Don't mind about critics, parliament is independent

Sunday March 12 2023
Mukabalisa pic

Donatile Mukabalisa, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies during an interview. Picture Ange Iliza

By Ange Iliza

As the speaker of the lower chamber of parliament for the past 10 years, can you reflect on what you consider the parliament's greatest achievement during this time?

The parliament bears significant responsibility, not only for creating laws but also for monitoring the government’s performance, and Rwanda's achievements so far are a testament to this responsibility.

Several laws, including the 2016 reformed family law, have had a profound impact on Rwandan families, and I take pride in their passage. Moreover, I am pleased with how the parliament has made progress in advocating for the people by becoming more decentralised.

We now work closely with citizens, enabling us to tailor our efforts to their specific needs. We collaborate with advocacy groups and NGOs by considering their reports, ideas and inputs.

If Rwanda decides to merge the parliamentary and presidential elections, you will have an extra year in office. What will you do with it?

We have yet to receive confirmation on a decision, but if it is approved, we will proceed with our usual tasks, which mainly involve overseeing the performance of government bodies.


This is of great importance as we strive to improve accountability by continuously monitoring institutions instead of solely responding to auditor general reports or waiting until the completion of terms or projects to respond.

How do you respond to criticism that Rwanda’s parliament is a rubber stamp executive decision?

The lower chamber is continuously striving to enhance our performance, but some critics may not fully comprehend our approach. Our responsibilities extend beyond law-making to also overseeing the execution of duties by public institutions.

It is worth noting that Rwanda's remarkable progress can be attributed, in part, to the parliament's efforts.

Do you find it problematic when bills are rejected by deputies on grounds of religion and cultural norms?

This is not a problem. As per the legal provisions, members of the lower chamber have the authority to reject bills for any reason, provided the majority agrees. According to the law-making procedures, if a bill is rejected, the presenter can revise and clarify it to convince the chamber to pass it during the subsequent presentation.

The only concern would arise if the legal procedure was not correctly followed.

In the next parliamentary elections, if your party asks you to represent it in the parliament again, will you agree?

I cannot comment on that, it is still too early to decide.