Mushikiwabo’s journey to victory had ups and downs. She admitted in her farewell speech on Saturday night that indeed the trail was tense and never wrecking, but mirthful.
She won and she is gone, but, like she said, “On Est Ensemble”, Turikumwe, We Are Together.
About two weeks ago, we asked Minister Johnston Busingye to share with us what could have been the cost of securing Mushikiwabo’s win, what Rwanda and her team went through, how hard it was, the role of the government and what this is going to create in terms of Rwanda’s foreign policy. Will her position as head of the la Francophine give Rwanda an upper hand on a global stage?
Below is the excerpt.
This is a very big question. The cost…in terms of materials and finance… let me take it to another side; let me say that the cost of competing for a global position in terms of what you as country stand up to do, you represent, how you articulate the vision of what your candidate wants to, always requires the country’s support. It is not the first time we have had leaders in places that are supranational; we have had leaders before and when Rwanda fronts a candidate, normally Rwanda rallies behind that candidate. In terms of what cost, I think it is every costly, it is what was required in terms of the presentation of our candidate, the presentation of her agenda, in terms of visiting. I think you realized that Mushikiwabo conducted a lot of travels globally; I think all this should really be part of the cost of getting a candidate to be presented and to win.
But let me make two comments. One, in terms of the benefits, there are many lessons that we should be learning from these things. One is that consensus can be build not just domestically or just on the African continent but globally. Through the election of Mushikiwabo, we have seen that Rwanda can modestly contribute to the building of consensus together with many other countries in the world, with many other global institutions. And in the end we all saw that Mushikiwabo was a consensus candidate.
Number two, one big lesson on our continent is that if we speak with one voice as the African continent, there is always a benefit at the end of it. We stand together and survive, we stand divided and don’t survive or not survive as well as we would have survived. So the election of Mushikiwabo teaches us that very important lesson. It is not the first time. We have been trying to galvanize Africa on the continental free trade area, galvanize Africa on free movement.
Speaking with one voice is unmistakable. Now there is ample evidence that when Africa speaks with one voice, there is everything to benefit. So, Rwanda made her modest contribution to that situation where Africa speaks with one voice. I think you saw that towards the end of the campaign period, Mushikiwabo was Africa’s candidate and that was very important for us Rwanda and Africa and I think there are other countries beyond Africa that saw that this is now Africa’s candidate and probably made their decisions on the basis of that.
Number three: There is also another lesson that we learnt, may be it is a benefit that we got from recognition of our modest role in the promotion of peaceful, useful and mutually beneficial global governance. This thing of these institutions which govern the world in different ways…I think Rwanda also played its role in building and contributing to mutually beneficial governance.
This whole system of who is superior, who is inferior, who is first world, who is third world, I think you saw, you had a sense of the feeling that we are all here, we are all equal, we all have a voice, we are all on the table and not on the menu. So this whole business of being on the table and being on the menu, the election of Louise Mushikiwabo, I think I made this point very clear, Rwanda and many other African countries made their modest contributions to this peaceful and mutually beneficial global governance institutions.
And finally, I think there are some of these limits, barriers that have been there in our mindsets where you continue to feel you are too small to go beyond barrier X or you are limited by your size or your economy…I think more and more Africa is waking up the fact that you can only be limited by your ideas not by the size of your country or by the level of your GDP. I think it’s becoming very clear that you are limited by the size of your ideas, ambitions, by where you want to be and how you want to interact with everyone on the global scale.
So, to me, if you ask about the cost, that is how I would want you understand that. Let me say that from the year 2000 to date, Rwanda has slowly, but steadily assumed its modest role and it has made its contribution to the global stage. It is not the first time that Rwanda is on the global stage. It’s been making its contributions primarily in the interests of one person, but in the end, they take our country to a global stage and if you look at what I was just speaking about, contribution to speaking with one voice, I think our country is making her contribution in global affairs more than it had ever done since God created it.
If you look at the last 18 years, you will find that there are much more activities that we have done that make sense for the world, for Rwandans more than ever before. So that is already out there. The election of Mushikiwabo as the Secretary General of la Francophonie simply comes to reinforce this. Obviously, she is a global civil servant, she is not the civil servant of Rwanda.
She is a civil servant of an organization that is supranational but the fact that she is Rwandan does not escape notice that she is Rwandan. One way, we are on the global stage, and probably it is where we continue to be, what role do we continue to play, how do we continue to build peace, how do we continue to contribute to equitable global governance, how do we continue to speak for mutual and beneficial relationships, how do we continue to go through the glass feelings that the world has over the last couple of decades imposed on first world, second world, third world.
It is basically how we continue to make our contribution as a country rather than how we as a country become like a solo global player. I don’t think there is a benefit in going alone as a solo global player, I think there is a benefit in going with others, in mobilizing others, in making contribution where there is a good thing happening that is beneficial to the Rwandans and to the world. I think that should be the spirit.
For Rwandans, I think the message should be clear; if you fight to make serous contribution whether it is at national, continental or global level and it is useful and beneficial and it cuts across boundaries, it is recognized. My message to fellow Rwandans would really be: Let’s keep doing our best, let’s keep making our modest contribution, it is noticed. We will be like many others on the global stage.