Conferences Professionals – But Where are the Results?


By Robert Mugabe

In this new era where everything needs to be debated upon, has come with it, a new trend of a generation addicted to conferences who I call them “conference professionals”. Of course driven by the quest for knowledge and exposure but little by little the politics of conferences becomes catchy.

Yes, you heard me; they’re conference professionals-experts whose main arena is conference presentation. They want to make sure they attend all conferences.

“It might only take approximately three-four conferences in five star hotels until conference attendance becomes an ideology, which ends with good food and treats that woe those attending even to forget about their original stands on issues” – one political science lecturer who is an occasion trainer told me.

These conference professionals, move from one conference to another with beautiful designed PowerPoint. They have many titles, reading from their budges; ‘Human rights activists, youth empowerment expert, women emancipation advocates…” These peoples know the calendar of every conference, national, regional and international a like. Maybe call them conference tourists.

Heard some of you asking what’s wrong with them? But these are not productive individuals. They’re invited in a conference in Johannesburg simply because one of the conference organizers heard him or her speak in a conference in Nairobi. My friend back in Bujumbura told me that she knows one guy who met her date in Nairobi after three various conferences meeting the same girl, they’re now married. I wonder the name of their kid? Late me say; “Justice in Africa, Human rights status in EAC, you can add more…. that should be the names of their children.

These dudes are connected; they know their equals, the next conference on schedule… Back in their respective countries, they are not productive. Ask them what they have done; they will give a huge list. But just visit them; you will be shocked-that nobody knows them.

Most of these people when you hear them speaking, they will come up with good polished speech than Barrack Obama running for white house. They master the politics of the conferences.

Wait; when you see a young person gets this conference virus, it will be their end. They start boosting about the places they have traveled, nice hotels and good airlines. Bragging about style, PowerPoint design, that’s all what they do. Listening to one of them speak in the gathering, you might think you’re talking to Bill Gates with global investments… or you are talking to US secretary of state or Ban Ki-moon.

You want an example of these folks, don’t waste your time looking in their passports, only listen to them when they’re talking, they will tell you all the places they have gone. Guess to do what? Oooh! You got it, attend conferences.

You think am being aggressive in my writing? Maybe, but its because I imagine how conferences have developed a generation made of a bunch of talkers… indeed also these conference organizers most of them don’t some how care about implementation of the resolutions, simply most of them are sham NGO’s. They have no M&E for these conferences, they just make sure the people are there from region, the banner is up, with few presentation and some diplomats who fund these talking forums and that’s it.

They will take picture and mobilize media for visibility.  The next thing is to pay hotel bills and air ticket with $100 per diem and that’s all. That’s their game of the day; they enjoy the game well meeting with conference professionals. They don’t mind. These chaps don’t want any assignment; they’re tourists in the conference.

Next time I will come for you guys with these sham NGO’s, my other collaborator calls them briefcase NGO’s. Hello! Yes am coming for you. See you next time.


ROBERT MUGABE-is A Jurist specialized in Media Law. He’s also the editor of Great Lakes Voice. He’s based in Kigali-Rwanda.

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES

How “You’re with us or on Your Own” Thinking is Destroying Future Leaders


By Robert Mugabe

Kigali-Rwanda-everywhere in corners of the conferences, meetings in every country in Africa, the slogan is to involve the youth is the leadership of every respective country at the continent. Indeed my Kenyan friend was boosting the other day- on a chat that Kenya is in good model in the region since President Uhuru and his Vice Ruto are relatively young.

This friend supports January Makamba as next President of United Republic of Tanzania. For pro-Makamba’s camp believe that having him in office would bring generational shift! However, the intended in generational shift is change itself not age per say.

Society needs the youth for their energy, zeal, passion, patriotism and flexibility in thinking also for their integrity. Most of the young leaders in office we celebrate today are either born out of crisis like President Joseph kabila of DRC or President Paul Kagame of Rwanda…or are groomed in the parties which most of them still haven outdated ideals or run titanic bureaucracy like UNR of President Faure Gnassingbé.

Let’s take an example of January Makamba we have been talking about, he is from Chama Cha Mapindunzi (CCM) which has ruled Tanzania from the independence with Ujamaa in theory which means socialism.

Though CCM has roots in Ujamaa, but capitalism is the practice of the day. Forget about that Arusha declaration-my point is, yes CCM needs young person (in age) to rule United Tanzania but also CCM needs the youth to breathe life to Ujamaa politics… Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17 I wouldn’t support a new wine (leader) in the old wine skin.

To be groomed in the strong and revolutionary party like CCM, one needs to practice “you’re with us” theory. It means you need to be more catholic than the pope. You need to be a good young and staunch sycophant in the system to be trusted, even when you are a capitalist at heart; you are expected to sing “chama cha wakulima”. Look, even though CCM started as a community party, everyone now knows that it’s only the elites who own the former chama cha wakulima.

The young and dynamic, free thinking young leaders are either in opposition or civil society with limited chances to stand. Nobody knows them. The status quo doesn’t recognise them. Yet they are lions in the den. “They are on their own”. That’s the price for being on your own.

Being on you on theory-mean you can be dynamic, free minded and with integrity but the status quo yet rejects you.  You are not with them. Actually being on your own has robed us many vibrant leaders who would do a lot for their country.  Yet the groomed young leaders in given parties are dead of sycophancy without the mind of their own. If they want to change anything, the party will frustrate them. They’re not free, they can’t change anything. They are too compromised even to change a TV channel at their own homes. what a compromised life!

Maybe, we need paradigm shift. We need something new opposed to these big political parties. What if we stand as an independent candidate? Will African society give them a chance? Tanzania people would you give them a chance? That’s the first change needed.

Maybe, you need change. You need to get away with these beautiful policies in books which are never implemented. You need to eradicate corruption, why not get away with that bureaucracy and embrace reforms? But you need to look around and identify young and dynamic leaders.

Robert Mugabe is a media practitioner and a young leader from Rwanda

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES