The government is preparing to go around all villages in a process that will culminate into every Rwandan being categorized as either vulnerable and needs help or as rich.
The scheme is called ‘Ubudehe’, which has been around for years – only that the old system has been dropped. It placed every Rwandan in either category 1, 2, 3 or 4.
These categorizations determined what government service you received, or whether the government looked after you completely. However, the system was dogged in inaccuracies. People always complained at local offices that they had been put in wrong category.
Now cabinet in June approved a new categorization system. The local government ministry has began publicising it and it has come with its own storm.
There is Category A, B, C, D and E. If any member of the household (husband or wife) earns Rwf 600,000 above, the family is considered “rich”.
A household earning between Rwf 65,000 – 600,000 is considered middle class and is placed in Category B.
For those in Category C and D, the new system considers them as poor but can very easily lift themselves out of poverty if supported. This is the category that government plans to give for example small capital for business.
As for Category E, people who will end up in this scale will be considered as completely vulnerable that they can’t even take care of themselves. They include rural elderly and those living with severe disability. Government says it will provide them with living allowances.
But even before government officials descend on villages to start carrying out the assessments of every home and individual, social media is having a field day since the weekend.
The official document detailing the scheme appeared on social media and Rwandans are hilariously coming up with their own formulas.
The problem with the new scheme is that Rwf 600,000 or $620 is a very low income rate. To put it into contest, rent for 3-bedroom house alone takes away Rwf 250,000 for a family earning this monthly.
A director in a government department earns around the same gross pay. A university lecturer with a Master’s degree earns slightly above at Rwf 800,000 ($827) monthly, a very low income by any standard, partly because the cost of living is high.
When government says earning Rwf 65,000 ($67) above is being in the middle class, is what has caused more laughter on social media. Office messengers earn between Rwf 60,000 and Rwf 100,000, depending on where you work.
Teachers in government primary schools earn a gross monthly salary of Rwf 65,037.
A secondary school teacher in a government facility gets Rwf 233,754.4 gross pay.
With these pay rates, primary teachers cannot get a decent house for rent, except maybe for rack in a slum.
The thousands of women you see on the streets maintaining Kigali’s shiny roads, are paid between Rwf 30,000 and 40,000, depending on the company you work for. They roam around sweeping and picking litter from 5am to 6pm.
It remains to be seen if government will respond to the ridicule the new categorisation scheme is facing on social media and radio talk shows.