One can always trust the people that write articles under the pen name “Fred Muvunyi” to turn anything President Kagame does into something bad or negative.
For those that may not know, Fred Muvunyi is the former chairman of Rwandan Media Commission (RMC), a self-regulatory body for media practitioners in the country.
He is the fellow that was made to resign by his own board, following a slew of ethically-challenged actions, and then went to live in Germany.
In calling for his resignation in 2015, his board accused him of taking unilateral decisions, contempt for procedure, and other administrative anomalies.
Muvunyi had no choice, but to resign, especially given that he was heading an organ charged with upholding media ethics, meaning that his own ethics had to be above board.
After resigning, he left the country and soon after arrived in Germany, where he sought political asylum, alleging that back home he was “in danger”.
With an amazing speed, this gentleman was soon granted asylum, and was expeditiously resettled and given employment at the German state-run media organ: Deutsche Welle.
Few asylum-seekers would be integrated with such speed.
Fast-forward, not only was he given employment at a speed of lightening, he became an “editor” at Deutsche Welle and soon, he was publishing opinions in powerful newspapers in US like, The Washington Post.
Anyone that knows something about journalism will tell you how almost impossible is it is for some journalist with no significant experience in his home country –a sub-Saharan country to be specific– to get a byline in The Washington Post, let alone having a full time senior job with a broadcaster, like Deutsche Welle.
Muvunyi may have gotten himself elected chairman of RMC, but he had no more than five-year experience as a Kinyarwanda language reporter.
The more plausible explanation therefore is that some people may have found a useful tool in Muvunyi, with the convincing credentials of “a former high-ranking official in the Rwandan media”.
It is a tool with which to advance their political agenda vis-a-vis Rwanda.
Central to that agenda is ensuring everything the Rwandan Head of State does is to be turned into something negative. The long-term goal of course is control.
Those Africans, such as Kagame cannot, and must not be allowed to have their own voices, or be allowed to speak for their people.
They must not be allowed to say, “Here are our homegrown democratic solutions to take our country forward”. No. The guidelines must come from the West.
The democratic solutions must be imported from the West, regardless of your circumstances and whoever dares challenge them on this, tools like Muvunyi are unleashed on them.
Take an example of an article under the byline “Fred Muvunyi” appeared in The Washington Post of May 1, 2019 with the headline: “Rwanda’s strongman finally says the right thing on free speech. Does he mean it?”
The same article would appear in DW the following day, May 2, 2019, but with the headline tweaked to read slightly differently: “Rwanda’s Paul Kagame – an enemy of the media parading as a statesman.”
Coincidence? We shall let you decide.
The subject of this article is President Kagame’s dissenting view on a recent decision by the Supreme Court to keep a clause that criminalises insulting the Head of State.
This was despite the same court deciding to repeal a similar article that criminalised defaming public officials.
A statement he issued a day after the ruling. President Kagame said that though he respects the Supreme Court decision, he felt it was in bad faith to protect the head of state at the expense of other public officials.
He said that just like other public officials, defaming the head of state should be addressed through civil jurisdictions, rather than criminal.
Now, one would have expected everybody to applaud this progressive stance by the President.
It obviously is informed by the exigencies of what he, as an elected head of state, is expected by the public to do.
But no! It is precisely at this moment thatDW and The Washington Post wheel out Muvunyi, to tell their audiences that Kagame “is a dictator”.
There follows the usual unproven or debunked criticisms supposed to prove lack of media or “political freedoms” in Rwanda.
One shudders to think what they would be saying if President Kagame had gone ahead to say he agreed with the court criminalising insults.
It is a case of damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.
DWand The Washington Post go to some length to buttress the conclusion that, “Kagame may seemingly have done the right thing, but do not trust him!”
There is an irony on display here that one wonders whether it is one lost onDW and The Post’s editors. The Rwandan leader is ensuring the media in Rwanda does its work with no fear, but they are hitting him for it!
They are the same groups always harping away on alleged lack of media freedoms, yet when Kagame so publicly encourages media freedoms, they still clobber him.
It is about control really. The narrative of Rwanda, and the Rwanda rebirth, or how Rwanda moves forward must be shaped not by its own leaders, as President Kagame and his administration are doing and have always been intent on doing.
That must be done either with the permission of, or under the direction of those that DW, or The Washington Post serve, or whomever else whose interests the likes of Muvunyi serve.
The author is Chief Editor at RBA.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.