As lawmakers are sworn in, questions about process to elect them continue to linger

By BYANSI Samuel Baker

Kigali – Today, as 80 members of the Rwandan 4th parliament are being shown-in, voters continue to question a process used to elect them, with many arguing such a process of voting parties instead of individual merit tend to focus on loyalty other competence.

Some voters even don’t know members who represent them in the House as it’s not the electorate who voted them directly.

“A member of parliament should be interrogated first by the voters to see if one is able. We don’t want to have  “a yes” only parliament,” one voter from Gasabo district explained.

The sworn-in parliament will have 80 MPs with Rwanda patriotic front (RPF) coalition, which having 40 of the 53 elected seats while losing its absolute majority over the total of seats, while the Democratic green party of Rwanda (DGPR) and social party Imberakuri both entered parliament for the first time moving on with 2 seats each. 49 of the 80 seats of the newly sworn-in members of parliament are held by women (61%). This election maintained Rwanda’s position as the country with the highest proportion of female Members of parliament.

The 80-seat Chamber of Deputies is elected by two methods: 53 seats are directly elected by closed-list proportional representation in a single nationwide constituency with an electoral threshold of 5%, seats are allocated using the largest remainder method. The remaining 27 seats are indirectly elected by local and national councils, including 24 reserved for women (six from EasternSouthern and Western provinces, four from Northern Province and two from Kigali), two for representatives of youth and one for representatives of disabilities.

When a party gets 5% and above, the numbers of seats are given to the members according to the position they feature on their party lists.

However, some of the electorates don’t feel represented well because they don’t vote MPs directly where you find a need of voting personalities not political parties for the direct accountability after the end of their term.

Nevertheless, some of the political system allies in Rwanda believe that this unique costume line of democracy is eligible to Rwandans.

Bob, not real name a Rwandan aged 28 believe that this should be changed as he feels not well represented. “Some of these people in a real sense become members of parliament by accident due to royalty to the masters in their political parties but not capable to serve” he also added on that member of parliament in Rwanda in an actual sense are nominated not voted.

Bob rotates close to as Tom not real name and a member of Rwanda Patriotic Front – RPF and a parliamentary candidate who came through the party and voted it believes that the arrangement of the names on the list which is submitted to the National Electoral commission focuses on your royalty in serving the party masters, not competence in working for and representing the people.

Avoid embarrassment while in the house – Cerebrations to MPs, Worries to Citizens.

MPs celebrate their swearing-in but According to Tom, MPs appointed and listed first by the party masters in all the political parties through primaries are always going to either represent the parties and its leader views, not People. Whenever the Member of Parliament tries to oppose the view of the masters is likely to come last on that list in the next elections which stand him/her a chance to lose his position.

This is also visible on the ground where we managed to interview some voters, Habumuremyi voted and in his imagination, he feels as have voted RPF to be represented by Kagame, which shows a total confusion where the votes are not even informed about the role of the parliament and ends up worries to the voters.

Some of the scholars believe that this cannot stop the members of the parliament to serve Rwandans but to Tom they are mistaken, the nature of this appointment is why members of parliament can sit in their offices and decide on any issue to consult their masters / political parties heads than consulting the citizens.

“The 4th parliament with the opposition is to meet a challenge to avoid the kind of humiliation and drama that was faced by previous legislators who represented the citizens on papers and in offices while in space and actual sense represented their masters.” Said Tom

Therefore, there is a need to re-examine the current political arrangement and laws that govern elections in Rwanda and this I mean to be done by the legislators too.

Critics ask, how will Rwandans benefit from this political process of voting parties, not personalities where The MPs are not well accountable individually?

Here is why you will find RPF winning more of the seats and the opposition becomes weaker because of a constitutional arrangement that is probably inconsistent.

“This is running a false show of representative democracy, there is a need for a direct vote to a direct representative” Said Tom

The framers of the 2003 Constitution could have been well-intentioned in ensuring that the past divisive politics would be consigned to history but what was created is not representative democracy for the people.

Maybe the time to confront that reality and perhaps adjust and do as partner states in the East African community is now.

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