On 19 September 2018 the magically elected batch of Rwanda’s 80 members of Parliament was sworn-in amidst opprobrium of overtaxation and spendthrift costs of the government. The number of MPs is expected to swell to over 105 when the non-elected MPs are appointed as it was in 2011. In addition to the electoral manipulation whereby the RPF has majority, the additional 27 parliamentarians will belong to the RPF ruling party, this procedure of appointing will increase the majority of RPF by 30%. No where in the new world of governance parliamentarians are appointed. And any increase in number goes in increasing in cost for the government.

According to the article published by Dr David Himbara in August 2018, between June 2017 and July 2018, Rwanda accumulated US$1.2 billion in debt. He indicated that Rwanda’s debt as of June 2017 was US$3.2 billion. In the past 13 months, Rwanda’s debt has climbed to US$4.4 billion. Rwanda’s debt is now 49 percent of the GDP.

This means that the Government of Rwanda would have been careful not to make profligate spending of the public treasury during elections and would have thought of reducing the number of MPs because the constitutional roles of the legislature: representation, legislation and oversight can be performed effectively with a small number of MPs. With a population of 12 million people and a GDP of US$9 billion, even the Parliament which had 80 directly elected MPs was exceedingly oversize.

In most of East-African nations like Uganda, it is recommended that per capita representation be set at 200.000 per MP which would translate into 60 MPs for a population of 12 million people. If we consider a country like the UK which has 650 parliamentarians with a population of 65.64 million, Rwanda should have less than 80 members of parliament given its low economy. If a country like Germany has 709 parliamentarians with a population of 82.67 million, Rwanda should have the maximum number of 60 MPs. Is it  because the Kagame administration wants to perform highly that it has decided to increase the number of Parliamentarians? Everyone knows that the Rwandan parliament is one of the most counter-productive in the world. It is the system in which the parliament exercises its functions which determines the production or good service delivered, not the quantity.

Now let us see how Rwanda could economize money for other sensible fields of development by increasing quality of parliamentarians and reducing the number of them.

Viewing the conservative estimates of the cost of each MP, reducing the size of the legislature by 60 MPs would save Rwanda’s cost of public administration approximately Rw.Frs 6.7 billion every five-year term of parliament. Considering the monthly salary of Rw.Frs 2.509.940 per parliamentarian we get Rw.Frs 1.317.718.500 expenses in salary in five years  for 105 parliamentarians.

Meaning that Rwanda could save Rw.Frs 6.776.838.000 with 60 MPs in five years. On the aspect, if Rwanda did consider the current number of parliamentarians (80), it could still be economizing Rw.Frs 3.764.910.000 in five years.

As it’s stated in the Presidential Decree N°004/01 of 16/02/2017 determining the amount of salaries and other allowances given to the high officials of the government, an MP earns a salary of Rw.Frs 1.774.540, cell phone communication allowance of Rw.Frs 50.000, internet communication allowance of Rw.Frs 35.400 and accommodation allowance of Rw.Frs 250.000. Most of the money comes from taxes and loans but on the average, an MP earns about Rw.Frs 2.5 million per month.

As a result, the 80 MPs will require US$236.229 monthly and US$2.8 million annually in salaries alone and in five years the government will have spent US$14.1 million on 80 MPs. This figure mentions nothing about the money required for MPs’ other various allowances such as air tickets, meals, accommodation and transport allowances when they travel countrywide for a variety of duties.

The Kagame-RPF System concentrates on creating administration units such as government boards, more municipalities and more constituencies and yearly spends about 30% of its budget on public administration while very little money is spent on drivers of economic growth. Agriculture which employs 83.3% of the active population is allocated a meager fund.

As the cost of parliament and the entire public administration soars, the burden of the nationals as tax payers also weighs them down. The Kagame regime’s misconception of creating more administration units wreaks havoc on economy and condemns ordinary people to abject poverty. The biggest cost as a result of a crowd-size parliament is actually in form of political corruption. It is crystal clear that the real beneficiary of an oversize parliament has always been President Paul Kagame and this is how the accountability function of parliament has been undermined, abused, sidestepped and even tailored to fit in Kagame’s world of personal interests.

