BUJUMBURA January 2nd (ABP) – The President of the Republic of Burundi, Mr. Pierre Nkurunziza, delivered a message to his compatriots and friends of Burundi on Monday, December 31, 2018, in order to present them the best wishes for good health, happiness, security, justice, prosperity and divine blessings for the year 2019.
He then expressed the wish and said: “May this year be for all of us a year of deeper meditation on our country, a year of solidarity, a year of consolidation of unity and a year of awakening consciousness”. It is very pleasant to spend an entire year in peace, security and tranquility in all corners of Burundi. We address our heartfelt thanks to the defense and security forces and other institutions of the country that never cease to sacrifice day and night, for Burundi to live in peace and dignity. We cannot ignore the Burundian citizens and especially the joint security committees. Once again, we would like to express our gratitude to the countries and international organizations that support us in the various policies and projects, and that especially help us to convince those who still doubt and those who have taken a dead end because of rumors, lies and stories assembled from scratch that are concocted and spread by the enemies of Burundi.
The year that has ended has been very fruitful. The seasons have been good, and this has allowed the increase of production in all sectors of national life. The guiding theme that has guided us for two years, “Let’s meditate deeply on our country to understand where we come from and where we are going”, guided our steps towards success. We will continue to inspire it throughout this New Year. Our joy in this end of year and New Year period is justified in several sources: what we realized, what we saw with our own eyes, what we heard, without forgetting to mention the signs which show that the future is very promising. Allow us to tell you some facts including: the good ideas expressed by Burundian citizens that resulted in a Constitution that strengthens national sovereignty, dignity and the promotion of the higher interests of the nation; a Constitution that puts Burundi back into the hands of God as was the case before the arrival of the colonizers.
We categorically refused to return to a dictatorial regime, and we consolidated our country’s independence and democratic governance, with the Burundians organizing the constitutional referendum themselves without seeking foreign assistance in terms of experts as well as material and financial means. We have kept peace and security throughout the country, Burundians and foreigners living in this country have lived in peace; while most of our brothers and sisters who had taken refuge outside the country returned to their homeland. We have shown to those who continue to doubt that divisive trends no longer grow on our soil; we have turned a deaf ear to some Burundians and foreigners who always want to give the place to the conflicts among us and divide us into antagonistic groups in order to plunge us back into the chaos that the colonizers and the traitors who were allied with them had left behind. Through the patriotic and civic education program, we helped Burundians distinguish wheat from tares, to know the secrets and history of our country and made them aware of leaving behind a dignified legacy. We will continue this program for the good of Burundians, both for those who live today and for future generations. We continued to raise funds and other material resources for the organization of the 2020 elections, and many Burundian citizens responded to this initiative with joy and without constraint. We thank you for responding to the appeal we have made to organize the elections ourselves without strangers’ interference.
We have drawn up ourselves the Burundi National Development Plan (PND Burundi) 2018-2027 which will serve as a basis and framework for the planning of other development projects. We had a good food harvest and decided to save it and share the surplus with our brothers and sisters who are in need. We protected the national heritage, especially minerals and industrial crops. This is a new beginning that will lead us to true independence, political autonomy through economic independence. We initiated a local solidarity program and we instituted by Presidential Decree a day dedicated to this good action. We call on Burundians to strengthen the culture of national and local solidarity for it to be rather a tradition. We continued to contribute to the maintenance of world peace and the fight against terrorism. We will continue to proclaim loud and clear that we owe above all what has been done to Almighty God. We owe it then to the security that has been kept by the Burundian people, the defense and security forces and the National Intelligence Service.
