The New Times (Kigali)
8 September 2008
Posted to the web 8 September 2008
The Social Democratic Party (PSD) was formed in 1991 and is currently headed by Senate President, Vincent Biruta. Its main objective is to promote justice, freedom and development.
The PSD will in next weeks national elections stand against; the RPF - Rwanda Patriotic Front/ Inkotanyi and the PL -Liberty Party.
In Rwanda like in other countries, each political party has its own symbol or emblem and regalia that sets it apart from other parties. Each symbol is chosen as a fulfilment of the party's goals and ideals.
Colours, objects or animals and the direction the symbol faces all play a vital role in demonstrating what the political party stands for.
It is in this context that the PSD has three colours on its flag- blue, white and green. The blue symbolizes transparency, white stands for the peace that Rwandans must always strive for, with green showing the Rwandan need for unity and development.
Historically, the PSD operated during the despotic times of Habyalimana, where it suffered the wrath of his party MRND's policies.
Since it was then a young party, working under the environment of a despotic regime, it had a small but important impact in the social order.
"PSD is a party that has done a lot for this country, we challenge the dictatorial regime of Habyalimana and we were involved in the struggle to liberate the country," explains Rwamukwaya Athanase, party secretary of the treasury in the Rwamagana district.
In its efforts to survive Habyalimana's regime onslaught the PSD formed a youth group, which fought off attacks from the MRND/MDR militias.
"In those days of the survival for the fittest, PSD youth wing known as Abakombozi, did a commendable job. We did not only fight the Interahamwe, but also organized football matches with RPF youth; as peace talks went on, to show our commitment to peace.
This is the way we portray our love for peace," said Jean Baptiste Gasana, PSD coordinator- Eastern Region.
Today the PSD is determined to take majority parliamentarian seats come next weeks elections. They have taken their campaign all over the country armed with the message to; promote unity, social, political and economic development.
"We intend to implement the Green Revolution we have been talking about. You see the people of Rwanda have to start using modern methods of farming, if we are to realize sustainable development. Dry areas must plant more trees to attract rain, but in the mean time people have to start using irrigation. Water can be sourced from the nearby lakes and rivers or stored during the rainy season, so that there is constant availability of it for our farmers," Gasana observed.
Another bold step by Rwandans in this particular election has been the ability of political party leaders now debate issues of national interest maturely and wisely.
A break from the past where ethnicity for instance was often used as a campaign tool. Of course, not all is rosy, some still have the ideology in their minds, but the fact that it stays in their hearts and minds, means a lot to our future generations.
Their respect for the new political value system is important in the new Rwanda we are building.
"Rwanda's political line is clear. We no longer have the mentality of the past. What is important is uniting our people and allowing them chance to match the rest of the world in development", remarks Juvenal Nkusi, PSD's number three.
Juvenal Nkusi, a one-time speaker of parliament, post-genocide, was however quick to criticize those who are frustrating the exercise: "There are some people who are still behind what the government and the people of Rwanda are doing. It could be sheer naivety or deliberate, but it is unfortunate.
Nkusi further observes that: "There is also another problem concerning people's understanding. You do not for instance need to be a PSD supporter to attend its meeting. These meetings teach a lot, people should attend and take lessons without necessarily joining the party."
Rwanda is still haunted by her history in one way or other. Making the building of a strong functionary democracy as in other parts of the world a long process. It is a kind of socio-political metamorphosis, which has to be completed before the 'butterfly flies'.
What is important for Rwanda's future is a source of great promise is that political parties and their members understand the line the country is taking.
As we develop and debate our electoral rules and standards it is important that these are home grown, based on our collective desire to built credible functioning systems. Some for instance still question why candidates campaign under the umbrella of political parties, they prefer to have independent candidates.
A given country takes its own approach, while embracing democracy and elections. Furthermore, the system is not only exercised in Rwanda, some old democracies in Europe have it.
"Elections are held according to the choice of a particular country and Rwanda chose it that way. Countries like Belgium, France, etc, actually use the same system like ours.
Therefore, those who criticize the system we are using are only exposing their ignorance. What if I contested on my own and won with 80%, I would have my own land to control in the country. We do not need to create federalism (laughs)", Nkusi concluded.
PSD like other political parties says it is working under a conducive political environment, as it moves its campaigns from one part of the country to another. Local and international observers, are spread out are observing the whole process countrywide.
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