Rwandan President Paul Kagame will on Thursday begin a four-day in-person citizen outreach programme in the western and southern provinces, the first in three years and the second in his third term.
During the tour that runs until Sunday in the districts of Ruhango, Nyamasheke, Nyamagabe and Karongi, Kagame is expected to have interactions with ordinary citizens mainly focused on local government service delivery.
He will also hold closed-door sessions with opinion leaders.
The tour comes at a time when the country is grappling with the prolonged negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy, including reversing gains in poverty reduction.
Joseph Nkurunziza Ryarasa, Executive Director of Never Again Rwanda, an NGO focused on promoting good governance and peacebuilding, told The EastAfrican that the outreach provides a platform for active citizen participation as well as assessment of local service delivery.
“The citizen outreach programme is an opportunity for President Kagame to see the reality on the ground compared to what he reads in reports. It is also an opportunity for him to get people’s views of his governance.
“The outreach is an opportunity for the citizens to raise problems that have not been solved by concerned institutions or where justice has not been delivered. The programme has proven to be effective because we have seen problems raised by citizens being solved on the spot.”
The tour comes ahead of the country’s next year’s parliamentary elections, and presidential elections in 2024.
The notable districts that will be visited include Nyamasheke and Karongi which are close to the DRC border where residents were affected by insecurity.
President Kagame was last on the district tour in May 2019 and 2018 during parliamentary elections.
In the 2019 Citizen Outreach programme, he held a rally in Burera District in Northern Province, visited Rubavu district near DR Congo, toured Rutsiro District, and concluded with a rally in Nyamasheke district.
During the pandemic, President Kagame held a virtual citizen outreach in which he interacted with citizens remotely through the national broadcaster TV and radio, and on social media channels.
Kagame’s last virtual presence in September 2020 covered various topics including the government’s Covid-19 response, Paul Rusesabagina’s trial, and Rwanda’s relations with neighbouring countries including Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.