Posts tagged as: president

President Nkurunziza Ventures Out, Asks Refugees to Go Home

By Moses Havyarimana

President Pierre Nkurunziza on Thursday met with his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli in Ngara in northwestern Tanzania in his first ever trip outside Burundi since the failed May 2015 coup.

The Burundian leader was attending the East African Heads of State Summit in Dar es Salaam when a coup d’état was declared by General Godefroid Niyombare. The coup attempt was crushed in 24 hours, but in the ensuing political crisis, more than 500 people have been killed and 380,000 others displaced.

On Thursday, the two East African leaders met in a small town near their common border and held talks on bilateral issues, including security and refugees.

“We talked about the security situation, especially regarding those Burundians who fled to Tanzania,” President Nkurunziza said.

He asked the Burundians in Tanzanian refugee camps to return home, assuring them that there is peace and stability in Bujumbura.

President Nkurunziza noted that more than 150,000 Burundians had returned home “without the support of the United Nations.”

Citizenship

Tanzania’s Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba said that 200,000 Burundians had been given Tanzanian citizenship since 2006.

Mr Nchemba said Tanzania was hosting 247,000 Burundians in its refugee camps. He added that at least 5,000 of those in the camps had registered for the voluntary repatriation programme.

President Magufuli supported the programme, appealing to the Burundians to go home and build their country. Burundi has relatively gained stability after two years of violent clashes in Bujumbura and its environs.

President Nkurunziza’s Tanzanian visit came a few weeks after the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Michel Kafando ended two-week consultations with stakeholders in the Burundi talks.

Mr Kafando was appointed in May by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to lead and co-ordinate UN’s political efforts to promote peace and sustainable development in Burundi. He is working with the East African Community to promote dialogue among Burundian leaders.

Although grenade attacks in public places have been witnessed in recent months, claiming at least eight lives and injuring 70 people, the Burundi government says that the crime rate has gone down by 32 per cent in the past three months.

“The security situation has continued to improve, but we noted cases of grenade attacks and terrorist acts in some localities of Bujumbura,” said Public Security Minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni.

Illegal weapons

He said security agencies have conducted operations that have have netted 43 illegal weapons and 1,212 suspects.

Last week alone, police impounded more than 150 vehicles without legal documents which spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said were suspected to be used in criminal activities. The police have mounted roadblocks and checkpoints on the streets and major roads which they say have boosted security in the country.

The Burundi National Human Rights Council says rights abuses have decreased but several people have been disappeared.

Jakaya Kikwete’s Son, Two Others Win Gold in Genius Olympiad

Photo: The Citizen

3 students from Feza Boys Secondary School won this year’s Olympiad competition in the United States.

By Alfred Zacharia

Dar es Salaam — Wearing gold medals on their necks, three students from Feza International School, Rashidi Kikwete, Abdulrazack Mkamiya and Abdallah Rubeya landed the Julius Nyerere International Airport at about round 10pm.

They were in the US for a five-day competition, Genius Olympiad Competition, held from June 13 to 17. The contest brought together about 1,200 secondary students from more than 73 countries, 22 students from Feza Schools represented Tanzania.

Rashidi Kikwete, son of former President Jakaya Kikwete and Abdulrazack Mkamiya won gold medal in arts category while Abdalah Rubeya won a short film category.

“It is more than a dream comes true,” says the younger Kikwete. According to him, he was happy when heard for the first time that he would be among students who would travel to USA for the competition. For his part, Rubeya says winning the gold medal in the short film category wasn’t easy, for went through an education system that doesn’t give much attention to ext-ra-curricular activities. He admits he was nervous over the whole thing but he did not give up.”It was not a simple task to accomplish, you can imagine how difficult it was to win against 1200 competitors,” he said

He believes that there is nothing is easy to achieve, saying those who didn’t win in the competition should not give up. Among the parents at the airport was the Former First Lady Salma Kikwete, who said that the win proves that Tanzanians can also do wonders if given a chance. “As a former first lady of this nation and a mother, I am proud to witness these achievements because it proves that our efforts towards provision education are not in futile,” she said.

