The news of the week has been the sudden dismissal from cabinet of former State Minister for Primary and Secondary school education, Theoneste Mutsindashyaka.
An aggressive and flamboyant man, Mutsindashyaka’s political career, which some say has been rising like a phoenix was dealt a terrible blow.
Though the public is yet to learn the reasons behind his sacking, we are certainly sure he was not shown the exit for the increased number of classrooms he might have built while serving as a minster or for the clean boulevards he policed while mayor of Kigali City.
He simply “ate” and forgot that his boss’ eyes were watching. But I will spare him the agony of double crucifixion.
My interest today is to look at the sacking of Mutsindashyaka and relate it to how President Paul Kagame has demystified what most African leadership has fallen prey to.
In dozens of African states, you find Heads of State who knowingly or unknowingly (but largely due to their weaknesses) have created a class of the so-called “untouchables.”
In most scenarios, these “untouchables” are people who wield a lot of political clout or individuals with strong business links with the President. They are mainly drawn from the President’s close family, his political party or a clan of “liberators” who think the rule of law does not touch them.
One common thing that defines this clique of the “untouchables” is that they are driven by pursuit of personal gains at the altar of the state. Their political discourse is defined or motivated by “our turn to eat.”
In such circumstances, these characters have a direct control over the institution of the presidency and the President is a prisoner of these vultures. The principle is in a “closet” and accessing him (or her in case of Liberia) is as difficult as entering the ancient Roman palaces.
They rob state coffers and nothing is done. They break the law and the judge or policeman will simply look the other way. They amass wealth as the ordinary citizen struggles with jiggers.
And because they (untouchables) share their loot with the Head of State, the principal holds no moral ground to question their acts.
Fire one of them and hell will break loose. He/she takes to the media and questions the sanity of his boss who fires him without prior consultation. In many fragile democracies, like we have seen in West Africa, these cliques easily overthrow government if they are tampered with.
This is something that has happened here before. Former President Juvenal Habyarimana (RIP) was controlled on a remote by the members of the Akazu clique. When he tried to tone down his stance on the RPF and allow negotiations, he was vehemently resisted by this very clique.
And the end result was a plan for his demise.
In Africa, rupturing these tightly knit cliques has always been a problem. In the other words, the young public institutions, like police and law courts have been so subverted by ruling cliques that they have no will to handle them.
Now, having said that, I must say that at least up to day, President Kagame has not betrayed us by falling prey to these vultures. And I insist, at least not for now.
For the one decade he has served as President, Kagame has trimmed the egos of his lieutenants who show signs of having an unusual “appetite.” And above all, he has proven that within his kraal no cow grows longer horns than the others.
I need not mention names here but I’m sure everyone is conversant with powerful politicians within this administration or senior members of our security organs that have become victims.
The latest entrant is Theoneste Mutsindashyaka 46, a man arguably at the height of his political career but who must now be walking with his head down.
If I may give credit where it’s due, Mutsindashyaka turned round this city while serving as Mayor. He brought orderliness to the nomadic pastoralists in Eastern Province, leaving a mark during his tenure as Governor.
He probably had good plans in the pipeline for our young generation as state minister for education. But he committed one sin, failing to read from Kagame’s scriptures of corruption and friendship.