Rwanda's newly elected speaker of parliament is coming under
intense criticism after she was accused of not having enough qualification and
ability to steer the country's parliament. The critics say Mukantabama
Rose's lack of credentials would allow President Paul Kagame's ruling party to
bulldoze its agenda through parliament. But the government says the allegations
are unfounded and sexist. All these followed Miss Mukantabama's election
Tuesday as speaker to lead the first ever female-majority parliament in the
Gasasira is the editor of the Umuvugizi independent newspaper in Rwanda. From
the capital, Kigali he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Rwandans are divided
over the election of Miss Mukantabama Rose as speaker of parliament.
"There are mixed reactions
after the speaker was elected, and some people feel that the majority of women
being in parliament is okay. But from the political point of view many are
criticizing the speaker for not being experienced enough and political
unknown," Gasasira pointed out.
He said some Rwandans are
skeptical about the new speaker's ability to handle the job.
"She has been working in
civil society in a non-governmental organization. Given that she has been
working there on a face value someone give her the benefit of the doubt whether
she would be capable of handling the job. But previous speakers of parliament
have not been politically strong and some have been characterized as puppets of
the ruling RPF (Rwanda Patriotic Front) party," he said.
On the other hand, Gasasira
said some Rwandans have expressed excitement over the election of the first
female speaker of parliament.
"Rwandans are happy after
this lady was elected given the fact that she would become the third most
powerful person in the country after President Paul Kagame, and the vice
president. Rwandans are also happy that women are dominating parliament, which
they welcome as a positive development. But some people are also skeptical that
the ruling party RPF would control this parliament like previous parliaments.
So, some people are saying there would be no difference in this current
parliament and previous ones," Gasasira pointed out.
He said there are
speculations that first deputy speaker Ambassador Benis Polisi might wield more
political powers than the speaker of parliament because he comes from the
"This is true given what the
last parliament experienced. He (Ambassador Polisi) was the deputy speaker of
the last parliament and has been very experienced and this makes him very
powerful in parliament. He was the former secretary general of the ruling party
just after the way and also served as the country's ambassador to Belgium.
Remember that the ruling party enjoys an overwhelming majority in parliament
gives him the chance to force the ruling party's agenda through parliament," he
Ms. Mukantabama Rose defeated Mukama Abbas, the only male contesting
for the same post with 70 votes to become the leader of Rwanda's Chamber of
Rwanda's established constitution adopted after a referendum held in
2003 guarantees 30 per cent quota of the 80 seats for women in the Chamber of
In last month's parliamentary election, an unprecedented 20 of the 53
seats went to women after the ruling RPF party endorsed 35 female candidates in
an inter-party coalition.