Tanzania

EAC Warned on U.S.’s Threat Over Used Clothes Ban

Two days after the US Trade Representative announced that Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda risk losing access to the American… Read more »

IMF Leader Touts for More Stable Tax Regime

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Deputy Managing Director, Tao Zhang has hailed Tanzania for managing to boost tax collection to finance infrastructure development but cautioned the country needs a more stable tax regime to remain an attractive investment destination.

The visiting IMF leader said it was vital to mobilise more private and public resources by strengthening tax collection but unpredictability of tax regime remained a challenge as the country strive to develop an industrial economy as envisaged in the second Five-Year Development Plan.

“So it is crucial to mobilise more private and public resources within Tanzania, especially by strengthening tax collection under a fair and predictable tax regime. This is an area where Tanzania has fallen behind its neighbours,” he said at a public lecture he gave in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

He described Tanzania as a strong performer in terms of economic growth and macroeconomic stability but argued the country needed to strengthen the role of private sector to sustain its impressive growth which has remained strong for over two decades.

He said the second Five-Year Development Plan would succeed if Tanzania would make optimal use of its comparative advantages, particularly the potential from agricultural and mining and possibilities of becoming a trading and logistic hub for East Africa.

Tanzania should also strengthen the business climate for local and foreign firms to attract investments, he said. The business community have been complaining of an unpredictable and complex taxation system which make doing business in Tanzania much harder and as a result discourage investment.

The government has restated its commitment to work on complaints from investors and business people of nuisance taxes ensure the country’s tax system does not stifle the private sector.

Touring industrial exhibitions at Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF) grounds in December last year, the Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Phillip Mpango had urged investors and the business community to forward to his ministry their tax recommendations so that they can be evaluated and incorporated into next year’s financial budget plans.

And speaking at a meeting with members of the private sector under the Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC) at State House in Dar es Salaam early this month, President John Magufuli said his government was ready to work with the private sector which he described as the engine of the economy.

The meeting washeld in the wake of reports of weakening investor confidence due to concerns about the economy, policy unpredictability and tax crackdown targeting big companies.

Magufuli dispelled sentiments that his government was “anti-business,” saying he was pro-business, but his administration would not tolerate tax dodging, which was rampant in Tanzania in previous years.

Tanzania

Capital Development Authority ‘Outlived Its Purpose’

Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Pius Msekwa has joined an array of patrons supporting dissolution of the… Read more »

Don’t Lecture Me On Kilifi Development, Kingi Tells Uhuru

By Kazungu Samuel

Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi has told President Uhuru Kenyatta to stop lecturing him on the Sh9 billion the county gets from the equitable share.

Instead, Mr Kingi said the President should tell Kilifi residents what he has done with the trillions of shillings given to national government annually.

Speaking at Ngerenya trading centre accompanied by Woman Representative Aisha Jumwa, the governor said he could name the projects he had initiated with the funds in the county but there was nothing to show from the national government.

“I have today inspected more than 10 projects in this Ward (Tezo) and many more projects we initiated since coming to power in 2013. We have implemented many projects in all the 35 wards in the county and that is what the Sh9 billion has done for us as Kilifi people,” he said.

The governor told Jubilee supporters in Kilifi that before poking holes on the county projects, they should first show the residents any projects that the national government initiated to benefit them.

“Whenever the President comes to Kilifi, he always talk of the Sh9 billion shillings that we get from the national government. At least we can show the people projects that we initiated with the funds.

“Before Jubilee supporters lament over county projects, they should first tell us what the trillions of money held at the treasury has done to improve on the lives of our people,” he said.

Ms Jumwa also asked the Jubilee administration to explain how 85 per cent of the funds that remain with the national government has benefited the locals.

