre nickname.
During an appearance in a Parliament Political Gender Equality committee presentation on media defamation bill, the minister called members of Rwandan media ‘Imihirimbiri’ – loosely translated as ‘dirty ragged beings’.
The Minister will also be remembered in this parliament especially on the day he referred to women as ‘child making machines’ – creating a revolt on the floor of the house.
Incapable local coaches
Also at parliament on June 14, 2016, another Minister shocked football fans after a statement that they said, was undermining talents of nationals in soccer knowledge.
Julienne Uwacu, Minister of sports and culture who from being a MP, had just been appointed as Minister, appeared before parliamentary economic and budget committee to explain the policies in place to promote football in Rwanda.
Uwacu gave an explanation that many coaches didn’t prepare for.
Asked to explain on plans to have Rwandan coaches in line with the agenda of playing Rwandan national team, she said: “We don’t have a capable Rwandan man to coach, the ones available have capacity to coach second and third division teams only.”
Possession of firearms
Meanwhile, one of the bills that caused so much debate could be the bill providing for possession of firearms.
The lower chamber, in May 2018, passed a revised law that provides for citizens to apply for gun ownership on conditions of a clean criminal record and background check, but the following morning, a lot of debate in mainstream and social media obliged the authorities who drafted the law to call for an urgent press briefing to clarify.
“To possess an arm in Rwanda is as difficult as for a camel to pass through a niddle’s eye,” Justice Minister Johnston Busingye was quoted as saying.
Some people had started suggesting which arm they would acquire once the law is passed.
“I will buy an armored warfare and drive it whenever I go out for a beer,” one of concerned citizens posted on his social media account.
At one of radio stations in the capital Kigali, the first morning show featured sounds of several firearms with the host “trying to see which one would be nice to have.”
Loving a Head of State like never before
The third parliament will be remembered to have been the house which managed to have a referendum that was triggered by citizen’s huge petitions.
Over 4 million Rwandans petitioned the parliament especially on lifting of Presidential term limit. They mostly wanted the constitution to allow the president to run for a third term among others, but also had a big task to convince him to run again.
Excitement, zeal and determination of Rwandans was never seen before this journey which started in 2015.
Citizens carried millions of letters of petitions from across the country and flocked to Parliament.
They presented them to the House, all of them in style. Some would come dressed in wedding attires. “This is because we want to tell parliament that we are dating our current president, asking him to run again so that we show him the love we have for him,” one citizen from Rusizi district in Western Province told journalists.
Eventually, citizens managed to win the battle to convince President Paul Kagame to run again for a third constitutional term, and indeed, he won with a landslide.
Meanwhile, in several cases, the 3rd parliament groomed officials, or helped some MPs to show other talents that would earn them a promotion to other higher positions to serve the country in a greater level.
Former MPs who have moved a step in political cohorts include Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi –now Governor of Northern Province, Ministers Esperance Nyirasafari and Julienne Uwacu and Edouard Bamporiki who was appointed Chairperson of National Itorero Commission.