Senate Okays Heroes Bill
The New Times (Kigali)

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James Karuhanga

The Upper House of Parliament yesterday approved several bills including one determining the functions, organization and operation of the 'chancellery' for heroes and national orders.

The new legislation defines the characteristics of national heroes, analyzes the criteria for heroism and determines the categories of national heroes, among others.

"It also aims at establishing a system to identify, thank, honor and celebrate the memory of Rwandan citizens or foreigners who distinguished themselves by acts of heroism and other acts of bravery," states Article 1 on general provisions.

The bill defines a hero as any person who pursues objectives he or she undertakes to obtain a special achievement for the public interest and with proven high integrity, sacrifice and noble courage in his or her acts and who avoids cowardice.

'Imanzi', the supreme category, Imena and Ingenzi in that order, are the three established national hero categories. The bill also points out benefits to be accorded the heroes, among other things.

The lawmakers also approved the bill determining the organization and functioning of the School of Finance and Banking (SFB) and another that will help preserve culture with special emphasis on Kinyarwanda language.

Much debate, however, ensued before the bill determining the responsibilities, organization and functioning of the new Workforce Development Authority (WDA), was finally endorsed.

The senators quizzed Anastase Murekezi, the Minister of Public Service and Labor and Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education over the 'seemingly confusing' bill.

Senators especially sought clarity on 'the new development' after the Lower House of Parliament back in May approved legislation for an almost similar institution - the Rwanda Workforce Development Authority (RWoDA), among their other queries.

While quizzing the ministers, Senator Joseph Karemera and some others pointed out that skills development, which is the main reason for setting up such institutions, has had many setbacks in the past due to inter-ministerial conflicts.

"Let us know if these conflicts have been done away with and if we are not headed for another tug of war," he challenged.

Karemera and other Senators also pointed to the 'lack of proper policy direction' in as far as Public Private Partnerships (PPP) were concerned.

It turned out that the Senators, even though they largely agreed on the 'general significance' of the bill, did not entirely agree with the 'procedure' employed by the Ministers.

Most Senators initially called for the bill to be further reviewed before endorsement but the Ministers appealed, almost pleadingly for the lawmakers' approval of the very important legislation after labouring to clear the air on many questions.

Murekezi acknowledged the issue of past friction between their Ministries and stressed that they now compliment each other and no more conflict existed.

"The conflicts were there before but they are no more," Mutsindashyaka attested while labouring to erase the Senators' worries.

He also pointed out that as opposed to the earlier RWoDA bill, there were only four new changes [clauses] in the present one [WDA] which were amended and of no significant concern.

According to Mutsindashyaka, a new integrated education system will seriously address the country's lack of 'natural resources', and revamp the current poor structure of education, among others.

"The current system is pyramid-shaped and most of the people starting in primary don't reach the top," he said referring to the present education system as a "dead-end system."

Accordingly, the proposed integrated Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) framework will provide an answer to the country's education gaps, hence the need for the WDA.

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