“Only 15 per cent is given to the counties and still we can see projects initiated with the funds. Can the Jubilee government tell us what projects it has done with the funds instead of trying to lure people to join it,” she said.

The governor said it was for those failures that the residents should reject Jubilee and vote for Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) as the President on August 8.

He told the President to expect a bruising battle for the Kilifi votes which he said was sure will go to Raila’s ballot in August.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta did not get any votes in 2013 and a replica of the same is about to happen on August 8. He will get nothing because the people of Kilifi know their quest for change lies in Raila Odinga,” Mr Kingi said.

Kenya

Former President Kibaki’s Bodyguard Sues For 2002 Accident

A bodyguard involved in a road accident with former President Mwai Kibaki has alleged in a court case he was mistreated… Read more »

Heart Surgery Camp Targets 100 Children

Lions Club of Dar es Salaam (Host), in collaboration with Regency Medical Centre, is set for a Mega Cardiac Screening Camp for children born with surgically repairable heart defects and youth with acquired rheumatic valvular heart disease.

The camp will stretch from 23rd to 24th May 2017 at Regency Medical Centre and 25th to 26th at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Zanzibar, courtesy of Zanzibar’s Ministry of Health. According to Lion Dr Rajni Kanabar, who is District Chairperson of Lions Clubs International Multiple District 411B for Heart Project and Medical Camps, this camp will be conducted by local experts, including Dr Ashutosh Marwah, a paediatric cardiologist from Jaypee Hospital in New Delhi, India.

Dr Kanabar said 100 children who will need heart surgery will be selected for surgeries at highly subsidized rates which will be borne by the Lions Club of Dar es Salaam (Host).

“This is a special way of celebrating completion of 100 years of Humanitarian Services in Global Communities by Lions Clubs International, the largest Service Club in the world.It consists of more than 1.4 million members and 46,000 clubs spread out in more than 207 countries and geographical areas,” he said .

The President of the Lions Club of Dar es Salaam (Host), Lion Noreen Nathoo, said Tanzania Heart Babies Project 2017-2018, which has been in operation over the last three and a half decades, will be part of the highlights of the Lions Clubs International Centennial Anniversary Programme.

It embraces partners who include Lions Club of Dar es Salaam (Host) and Regency Medical Centre. Others who are playing a significant role in the noble mission include Lions club all over the world, donors, corporate firms and foundations.

Plus, hospitals in different parts of the world who can offer best subsidized rates or free surgeries. Lion Nathoo said over 3,000 children had been given a new lease of life, and stressed that efforts to raise funds for needlessly dying disadvantaged children and youth with heart problems would be sustained.

“We are also looking for a team of missionary experts to come to Jakaya Kikwete Heart Institute in Dar es Salaam where many surgeries can be done at highly subsidized costs, which will be borne by the Lions Club of Dar es Salaam (Host),” she added.

Tanzania

Increased Budget Allocation to Push Govt Industrial Drive

The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment has doubled development budget in the 2017/18 financial year, pushing the… Read more »

Presidential Candidate Vows to Soldier on Despite Nude Photo Scandal

Photo: Cyril Ndegeya/The East African

Diane Shima Rwigara addresses a press conference, announcing her candidature for the Rwanda presidency.

Ever since Diane Shima Rwigara came out to express her political views — and later declared her intention to run for president of Rwanda in the August 4 elections — the 35-year-old has attracted praise and criticism in equal measure.

One week after nude photographs — which she has disowned — were circulated on social media a day after she announced her presidential bid, Ms Rwigara says she will not be deterred: “I will not stop. I am going to continue with my preparations. The incident made me stronger, more resilient and determined to continue with this cause,” she told The EastAfrican.

The photographs were released through an email titled “the shameless acts of Diane Shima Rwigara who wants to contest for presidency”, with the sender adding “look at our presidential candidate”. The sender identified himself/herself as Emmy Twahirwa and claimed to be a journalist.