For instance, President Kagame manipulated the 3rd parliament to amend the Constitution in 2015 — putting him in position to stay in the office for as long as he wishes. He also influenced the 3rd parliament to legislate against the tax payers and shifted some taxes ten times as much (here one can state the tax on land property). Kagame also advanced terror to MPs 一 something that makes them subject to his selfish interests.

The 3rd parliament was also too impotent to impeach the President and his connivers like ex-Minister of Infrastructures James Musoni and other government officials implicated by PAC for embezzlement of billions of francs meant for public infrastructures. Examples: In his political incitement while proclaiming the new cabinet on 31 August 2017, President Kagame blamed Minister of Infrastructures James Musoni for spending public funds contrarily to the conception of projects. Kagame said that it was unexplainable how a road of six metres wide could be turned into a pedestrian path. Nonetheless, he reappointed the same Minister whom he himself condemned of misusing the public money. The fact that the parliament has acquiesced in these politically corrupt practices shows how an oversize dictated parliament is more a burden than a solution to the nation.

The 3rd parliament was counter-productive in all field of development. Indeed Rwanda still having 45% of people in extreme poverty, living without pure drinking water and enough to eat. Insecurity, methodical killings of the nationals, corruption and nepotism have become common things in Rwanda today.

For the first time, two feigned opposition parties walked off with 5% at the previous parliamentary elections and this means that Democratic Green Party of Dr. Frank Habineza and PS Imberakuri of Christine Mukabunane have seats in the fourth parliament. Yet, no significant change can be expected from both opposition parties because like PSD and PL, they are traditional sattelites of the RPF. They cannot challenge the RPF as they mainly represent the interests of President Paul Kagame and, therefore, their legislative representation will achieve nothing other than political masquerades because they are a mean of regime elongation.

The RPF has done everything to show the world that everything is better as some new members from other parties came in parliament. But if it is so, why didn’t President Paul Kagame allow other opposition parties like FDU Inkingi and PS Imberakuri of Bernard Ntaganda and parties in exile like Ishema Party of Father Thomas Nahimana to participate? Why didn’t he open the political space for all Rwandans?

Simply Paul Kagame is afraid to lose if his party gets proper challengers. In the new Lower House, RPF has 35 seats, PSD 5, PL 4, Green Party 2, PS Imberakuri of Christine Mukabunane 2, PDC 1,  PPC 1, PDI 1, and PSR 1. Like its predecessor, the new parliament is RPF-studded with a ruling party leaning Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa 一 the MP who chaired the third parliament and played a remarkable role in the anticonstitutional amendment of article 101 of the 2003 Constitution to remove presidential term limits for Kagame. This new parliament dominated by RPF will bring nothing better for the people.

Since the 25 women representatives, 1 MP for persons with disabilities and 1 youth MP belong to the RPF and come to the parliament through magic promotion by group screening of the RPF, they cannot hold the legislative accountable and their presence in parliament only increases its cost. These women do not perform the cardinal roles of the legislature but they only push Kagame-RPF System’s agendas. Parliament, which is presumably supposed to represent the people, is exploited by Kagame to reach his antidemocratic ambitions and expand the network of his legitimised dictatorship.

As a result, fascism is consolidating its power and democracy is not. The parliament has subverted democratic principles and thereby corroded the backbone of the development of Rwanda. The permanent inflation suffered by the Rwandan currency is largely due to the profligacy of excessive cost of the administration.

All can be put right if the country is liberated from the aristocratic yoke of the RPF and embark on a democratically conceived system based on strong institutions through the separation of powers, checks and balances, freedom of expression, a free press and a right for the people to protest and petition the government in which the civil society and professional organizations back up the government through criticism. The struggle is likely to be at high level for a better Rwanda. Teamwork and integrity are needed in the opposition.

Written by:
Jean Rukika
A London-based independent activist
Saturday, 22 September 2018