STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT PIERRE NKURUNZIZA
Friends of Burundi ;
1. The year 2016 ends and the year 2017 begins in peace and security. I thank God Almighty for having taken good care of Burundi and the people of Burundi during the outgoing year.
2. I wish all the people of Burundi wherever they are, and all the foreigners living in Burundi, a happy New Year 2017, and a year of divine peace.
3. I thank all the State Institutions, beginning with the Government, the National Assembly and the Senate, the Defence and Security Forces, overall, all those who have worked hard to ensure that this year ends in peace and security.
4. That is why the theme chosen for this year says : « Let us form an unwavering common front to consolidate Peace and safeguard our Independence « .
Dear Compatriots, Friends of Burundi ;
5. The year 2016 has come to the end and we enter the year 2017. Since time immemorial, when peace prevails in the country, the New Year was always celebrated joyfully.
6. During the year 2016, the Government managed to achieve many things. Let me briefly mention some of them ; and the various Ministries and Departments will gradually establish comprehensive reports for the rest.
7. In the area of peace and security : The year 2016 was characterized by peace and security throughout the national territory.
• The Government’s goal was to restore and consolidate peace and security throughout the country. As anyone can see, now peace and security are a reality across the country. We owe this to the dynamism and the hard work of the Government, but also to the active participation of all the people of Burundi.
• Many gangs of criminals have been dismantled and weapons used by these criminals were seized.
• Defence and Security Forces have thoroughly watched over peace and security day and night.
• Many meetings and workshops over the consolidation of peace and security have been organized, hence enabling the population to step up awareness on the importance of these ideals, which are also prerequisites of development.
• The Joint Security Committees have been set up across the country. This was of great use, especially in the city of Bujumbura where calm returned even in the boroughs that the insurgents had taken for bastions.
• In addition to peace and security restored inside the country, it will be remembered that our Defence and Security Forces continued their peacekeeping missions in other countries such as Somalia, Côte d’Ivoire, Central African Republic, etc.
• In this sector, the Government vigorously faced with the attitude of fishers in troubled waters who wanted to plunge our country back into colonization. One shall remember here lies and false information spread by some newspapers, radios and televisions stations with the sole aim of achieving divisions and confrontation among the People of Burundi.
• The language of some Burundians and even foreigners was obviously full of bitterness likely to dig the grave for Burundi. Some measures were taken by our detractors with the objective of depriving Burundi of its sovereignty by attempting to forcibly send foreign troops to Burundi.
I would like to express my gratitude to all the people of Burundi who, in spite of their differences, stood together as one to voice their disapproval and indignation. I also thank the friendly countries that have realized that this was injustice against Burundi and the people of Burundi and have therefore continued to support us. God bless them.
I would also like to thank all the Burundians and everyone for their role and contribution in strengthening peace and security throughout the country. I also thank the young people who dissociated themselves from the groups of criminals, joined the others law-abiding citizens in the construction of the country, disclosed all the plans of this wickedness and denounced the instigators of these insurrections and killings.
8. We will always remember this year as a time when God arranged something to the rescue for us when the enemy was digging a grave for us. No one should forget to what extent Burundi has been unjustly accused and quarantined for an alleged genocide in preparation at a time when the major concerns of Burundian citizens were to know the truth about our past, reconciliation and development. Now we have found out that those who corroborated these lies against Burundi are the very people who have always drawn us into conflicts and hatreds for a very long time. Now, we have understood that genocide is their plan, never the plan of the people of Burundi. Let them keep this genocide in their countries and in their minds !
9. In the economic sector : Although there are countries that have imposed economic sanctions on us, the Government has done everything possible to ensure that the life of the nation continues as usual.
• The projects and programmes of the Government are carried out perfectly ; the salaries of civil servants are paid in full and on time, without any budgetary support. The Burundi Revenue Authority (OBR) collected more than 635 billion Burundi francs, which indicates an additional income of more than 60 billion, nearly 10.5% compared to the year 2015. We will always refer to the inheritance of our forefathers who used to say : « We only wash ourselves better when we have ourselves drawn our water » and elsewhere : « He who cannot help you would better leave you as soon as possible. »
• We have set up a taxpayer’s day which will be celebrated every year in December. On that day, honest taxpayers will be rewarded, as well as those who pay their taxes regularly or those who contribute to boost employment.
• Communes receive each year the 500 million Burundi francs pledged to them to fast track their development. In short, all development programmes have continued.