Robert Mugabe, a journalist who has reportedly been associated with Ms Rwigara, later stated on Facebook that the photos were doctored and were the work of her detractors.

Following that, Ms Rwigara took a few days off the public scene and later told The EastAfrican that the photographs were manipulated.

The incident elicited sympathy for the US-educated activist-turned politician, with many condemning the act of shaming her and others called for investigation.

Bold

No government agency has commented on the nudes scandal nor has any official come out to publicly condemn the sharing of the photos or denounce the presidential hopeful over her supposed “questionable integrity”.

But Ms Rwigara, who on Wednesday May 10 went to the National Electoral Commission to present the list of people who will sign for her and pick documents needed for the purpose, attracted wide coverage.

As an independent candidate, she must raise 600 signatures, at least 20 from each of the 30 districts. She believes that once she makes it to the ballot, she would make a good case and race against President Paul Kagame, who is widely expected to win the August 4 polls with a landslide.

More on This

Nude Photo Leak Shock for Rwanda’s Woman Presidential Candidate


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Meet Rwanda’s First Female Independent Presidential Candidate

First Female Independent Candidate Joins Race for PresidencyActivism and Rwanda’s Development Model – Diane Rwigara Takes a Stand

Ms Rwigara, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance from the California State University, Sacramento and a master’s degree in accounting from California State University, San Francisco, has surprised many with her boldness.On February 23, she held a press conference where she described herself as a “concerned Rwandan and activist” but denied intending to engage in politics. She highlighted several issues the country was facing that she said needed to be addressed urgently. Among these, she said, were the growing levels of poverty and hunger, which she said the government did not want to recognise, let alone address.”I am neither a politician nor a member of any political party,” Ms Rwigara told The EastAfrican shortly after the press conference, adding that she decided to speak out about the issues “because no one else appeared willing to speak about them.”On May 3, she called another press conference, during which she announced her intention to pit candidature against President Kagame.No freedom of press“The reason I am contesting is because our country has a stained past. The RPF government has achieved a number of things, attempted to deliver on others but completely failed on several aspects. Rwandans still face many challenges including poverty, hunger and injustices in all sections of the society,” she said.Ms Rwigara also said there was no freedom of press and expression in Rwanda, pointing out that none of the media were critical while those who tried to criticise the government often ended up in trouble, pointing out that she was ready to raise those concerns on behalf of the people.”We have cases of insecurity as people disappear without trace, some are killed while others flee the country. Most Rwandans know these but won’t speak out because of fear,” she said.Indeed, her move caught many off-guard, in a country where many people prefer silence rather than point out issues affecting them. A lot of talk followed her press conference, with many wondering where she got the guts to run for the country’s highest office.Several other prospective candidates have announced similar intentions for the top job in Rwanda, among them Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, former journalist Philippe Mpayimana and Gilbert Mwenedata, who will contest as independent candidates.InjusticesThe daughter of Assinapol Rwigara, a prominent businessman and RPF member, who died in February 2015 in an accident, Ms Rwigara maintains that her political ambitions were her personal decision and should not be in any way connected to her family.The embattled family has been in the limelight since the passing on of the tycoon after it contested the police version of the circumstances under which Mr Rwigara died. They went as far as petitioning President Kagame to call for an inquiry into the death.Since then, the family found itself in trouble when Kigali city authorities demolished a hotel of the deceased businessman because “it did not have the necessary permits”. Several of Mr Rwigara’s properties were also repossessed by the City of Kigali administration.Ms Rwigara maintains that she is not driven by anger or disgruntled by events surrounding her family, but says the manner in which her father died are some of the injustices she is willing to fight to correct.Her bid has not been helped by support from ‘renowned enemies’ of Kigali, including members of the Rwanda National Congress, an exiled group which Rwanda refers to as a criminal organisation, and of which one of her exiled uncles Benjamin Rutabana is a member.Ms Rwigara denies being a member of the group or any other political party, existing inside or outside the country.