Let us talk briefly about the achievements of the 2018 year; the details will be given to you over the days by the Ministers. In the security sector, the year that has ended has been characterized by a largely satisfactory security throughout the national territory. But not everything is good, there was an armed gang that killed 26 people and wounded 7 others in Ruhagarika, Buganda commune in Cibitoke province. Some of those criminals have been brought to justice. Those who committed those crimes acknowledged that everything had been prepared in Rwanda, that those who sent them are in Rwanda and that they came from Rwanda. There was also the case of banditry with firearms; murders committed largely following land disputes and witchcraft; persons who produce, market or consume narcotic drugs and prohibited beverages. The perpetrators of all those crimes were each time apprehended and punished in accordance with the law. This prompted searches in several parts of the country, resulting in the seizure of 123 rifles, 16095 bullets, 127 magazines, 446 grenades, 27 bombs, 8 mines and other military and police items. Many liters of illegal drinks were seized and dumped.
In the political sphere, a dialogue between the government and the legally recognized political parties was organized and they agreed on a roadmap leading to the 2020 elections. We welcomed 58262 voluntary returnees returning from Tanzania, Congo, Kenya, Uganda and Gabon, as well as 200,000 returnees returning without assistance from the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees. We cannot forget to mention the 30000 Burundians who were expelled by the Rwandan government and were separated from their spouses and their offspring after being stripped of all their goods. The other great accomplishment of the year was the eradication of the disorder that prevailed in the international and local non-governmental organizations operating in Burundi with a view to encouraging them to work legally and in accordance with Burundian law. As security can only prevail where true justice prevails, 33,500 trials have been adjudicated in the framework of strengthening justice for all, while 1,500 vulnerable people have benefited from the free assistance of lawyers. To enable citizens to easily access the courts, courts of appeal and their general courts were created in Makamba and in the Ntahangwa and Muha communes of the Bujumbura City Council. Regarding the defense of the State interests, 6 billion Burundian francs were credited in the State checkout through trials won by the Ministry of Justice. Through the Administrative Court and the Special Court of Lands and other Goods, around 4707 hectares of State land that had been plundered by individuals, and whose cost is estimated at 280 billion Burundian francs, were recovered. In order to promote a criminal justice system that respects human rights, sentences of approximately 2750 prisoners have been extended by presidential decree, while the sentences of 1300 others have been reduced.
We have emphasized the increase in production, that more than 50000 tons of chemical fertilizers have been distributed as well as 10000 tons of dolomite. In addition, we sensitized the people to the practice of irrigated agriculture during the dry season, and this has meant that agricultural production is increasing in all the provinces of Burundi, and that the prices of the foodstuffs are decreasing. We take this opportunity to commend the works worth 18 billion accomplished by students during the summer holidays. Efforts towards herd rebuilding have been made. More than 1500 cows, around 5000 goats, and more than 1500 pigs were distributed, as more than 3000000 sheep and goats were vaccinated against the plague. Sensitization and enhancement activities for export crops such as coffee and tea were undertaken, resulting in a significant increase in production compared to 2017.
In the the economy sector, revenues continue to increase from one year to the next. The Burundi Revenue Authority (OBR), whose annual forecast was 789 billion Burundian francs, actually collected about 900 billion Burundian Francs. This represents a surplus of more than 11% compared to 2017. It is these funds that make it possible to carry out major national projects in all sectors, to pay civil servants and to finance social measures aimed at improving living conditions of Burundians so that they can easily get treatment, produce more, educate their children, subsidize transportation, and so on.
In terms of major projects, paved roads that facilitate the movement of people and goods in the town of Gitega, the traffic lights that regulate traffic in the Bujumbura city were respectively built and installed, while the Bujumbura-Nyamitanga road is in the final phase. During this year, the construction works of the Kibumbu-Gitega, Bujumbura-Gatumba, Bururi-Gakuba, Nyanza-Lac-Rumonge and Rumonge-Gitaza roads will start. Alongside these roads, the Bujumbura Port will be repaired and expanded.
We invite all citizens to increase their vigilance to oversee the management of public affairs and ensure public infrastructures. We also ask that the National Strategy for Good Governance and the Fight against Corruption, 2nd Generation, which is being prepared, should be finalized in order to have clear laws that are adapted to the current situation. While waiting for the finalization of this national strategy, we are asking anyone who have stolen, in any way, to return any ill-gotten gains to the country. We call on all institutions entrusted with the protection of national wealth to punish the perpetrators of embezzlement and public property more rigorously. We urge that the final report on the distribution of State vehicles under the new Zero Transport Policy be submitted, and this in the first quarter of 2019.