• The Government also continued its programme to combat corruption and economic embezzlement.
• As more than 90% Burundians rely on agriculture and livestock for their income and food, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock provided more than 34,000 tons of chemical fertilizer and about 4,300 tons of dolomite at an affordable price. In addition, they distributed cows, goats and other improved breed so that the population can obtain organic manure, increase production and hence effectively combat hunger and poverty. I thank Burundians who are significantly investing in agriculture and livestock.
• Community-based Organizations (CBO) have continued their activities, and their number is steadily increasing. I would mention here the CBOs involved in bags manufacturing, maize processing, the processing and preservation of rice, oil, etc.
10. In the public health sector, pregnant women and children under five years of age continued to receive free health care and their numbers increased from 61 percent in 2010 to 79 percent this year.
11. Given the reprehensible attitudes and dishonest behaviours already observed in this area, the Government will take appropriate measures to make the program more equitable. I wish this programme to serve the citizens of Burundi who comply with the Code of Persons and the Family.
12. The Government has continued free of charge distribution of mosquito nets, anti-malaria drugs, antiretroviral, anti-tuberculosis and leprosy medicines, and children regularly receive the scheduled vaccines. Burundi is among the first African countries to implement these programmes.
13. In the education sector, the programme of free primary education and the distribution of some school supplies continued ; vocational schools have been created for pupils who were not admitted into post Basic Education. In addition, schools of excellence for the most talented pupils have been initiated across the country.
14. In this sector, mention should be made of achievements in Universities, Secondary Schools and Basic Education Schools. Upgrading trainings have been organized to improve the quality of education especially for the post-basic-education level, vocational schools and schools of excellence.
15. The sports and culture sector has also made remarkable progress.
Sporting competitions were held normally, both within the country and internationally. The Government has continued its programme of supporting sports and cultural activities.
Burundi has taken a step forward in international competitions. We remember here the performances of the athlete Francine Niyonsaba in various competitions, but also that of other athletes who honoured our country. Even in other disciplines, Burundi has done well : this is the case of judo, karate, matches between EAC parliamentarians, and so on.
16. Under the Cooperation chapter, Burundi continued to expand the circle of friends, according to the interests of the country and its citizens, those already existing and those to come. Since 2015, relations between Burundi and some countries such as Rwanda and Belgium have deteriorated because of the behaviour of these countries. I appeal to these countries to change their attitude vis-à-vis of Burundi by complying with rules and regulations governing international relations and the sovereignty of countries ; otherwise Burundi shall bring to end without notice relations and cooperation with the stated countries.
17. There are also Organizations, the media and people calling themselves experts who made every effort to tarnish the image of Burundi through reports made of lies and fabricated stories. They all had the objective of charging our country to indict it on a wrong basis. Once again, we protest against them and I call on the courts before which we have lodged our complaint to do us justice. Moreover, if they do not stop their smear campaign against Burundi, all the necessary measures to break all relations with them will be taken in the interest of our country.
18. No independent country can tolerate the denigration campaign against our country. We have officially announced that we will never accept the implementation of any measure that would be taken against Burundi without prior consultation with the Government. I repeat it today ; no injustice, no gossip, no denigration against this beautiful country that God gave us shall be tolerated by the people of Burundi. We will never accept to return under any subjugation, we are independent.
19. In the mining sector, the Burundi Mining Authority has been created to better organize this area, to ensure that they do their work in accordance with the law, and within Community-Based Organizations. Their production must be known, taxes must be paid, and more money put into the public treasury than before.
20. In order to help the citizens increase their resources and to combat hunger and poverty, the Government has established a fund for micro-loans to allow people start up small businesses. Nearly 5,000 citizens have already benefited from it and an amount of 430,000,000 BIF has already been disbursed.
21. I take this opportunity to invite the whole population to take care of the environment by planting a lot of trees and protecting them, creating contour lines, combating erosion and safeguarding our arable land and rivers.
22. The Government has continued the construction of hydro-electric power plants on the Mpanda, Kaburantwa, Jiji, Murembwe and Rusomo rivers, in order to ensure that large and small projects requiring electricity can be carried out. Work is also under way to supply electricity to different Communes, and we plan to build photovoltaic power plants to provide solar energy in the Provinces of Gitega, Makamba and Rutana.
23. With regard to villages, a study is underway to provide drinking water and ensure cleanliness in 20 villages for better sanitation and development planning. I wish to ask the owners of these houses in the villages to occupy them, otherwise they will be given to others, and many are needy people who are waiting.