Jinja Stuck With Shs 1.3bn Street Lights Bill

Jinja municipality is stuck with an accumulated power bill worth Shs 1.3 billion.

Rajab Kitto, the spokesman, Jinja municipality, says the bill has been accumulating over the last five years.

Local authorities are mandated to clear power bills using collections from local revenue. He says the failure to clear the power bill, prompted Umeme to disconnect street lights plunging the municipality into total darkness.

According to Kitto, they are unable to raise sufficient local revenue to clear the bill.

“Of course you are aware that Umeme cut off its power and demands us a lot of money, which is about 1.3 billion. Unless people pay, there is no way we are going to pay that money. We are not in position to pay”, he said.

Majid Batambuze, the mayor Jinja municipality and chairperson Urban Authorities Association, says municipalities unable to sustain street lighting because of the heavy power bills. He wants government to direct power suppliers to incur the cost of streetlights across the country.

“These urban councils collect less revenue and yet they have a lot of other costs to meet. Street lighting is a very expensive venture. If the government can direct the power suppliers to incur the cost of the street lighting before being contracted, then the problem would be solved,” he said.

He however, says most urban council leaders are opting from solar powered streetlights, which don’t have monthly bills.

Uganda

Are Police Harbouring Criminal Syndicate Within the Force?

Some weeks ago, President Museveni made a candid statement about the police, which I believe most Ugandans applauded.… Read more »

Genocide – Dutch Court Remands Fugitive Until June 15

By Felly Kimenyi

A Rwandan arrested in Denmark earlier this week over an outstanding arrest warrant pertaining to his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi has been remanded by a Danish court until June 15, according to media reports.

The suspect, whom witness accounts and other sources corroborate to be a one Wenceslas Twagirayezu, was pinned by prosecution for having played a role in the killings in western Rwanda.

Appearing before court that was chaired by Judge Jens Berg, prosecution charged him with masterminding massacres in a church and a university, where thousands of Tutsi were killed.

Specifically, a Danish prosecutor said the accused was part of a gang of 200 that attacked a university where over 1,000 people – mainly students, lecturers and other staff – were killed.

Our independent investigations conducted through interviews with Genocide survivors from the area established that one of the attacks in which Twagirayezu was among the ringleaders was carried out at Mudende University in the present Rubavu District.

The church referred to during the hearing is believed to be Busasamana Catholic Parish, where more than 3,000 Tutsi had sought refuge and most of whom were killed by militiamen led by the suspect.

After listening to the charges against Twagirayezu, who is said to work with an IT company in the capital Copenhagen, Judge Berg ruled to remand him so that he does not tamper with evidence or even flee the country for fear of being prosecuted.

About the suspect

Twagirayezu was naturalised as a Danish citizen in 2004, having arrived in the Nordic country in 2001.

It is said that Twagirayezu, who apparently runs an organisation in Denmark called Dutabarane Foundation, was a teacher at Majambere Primary School in Busasamana Sector of the present Rubavu District.

“He was well known in the former communes of Rubavu, Mutura and Rwerere. He openly carried a gun,” said a source who preferred to remain anonymous.

According to prosecution, the suspect was also the president of the extremist party, CDR, in the former Gacurabwenge Sector also in the current Rubavu District, and was a known militia leader in the area during the Genocide against the Tutsi.

CDR was composed of the most virulent members of the extremist political outfits that played a role in the Genocide.

The Danish prosecution is likely to request that the suspect be extradited to Rwanda for trial after a precedent that was set in 2014 when the country extradited Emmanuel Mbarushimana.

Mbarushimana, a former inspector of schools, is currently on trial at the specialised chamber for international crimes at High Court.

Rwanda

Govt Expects Over 12000 Returnees By July 2018

At least12,000 Rwandans who still live in foreign countries as refugees could return home between July and June next… Read more »

Meet A Photographer Who Captured Kenya’s Memories

Photo: William Ruthi/The Nation

Photographer Mark Mwangi.

