Opportunities Just Beneath the Surface: Participatory and Deliberative Processes in Rwanda - Accountability from the Citizenry or Government, Imihigo, Ubudehe, Umuganda, and Gacaca Institutions
For the last decade, Rwanda has been a darling of the international community in many respects. It is increasingly seen as a good place to do business. The Rwandan government has made great strides in reducing corruption. More
This report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. In a political system with overall weak contestation, is participation capable of improving accountability? If so, how? Accountability is a combination of answerability and enforcement, and may be viewed as vertical from the citizenry, or horizontal from adjacent government institutions. Through the socializing and deliberative participatory processes of informing, consulting with, involving, collaborating with, and empowering, horizontal accountability, and potentially vertical accountability, may be enhanced, even in authoritarian regimes. The government of Rwanda presents a unique opportunity to demonstrate this, since it appears to possess strong participatory institutions, yet it still has a limited level of contestation. This study of the Rwandan government system uncovers several potential examples of improving accountability achieved through various forms of participation, and builds a model for further study on the topic.
For the last decade, Rwanda has been a darling of the international community in many respects. It is increasingly seen as a good place to do business. The Rwandan government has made great strides in reducing corruption, to include being ranked 50 of 176 countries worldwide in Transparency International's rankings: Rwanda is one of the least corrupt states in the world, and in the top five for Africa. On the development front, The World Bank reveals that child mortality has dropped by two-thirds and there is almost universal primary school enrollment. Furthermore, from 2001 through 2015, the real GDP growth rate was a staggering average of 8% per year. The Rwandan civil service is young, motivated, and increasingly competent—a key enabling institution of growth and prosperity. Yet, it appears that real freedom has been elusive for Rwanda.
Organizations such as Freedom House paint a much bleaker picture, steadily reporting on what they view as the Rwandan government's efforts to suppress its infant democratic institutions. The parliament has little independence, political parties are weak, and the president is seeking a third term in office. A change which required the passing of a highly contested constitutional amendment in 2015. There are even reports of forced disappearances and possible assassinations of party enemies abroad. Citing numerous examples of floundering liberal institutions such as a weak media, restrictions on assembly, and little contestation of the regime in power, the previously painted rosy picture is not complete. How is this possible, when the constitution of Rwanda claims that these rights exist for all? The truth probably must lie somewhere in the middle.
This study will be organized into five chapters. This first chapter was the introduction, to include the literature review and hypostudy for the research. Chapter two will investigate the Rwandan government system moving from the central level, through the local level system, and ending with an explanation of the several home-grown institutions. Chapter three will analyze the system in terms of its respective qualities of contestation and participation, thus explaining potential weaknesses in its democratic structure and how participation may help address certain shortfalls. In chapter four, the levels of government and the home-grown institutions will be analyzed considering their potential contributions to accountability within the system. The final chapter will contain an overall conclusion, analysis of gaps in the available data, and some possible implications of the research.
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