The Executive Secretary of National Electoral Commission (NEC) in Rwanda, Charles Munyaneza has dismissed some people’s complaints that Rwanda’s parliamentary electoral system is designed in such a way that doesn’t allow the voters to thoroughly be aware of whom they vote and that it allows MPs not to be accountable to the citizens.
In the interview with Xinhua’s reporter, Munyaneza proves that the system was designed to suit in the Rwandan context and that the lawmakers undoubtedly agreed upon it.
“We don’t have different constituencies where we say this person is going to be elected in this sector to represent those specific people. We fought that would not help in promoting our national unit and reconciliation.” He says
According to him, voting the MPs calling them representatives of certain group of people (who live in the same region) is not the best way to hold the formers accountable to the voters as it may bring negative effects including tribalism.
“The system we have, allows different people to come in parliament. We don’t have to belong to this group of people, a so called tribe to be elected and we have seen the effect of these system in some countries where election has become tribal and people have been killed others fled.” Munyaneza adds.
He also pinpoints that the same system will be used in the upcoming parliamentary elections to be held in September 2-4 this year.
“These political parties provide the lists of their candidates and when they are going to campaign, they show the public (voters) those people who are on their lists. So, I think this problem of saying that they don’t know the MPs is not an issue.” Munyaneza underscores.
The Executive Secretary of NEC also adds that political parties and their candidates are held accountable after the elections because they even visit the voters and show them the MPs whom they elected.
He then clarifies that NEC is well prepared with the September parliamentary elections as it was endorsed by cabinet on 14th February 2018, revealing that Rwandans in diaspora will cast their votes in September 2 while the general election will be held on 3rd September across the country.
On 4th September, there will also elections for categories represented in the parliament including 24 seats reserved for women, 2 MPs elected by youth and one for handicapped.
Oswald Burasanzwe, The Executive Secretary of Political Parties’ Forum says that the Rwanda’s electoral mechanism governs Rwandans to elect 53 out of 80 parliamentarians through political parties but adds that Rwandans can change so if they wish.
Handling journalists’ question concerning the unsuitability of this system, in May 28, 2018, during the training session for those who will cover and report parliamentary election stories, Burasanzwe explained that the mechanism is embedded in 2003 Rwanda’s constitution as it was amended in 2015 referendum.
“It’s the system endorsed through referendum, with the aim of enabling Rwandans to avoid conflicts. This political will is geared towards the sustainability of country’s unity.” Burasanzwe added.
According to Oswald Niyonzima, Rwandan journalist, the system is inappropriate because people are supposed to elect political parties’ candidates whom they even don’t know and that those candidates ought to campaign in all parts of the country which creates difficulties for voters don’t know them. He reveals to Umuseke .rw
“Political parties prepare the lists of the candidates and then they start campaigning. This is not the right way to do so, because the citizen is inappropriately represented.” Niyonzima says.
According to the calendar of 2018 Parliamentary Election, the candidatures will be received from July 12-25, 2018, while the confirmed will be revealed on 6th August and electoral campaigns will be held between 13th August and 1st September.
Provisional results will be announced not longer than five days after the poll while the final results will be confirmed by September 16, 2018.
Munyaneza, however, says that the provisional results will be announced within 24hours due to effective systems put in place.
“Normally we don’t wait for all that time. We have put in place mechanisms including the IT systems that enable us to announce at least provisional results within 24 hours.” Munyaneza adds.
Rwandan Parliament consists of 106 parliamentarians including 80 elected for a 5year term in the lower chamber and 26 senators elected for an 8year term in the upper chamber and it is possible that all 53 out of 8o parliamentarians can be elected from political parties’ lists if no independent candidate get the vote.
The 2010 Senate’s research revealed that Rwandans trusted in political parties at 53.7% while 2014 research indicated that it rose up to 61.3%.
The Rwanda Governance Board’s research conducted in 2017 revealed that Rwandans appreciate political parties’ role in country’s development at only 57.2%.