By William Ruthi

For nearly three decades, Mark Mwangi was well-known in most villages south of Othaya Town in Nyeri County. Every Sunday after church, Mwangi would pick up his trusted Konica Minolta camera, sling it over his shoulder and go to work. He would be in a tie and shirt sleeves because image mattered.

He would walk fast up the ridges and back trails, appearing at the agreed hour to find a family dressed in their Sunday best waiting to be committed to film.

As he prepared to take the shot Mwangi would count, “Now, one and two, and three.” The camera flashed at the click of a button and that was it. No second take; the magazine chamber allowed just one take.

“Let’s see,” Mwangi would tell the anxious subjects as he checked the remaining film on the camera. “A week, maybe two.”

In contast, today anyone with even a most basic cell phone can take photographs, and one can process hundreds of photos in a day.

There was a time when a photographer was next in importance only to the village shopkeeper and priest. With his credit notebook, the shopkeeper allowed cash-strapped families to get by until pay day. Meanwhile, the man of God provided spiritual nourishment, and when death struck, presided over funerals. For his part the photographer immortalised the cycle of life, recording births, baptisms, graduations, weddings and funerals.

BOLD MOVE

That Mwangi chose photography, a vocation considered marginal compared with other well-ordered careers such as teaching was a bold and unprecedented move. One didn’t go to school to learn how to unwind film and parade people in a line. But Mwangi had a sense of what the future held.

“I was adamant that I wanted to study photography,” he says with a laugh.

So he packed his bag and bought a bus ticket to begin studies at a photography school in Limuru, Kiambu County. During the course — in the early ’60s — Mwangi got to understand the pull of brand. “It was all about being a professional in how I went about my business,” he says. He returned with a certificate and burning zeal, and opened a photo studio in Othaya Town.

Mwangi used his charm to win over customers and entered their postal contacts in his notebook when they showed up at his shop or when they sent word for him, and the fledgling business thrived. As his fame grew, Mwangi stood before such prominent people as then Vice President Mwai Kibaki when he attended fundraisers in the eighties. Mwangi also printed his name and postal address below every photograph. Then, in the seventies, he adopted the business name Inoi.

“Every now and then people come to me and tell me about their childhood pictures I took years ago. It is good that I was there,” he says. “It is about a legacy. I feel fulfilled that they still hold these memories.”

BYGONE ERA

We are standing outside Snowline Studio, a tiny room painted in Kodak yellow, where Inoi is waiting for some photos to be printed. Once a vibrant photo studio, Snowline is now a relic of a bygone era. For more than a half century, Kodak was the first and last word in photography. But the people at Kodak did not see the revolution in the horizon, which came and swept the cumbersome film roll out of the picture and replaced it with a tiny memory card. Gone was the two-week wait for photos to be printed at the studio. The choice was clear: adapt or perish.

Inoi accepted the new reality and retired his faithful Minolta for a Sony camera. He also landscaped a portion of his sloping farm in Thuti village at the foot of Karima Hill in Othaya into a scenic photo-shoot ground. “Wedding parties need not travel to Nyeri town, they come here,” Inoi says.

Inoi’s bailiwick lives on in countless homes. Framed copies tracing life’s milestones hang on many walls in local homes. Others feature in photo albums.

But even that is slowly being going out of the picture, another casualty of our impatience, and of course, technology. When it was still vogue, the camera film roll was housed in small plastic canisters, which would be thrown out once the film had been taken out. The few remaining in Kenyan homes are used to store buttons and trinkets, and even tobacco snuff.

But even with technology, there is one place where Mwangi is still highly valued: the school ground. Most Sundays after church, Inoi, now in his early seventies, takes his camera and heads off to work. Today, he will be at Othaya Girls’ Secondary School, about four kilometres outside Othaya town.

