The National Dialogue Council known as Umushyikirano is one of Rwanda’s Homegrown Initiatives. The word Umushyikirano translates to a meeting where participants are able to exchange ideas, share experiences, and question each other.
The word Umushyikirano translates to a meeting in which participants are able to exchange ideas, share experiences and ask questions of one another. Today, it is known as the National Dialogue Council and is constitutionally mandated. It is a forum in which participants debate issues relating to the state of the nation, the state of local governance, and national unity.
Every year, the President of the Republic of Rwanda chairs Umushyikirano, during which Rwandans from all walks of life have the opportunity to ask questions directly to their leaders. The event is attended by members of the Cabinet and Parliament, representatives of the Rwandan community abroad, local government, media entities, the diplomatic community, and others invited by the President. Those unable to attend in person at Rwanda’s parliament building can do so via telephone, SMS, Twitter, and Facebook or can follow the debate live through television and radio coverage of the event.
The first National Dialogue Council took place on 28 June 2003; the event has been held each year ever since. Umushyikirano aims to be a leading example of participatory and inclusive governance. It is hoped that by directly engaging with their leaders, Rwandans feel part of the decision-making that affects their lives. Umushyikirano also serves as a forum for Rwandans to hold their leaders and government to account.
Over the past 15 years, Umushyikirano has proposed transformational ideas, and made important contributions to nation-building; examples include Umwalimu SACCO (the savings and credit cooperative for teachers), Abunzi (the mediation committees) and Girinka (the One cow per poor family program).
The Office of the Prime Minister (PMO) is responsible for the overall coordination of Umushyikirano.