During this year that we are starting, we will continue the national programs from the stage where we are, and thus advance our national project. We will continue to build peace and security within and on the borders of the country, with a view to ensuring the independence and sovereignty of Burundi. The preparatory works for the 2020 elections, with regard to the collection of funds and the search for material means, will continue. We will rethink the program of community development works and multiply public infrastructures: schools, health centers, hospitals, markets, villages, playgrounds, drinking water sources, contour lines and rural tracks. We will focus on cleanliness, building homes for vulnerable, to name but a few. The free health care program for children under 5, pregnant mothers and mothers giving birth in public health facilities will continue. To cope with climate change, we will continue to protect the environment through the “EWE BURUNDI URAMBAYE” program. We will continue to build hydroelectric plants and distribute drinking water across the country. We will continue to maintain excellent relations with other States by privileging true friends and the principle of understanding and mutual respect. We will continue to protect collective natural resources, especially ores and industrial export crops. We will continue to make decisions on respect for human rights, enforce the law and punish offenders. We are going to deal seriously with the problem of rampant demography. To this fact, we are asking the Ministry in charge of Spatial Planning to put an end to the works of subdivision of residential plots in the Bujumbura City and its surroundings. We will work with companies that have proven means and expertise to build decent housing that will be rented. We will have found in this way the solution to the problem of scarcity of houses and plots. We will protect the customs and mores of Burundians with the utmost energy and we will reject the teachings, language, attitudes and behaviors that taint the culture and morality of the Burundian people. The household registration process under the Persons and Family Code is 90% with the exception of Rumonge province. We hope that by the end of 2019, all children living in Burundi will know their true fathers and not those to whom they are connected because, even when the child is an orphan, he/she is always the fruit of the union of two parents. We will build the capacity of the Defense and Security Forces, and provide them with adequate equipment and materials to cope with any difficulties in the best conditions. We will continue the program of moralization of society and meditation on our country to help Burundians to know the truth and to behave as intelligent people. From the year 2019, every administrative official will have to show, in their sector, the effects of the measures taken in favor of the people in the present and in the future. This is the best way to raise awareness about our country and the love of the homeland in the national life and Burundian citizens, especially the administrative officials.
In the year 2019, the political capital of Burundi will be established at the headquarters of Gitega province, and some Ministries will soon move to that province. Some National Commissions such as Independent National Electoral Commission, the National Commission of Land and other Goods, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and many others will be relocated to Gitega or other provinces. From the year 2019, the Cabinet meetings will be held in Gitega Province, and the President of the Republic to be elected in 2020 will take an oath in Gitega.
Through the Impulse and Guarantee Fund, we intend to grant two billion Burundian Francs to young people grouped in cooperatives. This money will be given in the form of low-interest loans, and will be revised upwards in the coming years. This is a safe and direct way to fight against unemployment and thus broaden the tax base.
We would like to reiterate our appeal to refugees to return to their country. We know that some of them ended up in captivity, while others were deceived or misled themselves. We take this opportunity to ask the countries that have hosted the Burundian refugees and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to follow this appeal and to make it easier for those who wish to return.
We call on Burundian citizens to refrain from falling into the trap of troublemakers that come forward especially in the run-up to elections. Be reassured and reassure each other, stay calm and go about your daily activities. As for the rest, God will take care of it.
In conclusion, we reiterate our thanks to all those who continue to defend our sovereignty in a spirit of unfailing solidarity, and to watch over the security of the community, night and day. Keep in mind that the enemies of Burundi have not yet disarmed, especially during this Christmas and New Year celebrations. We address our best wishes for the Year 2019 to all Burundians, everywhere they are. May the year 2019 be for all a year of milk and honey, a year abounded with peace and joy”.