Is Rwanda a Normal Country?
The Rwandan reality known to the world is the RPF version simply because it has not been challenged for 18 years.
(Canada) – Yes, Rwanda is a normal country, a normal country with a tragic part of its history but never-the-less, normal. But, Rwanda has an abnormal leadership under President Kagame and his party RPF. The Rwandan Genocide started in April, 1994 and ended in July the same year. It ended with the RPF capture of power and extending their control to the entire country.
It has been 18 years since Kagame and his party the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) formed the post-Genocide government and for those eighteen years, there has been no challenge and no credible threat to their hold on power. During those eighteen years, human rights organisations both local and international have been closed down, opposition political parties deregistered and its leaders done away with, one way or the other, newspapers closed down and journalists imprisoned or murdered. Basic human rights of expression, assembly, dissent and choice, have been abolished using the most ruthless methods.
|Photo courtesy: sfbayview.com|
Kagame and RPF are advancing the argument that because there was genocide, it is naïve to expect the post genocide government to allow democracy and human rights to flourish in Rwanda. President Kagame has on several occasions stated that Rwandans cannot take any lessons from anybody because nobody came to help when they were battling genocide.
There are two inaccuracies in the above assertion, one; when Kagame says we Rwandans, he actually means himself and his party, the rest of the people do not share this self-glorification nor the rewards that RPF awarded itself for winning the war, two; it is not true that RPF won the war without external help. If it was not for the external help especially from Uganda, RPF and Kagame would certainly have lost the war. Americans and the British, and indeed their satellite representatives in Africa contributed to RPF Victory. But that is history.
|Photo courtesy: unpo.org|
The present challenge is how to get rid of RPF arrogance that beholds all Rwandans to their (RPF) whims. The Rwandan reality known to the world is the RPF version simply because it has not been challenged for 18 years.
The world is awash with Kagame lovers who help him propagate the myth that Rwanda’s economy is growing at a miraculous pace, but that is just part of the story. The other part of the story is that the growing economy is not for all but for a select few who have made fortunes from an economic policy whose model has never been challenged. Majority of Rwandans are impoverished and being collected in Imidugudu (cantons) for easy control by the state.
Half of the Rwandan budget is externally funded and it has been for the past decade –it has not changed. The other half is heavily cushioned by the revenues from minerals looted from eastern D.R.Congo. Average house hold incomes have not improved from those of pre-genocide period. Yes, Kigali is beautiful with new structures and well paved roads lined with flower gardens. It is not for the good of the nationals but for mesmerising the international community and business that use Kigali as a base to exploit resources from the region.
Kagame and RPF came to a conclusion that their stay in power will not be guaranteed by good and popular policies but by strong and partisan security forces comprised of the intelligence network, army, police and paramilitary local defense. In fact all these above are one and the same. It is Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) soldiers in different uniforms. These forces protect the government from the people while at the international level, Kagame hires a myriad of influential image makers that keep defending Kagame of all his and his cronies’ crimes against Rwandans and neighbors. This international network comprises of ex-Presidents such as Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and all their entourage, celebrity journalists around the world such as Farid Zakaria in the US and Andrew Mwenda in Uganda. There are law firms in America and Europe that are on RPFs pay role, whose responsibility is to threaten with law suits and bankrupting whoever attempts to tarnish the ‘good image’ of president Kagame and his business empire called the Government of Rwanda, the list is long.
It is these people in their individual and corporate capacities that are aiding and abating crimes being committed by the Kigali regime. They have let Kagame and company propagate lies and fallacies and indeed create a false reality about Rwanda.
This new ‘reality’ according to Kagameans is that, it is Kagame standing between Rwanda and another round of Genocide. That there cannot be a peaceful Rwanda without Kagame at the helm, – really! Ex-President Bill Clinton went to the length of calling Kagame one of the greatest leaders of our time. Really! In other words, according to Clinton, Kagame stands shoulder to shoulder with Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Theodore Roosevelt, General De Gaulle, etc. Really! This reminds me how British Prime Minister (1970-74) Sir Edward Heath, in a flattery fashion, called Idd Amin Dada of Uganda, a gentle Giant.
This sort of blank cheque approval has gotten into Kagame’s head and made him an Amin like character in the region. It has given him a sense of self-righteousness that forms both his internal and foreign policies. Since the RPF took over power, four times more people have been killed in both Rwanda and the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Kigali regime has been the force of influence in this region. All other secondary actors such as AFDL, MLC, CNDP, and now M23 are creations, in whole or in part, of the Kigali regime therefore, RPF and its president are either directly or indirectly responsible for all the resultant human and property loss.
Question is, at what point or after how long after stopping Genocide Kagame and his friends can be held accountable for their actions and inactions using the same standards that other countries and governments are held to? After 18 years, genocide is no longer a good excuse to deny Rwandans the opportunity to make democratic choices as to which leadership they want and by whom, what economic model they wish their government to pursue, what kind of neighbourliness they want.
FDU-Inkingi Commissioner for External Relations