The girls are waiting impatiently, just like the past generations did. If he looks hard enough, Inoi might pick out one or two girls whose mothers he photographs. Inoi sets them in frame, nudging them to move here, the tall girl to stand, the others may sit.

“Mr Inoi,” glows Maggie Wanderi, a former student of Othaya Girls’ School. “We looked forward to his photo sessions!”

All across the land the photo studio is slowly dying. Some of the most prominent ones, like Ramogi Studio in Nairobi, closed shop.

“It was a great time,” Inoi says of the old days. “There weren’t many of us. “But now, well…. “

What We Need to Address the Plight of Midwives

Photo: Dennis Agaba/The New Times

Nurse Esperance Mujawamariya takes care of her patient.

analysisBy Sharon Kantengwa

Stories about midwives usually invoke bad memories for many that have been in the labour ward. But there is also another side of midwives that we rarely get to know. It is a story that brings a smile on expecting mothers. Take for example, the story of Ruth, a mother of one and marketing executive in Kigali.

“The midwife who attended to me was kind and always had a smile on her face every time she entered the delivery room. Being a first time mum, I was worried because of the many horrifying stories I’d heard about midwives. This lady was nothing like that,” says the 31-year-old who requested to be referred to as just Ruth.

The humility and love with which the midwife handled Ruth is a contrast of the beliefs and perceptions about midwives, generally.

Josette Umucyo is a midwife at Muhima District Hospital, and is in charge of the labour ward. With nine years of experience, she has lost count of the number of deliveries conducted. Despite her hands-on experience, helping a woman to deliver is always a lifesaving moment for her and her team that requires them to give their all.

“We take the delivery process as a moment between life and death. Even though it is a joint effort with the mother, we have a bigger hand in this. That is why I put all my mind and energy into it, to ensure that the delivery is successful,” she says.

The plight of the unsung heroes

Despite this life saving role, the work of midwives is sometimes not made any easier.

As Umucyo ushers me into her office, we pass through the labour ward where I catch a glimpse of women waiting for their turn to deliver their babies. Some are all by themselves,calling out in agony because of the painful contractions.

“It’s natural for women to get labour pains but we assist them and teach them ways to reduce the pain and control the anxiety that they may have. We show them how to remain comfortable during those contractions,” Umucyo explains to me.

I did not see any men in the ward and when I inquire why the men aren’t present, Umucyo says, “Sometimes, the men want to experience the moment but they are not given the opportunity because of the limited space in the ward.”

In one of the rooms, four women are waiting to deliver. The midwives who have already conducted nine deliveries have to attend to these too.

The hospital has an estimated 25 deliveries a day, with each shift having only five midwives to attend to all the cases.

“We have only 20 midwives in the labour ward in this hospital and we conduct around 25 deliveries each day,which means that we are supposed to be 70 according to the number of deliveries we conduct each day. Professionally, two midwives are supposed to attend to one mother,” Umucyo says.

Josephine Murekezi, the president of the Rwanda Association of Midwives, says that this poses a threat to the mothers because a midwife is supposed to help the mother from the time of her first antenatal visit to when she gives birth, which does not happen because of the limited number of midwives.

Shortage of midwives?

Andre Gitembagara, the president of the Rwanda Nurses and Midwives Union, reveals that from the required 4,000 midwives, only 1,700 are registered with the council of nurses and midwives and are licensed to practice. Even with the limited number, not all the licensed midwives are in practice.

“We need more midwives, especially in health centres because that is the first point of contact for the mothers. Many of them are in referral, provincial and a few in district hospitals, yet we have 461 health centres,” he says.

Because of the limited number, he further reveals that most of those assisting in deliveries are not actually qualified midwives.

“In many health centres, especially rural areas, we have nurses who will deliver one or two mothers and yet they have to attend to other patients, and that is a big workload. This is why sometimes the A2 nurses (associate nurses) come in to help, yet they are not fully trained,” he says.