24. During the year 2016, Community development work continued.
Roads have been asphalted, and others have been rehabilitated.
Within the framework of Community Development work, with the help of the population, the Government has built primary schools, secondary schools and universities, health centres, hospitals, offices for Heads of Provinces, Communes and Local Communities, stadiums and playgrounds, markets, villages, water supply, etc. Other infrastructures have been built throughout the country notably hotels to accommodate tourists and travellers, churches, etc. Since we began the Community Work programme, it is during this year that we have commissioned the largest number and quality infrastructures.
The construction of the Presidential Palace has reached a satisfactory level of completion.
I take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to all those who continue to support the development of our country.
25. I congratulate the Districts of Cibitoke, Ngozi and Gitega for leading the way in development over the year 2015. I also congratulate the boroughs of Gihanga, Mutumba, Mwumba and Rumonge that top the charts on Performance Assessment. I wish to ask Communes of Bururi, Mpinga-Kayove and Mukike who were once again ranked last to pull themselves together.
Dear Compatriots, Friends of Burundi ;
26. In the course of the coming year, we plan to do the following :
• The actual activities of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will continue.
• A Commission will be set up to study and propose amendments to some articles of the Constitution in order to update them and harmonize them with the treaties and conventions that Burundi has ratified, especially with those governing the integration into East African Community. All the amendments will abide with the wishes expressed by the population of different social strata.
• We will continue the major social reforms already initiated, such as harmonization of salaries for civil servants, extension of the electricity grid, protection of the environment, free healthcare for pregnant women and children of less than 5 years of age, free primary education, free distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and other projects likely to improve the welfare of the population.
• Though peace and security have improved throughout the country, the Government of Burundi will remain vigilant to avoid unpleasant surprises. I urge all the people of Burundi to continue to safeguard peace and security in their respective communities and to point the finger at whatever seems suspicious through the channel of the Joint Security Committees.
• I also take this opportunity to appeal to all those who still think about disrupting security to give up their evil plan. Let me remind you once more that whoever will light the fire will be burned up by the same fire, and whoever will start the war shall get their compounds to be the battlefield. We will not allow anyone to light the fire and we shall extinguish it from their hands. The Government is ready to fight anything that would disrupt the security of Burundians, wherever it comes from and whatever it takes.
• There are several causes of insecurity in the country : banditry, polygamy, pregnancy outside marriage, drunkenness, consumption of narcotics, etc. The Government will continue its program of combating all these things as it has always done, until they are eradicated.
• As recommended in the Constitution, we will continue to protect and enforce the borders of our country, to safeguard the integrity and independence of the Republic of Burundi. Let those who claim to be able to violate the borders of our country with impunity stop there. We warn them : he who will cause trouble will bear the consequences. In addition, we will also continue to strengthen National Unity.
• With regard to our troops on peacekeeping missions, the work they have done is praiseworthy despite the attitude of some partners who have often created impediments to us, especially through the freezing of « wages » of our military. In the course of this coming year, the Government will take the matter in hand and, if necessary take the perpetrators of this injustice to courts. We will make the whole world know the blatant human rights violation that the Burundian military have been victims through the forfeiture of their more than deserved wages.
• I call for respect for the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the African Union and Burundi. If the issue is not cleared by the end of 2016, Burundi reserves the right to repatriate its troops, to avoid over-spending and to refuse this kind of subjugation.
27. Based on the findings of the inter-Burundian dialogue, texts of laws will be revised, particularly with regard to certain penalties against those who commit heinous crimes, those who are caught red-handed for economic malpractice or corruption, as well as the revision of the Family Code.
28. The Government will carry on with the major areas of national development :
• Construction of asphalted roads will continue. With the help of God, new roads may also be built.
• In order to increase electricity production, the construction programme of the hydroelectric plants will also continue, and we will also start new projects.
• Public and community infrastructures such as schools, health centres, hospitals, markets, villages, playgrounds, etc. will continue to be constructed in collaboration with the community within the framework of community development work. We will not forget the protection of the environment, hygiene in households, in cities and wherever this is necessary.
• In order to boost the national economy and increase production, the Government will continue its measures to make laws governing investment more attractive. Taxes and duties will be paid equitably by all taxpayers, and state-owned and semi-public companies will be revitalized and reorganized appropriately.
• In the fields of social work and promoting sports and culture in Burundi, the Government will not fail to support people with limited resources and to support the promotion of different sports and those with good projects to safeguard our culture and our positive values.
