Elita Chikwati, Harare Bureau
President Mnangagwa yesterday said he was charmed by the efficient governance systems in Rwanda, including the excellent performance of its highly organised young chief executives.
He said this at a meeting in Harare where Rwandan governance expert, Ms Clare Akamanzi addressed Cabinet Ministers, Politburo members, senior Government officials and members of the private sector.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda and his deputies were also in attendance.
Ms Akamanzi, who is the Rwandan Development Board (RDB) chief executive officer, was accompanied by RDB chief operations officer, Mr Emmanuel Hategeka.
The two shared their experiences on how Rwanda managed to improve the ease of doing business and economic performance after emerging from the genocide on minority Tutsis of 1994.
President Mnangagwa said he was smitten by Rwanda’s way of doing business when he went to the east African nation for an African Union summit last month.
“During my visit to Rwanda, I was impressed. I met the CEOs of Rwanda and hardly anybody was above 50; very young. I did not know why, and President Paul Kagame explained to me. We then agreed that a team be sent here to share with us their experiences,” President Mnangagwa told his audience yesterday.
“Rwanda is not as gifted as Zimbabwe in terms of resources and is 15 times smaller than Zimbabwe in size, but the manner in which they are organised is a marvel.
“I felt it was necessary for you my colleagues to be exposed to Kigali and I asked President Kagame to send us his team,” he said.
“I have no doubt a majority of us will appreciate what Rwanda has achieved, especially in the manner they process investment. It’s like a machine. Here we do not even know when an investor comes or where he will stay and he may spend three weeks moving from one ministry to another. If the minister is out, the investor may wait for him to come back; it’s absolutely unnecessary.
“Systems must continue to function and this is what we want to achieve,” he said.
Ms Akamanzi said their invitation by the Zimbabwean Government showed the country was keen to follow through on its commitment to open up and develop its economy.
“Zimbabwe is not only open for business, but clearly you mean business, Mr President,” she said.
For Rwanda to make significant progress, she said, it stressed unity, accountability and aiming high.
“We united our people because we came from a history of division. The first priority was to ensure that the Rwanda that was being built was united; that everyone could see themselves in. The youths, women, educated, rural and urban and all those that came from outside the country to be part of the re building. So unity was very important,” she said.
“The second thing President (Kagame) said was think big. Even though we were coming from the lowest place you could imagine, even though we had a divided past, even though we had challenges such as being a landlocked country with few skilled people, the point was how could we think about that and aim high. How can we think Rwanda can achieve what other developed countries can achieve. Thinking big changed our mindest and trained us.”
She said Rwanda also established strong institutions to enhance accountability.
“Accountability ensured leaders remained accountable to the citizens and the citizens remained accountable to the leaders,” she added.
Mr Hategeka told the same meeting that central to Rwanda’s transformation was the private sector, including running the public service as efficient as the private sector.
“Our President (Kagame) ran the country like a company and so there were performance contracts. It’s not exclusive to enterprises and corporations, it also works in the public service. And every ministry and government employee at the beginning had to sign performance contracts that contained the priorities that impact positively on the lives of the people, and was signed by the President,” he said.
Mr Hategeka said there was also deliberate effort for Government, civil society, the private sector and citizens to work around an agreed agenda and national vision.
“The national dialogue brought accountability. It was a moment of truth,” he said.
Rwanda has also made significant progress towards gender inclusivity, with 64 percent of its leadership being women.
The Rwanda Development Board is a one-stop centre responsible for making instant decisions on investment inquiries across all sectors of the economy and as a result, it only takes six hours for one to start a business in Rwanda.