Westminster Column

9th August 2013

Greetings from Rwanda where I am on my annual visit with Project Umubano, the Conservative Party’s social action project – now in its seventh year - which takes place in Rwanda, Sierra Leone and for the first time this year in Burundi.

This land locked country was devastated just 19 years ago by the most appalling genocide when nearly a million people were killed in just 90 days while the international community looked on and effectively did nothing. But it is a country which is well led now and which has literally pulled itself up by its bootstraps over the last 19 years. While there are legitimate concerns about what is happening next door in the Democratic Republic of the Congo nevertheless the development in Rwanda is extraordinary and Rwanda remains one of Britain’s most effective development partnerships.

Under both Labour and Conservative Governments Britain’s support for Rwanda has been something of which we can be proud. Britain has no strategic interest in Rwanda; our support is given because it is the right thing to do.

During my week here I am working with members of the Parliament of Rwanda discussing ways in which members of the legislature can hold the Executive – Ministers – to account.

I have also spent 2 days at Britain’s biggest investment in Rwanda the Pfunda Tea Estate. It is truly impressive that under British leadership the Pfunda Tea Company has grown and prospered to the great advantage of more than 4,000 very poor local families who now earn their living directly and indirectly through Pfunda.

The Tea Estate stretches across the incredibly beautiful countryside of valleys and hills which make up Rwanda. It is not easy to believe that such appalling evil could take place amid such tranquillity and with such friendly people.

The award winning produce of the Pfunda Tea Company is sold in Britain as Birchall tea and is sold both online and, amongst other places, in Marks & Spencer. It is delicious tea!