Opposition in exile not of any consequence

THERE IS no doubt that Frank Kagabo’s column that appears in Rwanda Today, a weekly on Rwanda carried in The East African, is usually expressive and balanced on Rwandan issues.
Pan Butamire
Pan Butamire

THERE IS no doubt that Frank Kagabo’s column that appears in Rwanda Today, a weekly on Rwanda carried in The East African, is usually expressive and balanced on Rwandan issues.

However, perhaps for not being a daily close observer of Rwandans’ interests and struggles in building their country, as he is mainly based in foreign lands, sometimes his articles miss the point of what exactly matters to the Rwandan government and people. 

This may be the case in last week’s article entitled “Politics of convenience and hardball political games live in harmony”.

When you miss the point of what matters to Rwanda, you cannot get the grasp of where the “Kigali charm offensive”, as Mr Kagabo terms it, is directed. That “offensive” is aimed at nothing except what advances the interests, and improves the lives, of Rwandans.

To Kigali, ‘exile-opposition’ shenanigans are a laughable pastime to turn to for comic relief, in between serious business. Those pranks were long ago seen for what they are: futile efforts at dividing the people of this land for opportunistic ends. Who doesn’t know there is nil value to draw from them? 

If the Saturday BBC Imvo n’Imvano programme is popular here, it’s because it plays to the tune of those whose single survival strategy as opposition politicians is to sell such high-jinks. For that alone, in Kigali and all around, they are a source of amusement. 

That “old hand in Rwandan journalism” Ally Yusufu Mugenzi would have been good at his job but for the fact that he is schooled in the divisive politics of a Rwanda gone by that incited hatred among its citizens. There was no shred of objectivity in the journalism of then and there isn’t, in the journalism of that “old hand” today. “Entertaining” it may be, in the sense of ex-PM Twagiramungu’s “Ariko murasetsa”; “informative”, it is not.

The new ‘out-of-exile’ lawyer, Evode Uwiziyemana, after waking up to the sense of joining his compatriots here “to serve the good cause” (his words) that Rwanda is today, has revealed all. So he says he used to be paid for his services. And the services? To adeptly play around with his legal knowledge and ‘expose’ Rwanda as misusing her laws to “curtail civil rights and freedoms of the country”.

That way, our “old hand” and his raft of oppositionist buddies hoped to ‘legalise’ their opposition arguments. It’s no wonder, then, that these opposition elements are almost always the sole guests on Mugenzi’s programme. 

How he manages to con money out of a respectable institution like the BBC on this, one wonders. Do the foreign institutions host these programmes in African vernacular languages for purely altruistic reasons? Or do they have an agenda of shaping the thought in the citizenry vis-à-vis their governments?

None should miss the point that the Rwandan government cannot take oppositionists in exile seriously, playing hardball or convenience games to win any of them over.

Apart from making vague nuances about government abusing its people’s rights and freedoms, usually picking them from international actors who have their own ill-veiled agendas, no organised opposition group has presented any appreciable alternative programme to that of the government.

Their constant shifts of “sides and views” thin their credibility even further. If our self-exiled oppositionists want to be taken seriously, they should consolidate their multitudes of single-or-double-membership parties and come home and present a formidable opposition against the other parties here.

Otherwise, that self-exiled individuals come home and are received with open arms, or even offered juicy jobs when they have something to offer, should not surprise anyone.

We know that from the outset, unity and reconciliation for the progress of Rwandans have been the hallmark of this government. If in coming back those individuals encourage others to follow suit, especially those held hostage in the jungles of DR Congo and others in foreign capitals who may have unfounded misgivings over their activities in 1994, they should be welcomed.

After all, in building their country, Rwandans need all hands on deck.

As for “those who were previously inner-circle members of the ruling elite” now being bitter enemies, maybe that’s evidence that there was no inner circle in the first place. Which would mean there was no “divorce”, bitter or otherwise. Rather, maybe the body-politic of this nation-state rejected their manner and method of serving and they found they had no place in it.

Still, north or south, home is best. No doubt this land will accommodate them when they are visited by a change of heart, even if they might need to account for their past conduct. 

Before he took to exile, Gerald Ntashamaje must have thought he was bang inside that “inner circle”, having participated in the liberation war. Today he is back on the soil, in the humble service of his people.

Rwanda has no time to play hardball with oppositionists in exile. They are not of any consequence to anybody.

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