Gitembagara adds, “We also have a shortage of nurses yet they also assist the midwives. Some have since joined other business ventures while others are in other educational domains perhaps because of the working conditions. The number of those in practice is pint-sized compared to what we need.”

Murekezi blames this on the little motivation for the midwives in terms of salary and workload.

“This is a profession where we get the same salary, regardless of the experience. There is no promotion yet it is a tiring job,” she says.

She notes that it is a big challenge and a daunting situation especially when the community health workers mobilise expectant mothers to deliver in the hospital and there are not enough midwives there to attend to them,” she says.

What keeps them going?

Despite the challenge, the few that the country has still cling on to their roles and seem passionate about their work. But what keeps them going to serve with a smile?

“I always try my best to focus on the mother and ensure that I help save her life. When I have successful deliveries, I congratulate myself. If my motivation was derived from the salary that I receive, I wouldn’t be here,” Umucyo says.

“I meet a number of mothers regularly who show me the babies I helped them deliver and it gives me joy and a sense of fulfilment. That is my salary,” Umucyo explains.

“When midwives assist in giving birth to a baby successfully, they are happy. This is what motivates us. The ethics we teach also make the midwives passionate. But it becomes worse when they have done something wrong because it is not expected of them,” Murekezi explains.

Prima Uwase, a mother of two, reveals that she has always dreaded delivering her babies from public hospitals because of the ‘unfriendly’ nature some people presume the midwives have.

She prefers having her deliveries done in private hospitals where she is assured of complete attention.

For Umucyo, this is no surprise to her because this should be expected of in the health centres.

“Midwives are said to be rude which is true in some cases. However, due to our overwhelming work we cannot perform to our best capability. We are most times required to alternate our roles to the most vital and urgent ones,” she says.

What needs to be done to solve the problem?

Gitembagara reveals that the country has eight training schools for midwives, which are enough, but the problem lies in retaining them to keep in practice.

As such, he explains that more favourable incentives should be provided to the midwives, especially those working in rural areas.

“The government is doing what needs to be done because we have had progress over the years. However, it should give continuous professional education to those who are already in service as we train the new ones,” Murekezi says.

She explains that the association helps in giving continuous professional development by teaching midwives more professional ways of helping the mother and the new born. It also unites them under cooperatives to save.

While some countries train ‘nurse-midwives’, Gitembagara says that Rwanda plans to adapt to this kind of training in 2020.

“We are harmonising the East African training and we need to train a holistic nurse-midwife where a graduate can be able to provide both nursing and midwifery services.

“This, however, is a long term solution. The mid-term solution is to increase the number of midwives in each health centre with the average deliveries per health centre in mind,” he says.

What it takes to be a midwife

“It just requires the will and the qualification,” Murekezi says.

“We take on those who have passed with two principle passes in Biology and Chemistry in their senior six exams.

“The first year of study in midwifery involves anatomy and physiology combined as a must, and thereafter, they can go for midwifery classes.”

Why should midwives be celebrated?

Every new mother needs at least one person to help her and the baby, to provide proper care for the newborn and also help the mother with day-to-day activities during the days right after birth. Midwives have taken training and acquired the skills to efficiently look after the baby and therefore deserve to be celebrated.

Rebekah Talitha, pharmacist

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My first experience was okay with many of the midwives being good to me, assisting me right from antenatal with a few others making some unpleasant remarks about my delivery. All the same, I’m glad they came to my rescue in those tough times.

Blessing Kyshe, businesswoman

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The delivery of a baby happens in a space of time where the mother’s life is at stake. The midwives are responsible for this procedure and because they save lives, they should be celebrated. Their profession will be an inspiration to many.

Doreen Umutesi, online marketer

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In as much as these midwives derive their joy from saving the new born baby and the mother, they deal with the anxiety of mothers and give tough love where necessary. With their tiring work, I feel they are not being acknowledged enough. Simple gratitude from the parents and the government can motivate them.

Rita Mbabazi, businesswoman

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