Dear Compatriots, Friends of Burundi ;
29. Before concluding, I would like to offer some advice :
• I remind all Burundians that Burundi is their country, a treasure they inherited from God. They should constantly bear in mind that no foreigner will love Burundi more than the people of Burundi to whom it has been gifted.
• Let us get together to form an unwavering common front and work within associations. We are called to love the work and to refrain from being wasteful.
• Let us form an unwavering common front and live according to the cultural values of our country, respecting our customs and manners, and let the values of Ubuntu characterize us both in words and in actions, always and in all places.
• I appeal to all Burundians and friends of Burundi to turn a deaf ear and deny any support to those who deceive them in order to plunge us into tears and sorrow.
• I urge the Judiciary and Police to constantly give precedence to human rights and security of citizens.
• I recommend Burundians to organize themselves in associations in all the Communes of our country, be it Development Associations or Environmental Protection Associations.
• Let us show everywhere our patriotic spirit and let the heroic personalities like Ntare Rushatsi, Ntare Rugamba, Mwezi Gisabo, Rwagasore, Ndadaye, Ngendandumwe and other unsung heroes be our inspiration.
• Let us pay taxes in order to boost the economy of our country, and kiss goodbye the bad habit of reaching out to those who do not care about our development.
• Let us be committed to the education of our children, encouraging them to keep themselves away from all forms of divisionism.
• I ask all Burundians, especially young people, to avoid idleness and the company of those who mislead them. Always bear in mind these beautiful words : « Blessed is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked, who does not stand on the ways of sinners, and does not take place on the table of the ungodly. » Let those who do this know that God will reveal them one day.
• To journalists, I ask to diversify radio programmes likely to enhance National Unity, peace and security, development, good health, and education based on the positive cultural values of our ancestors.
• Foreigners living in Burundi should comply with the laws of the country and should fulfil all administrative and immigration requirements. Whoever without required papers should hasten to seek them.
• To the Members of the Diplomatic Missions accredited to Burundi and to the Representatives of the International Organizations working in our country, I would ask to enforce the laws of the country and to give truthful and verified information on Burundi. In everything they do, I ask them to respect the Conventions and laws governing international relations, to behave as they require people to behave in their respective countries.
• To the State Institutions, I recommend caution to avoid falling into traps. Be very careful in the relations governed by international and cooperation laws, and if necessary, consult the Ministry in charge of Cooperation.
Dear Compatriots, Friends of Burundi ;
30. Once again I appeal to the Burundians who are outside the country, those who know themselves to be free from reproach, to mend their fences and return to the country. I know that some of them have been misled ; I also know that some others have simply been mistaken. Let all of them understand that falling is quite normal. What is wrong is not to fall, but to fall and not stand up. I want 2017 to be the year of their return back home. Their fellow Burundians are ready to welcome them ; let them come home to build our country together with us, and that together we shall prepare the forthcoming elections inasmuch as this is the right time to prepare for 2020 elections.
31. This call for repatriation is also aimed at Burundian refugees wherever they are. Let the year 2017 be a year of return to their home country. Peace and security prevail in Burundi, and the Government is ready to welcome them.
32. I am grateful to those who have already hid my constant call and returned to the home country. I take this opportunity to ask the host countries of Burundian refugees and the UNHCR to facilitate the return of refugees who wish to return home.
33. During this end-of-year festive season, I ask you to remain vigilant. Ensure the safety of your respective communities.
34. To conclude, I would like to reiterate my gratitude to all of you Burundian citizens for your continued solidarity in safeguarding your independence and that of your country despite your differences and divergences, which are a source of wealth. I also thank all those who have contributed to the restoration of peace and security and the implementation of development programmes. I urge you to continue this praiseworthy work.
35. In order to enforce peace, dignity and well-being throughout the country, and in accordance with Article 113 of the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi, I have pardoned prisoners who have been sentenced to an Imprisonment not exceeding five years and to those who have already served 3/4 of their sentence. I have also reduced sentence terms for prisoners depending on the types of the crimes and their behaviour inside the prisons. With this measure, about 2,500 prisoners will be released. I ask them to avoid anything that might cause them to fall into the same mistakes again.
36. I wish you all a happy 2017, a year of peace from God, a year of great success in everything and everywhere. « Let us form an unwavering common front to consolidate Peace and safeguard our Independence « .
GOD BLESS BURUNDI AND PROTECT THE PEOPLE OF BURUNDI