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Lesson from Mugenzi and Rusesabagina: it doesn’t pay to invest in liars, thieves and terrorists

They cannot hide their true nature for very long. Eventually it comes out because it is so strong that no amount of covering, sanitization or attempt at respectability can hold it back.

The pity is that they take good people for a ride. Such people only discover the deception much later and often at great cost, in material terms, trust and belief in the goodness of human beings. That may result in shutting off opportunities for those in real need for help.


Also unfortunate is that they find other equally deceitful people with whom they get into a mutual pact of distortion of the truth aimed at causing destruction of good people or nations.


This has been the story of Rwandan renegades abroad, one of falsification and fabrication – of their identity and character, their past and even future. That would be all right if it concerned them only. But it does not. They tie it to the lives of other Rwandans and the future of the country.


Their story, however, is also one of continually uncovering masks and revealing who they really are. 

The latest unmasking has been that of Rene Mugenzi who has been jailed in the United Kingdom for stealing church money. Theft is a serious offence and a sin. But in Mugenzi’s case it assumes another dimension and is full of irony at every turn. Stealing from the church money meant for charity, that he may have benefitted from when he first arrived in the UK is one. 

The church is also supposed to be the source and guardian of morals. And this is the point: the man they entrusted with church money has no morals. Never had any. Little wonder he stole the money.

Mugenzi has lived in the UK for more than twenty years. He arrived there claiming to be a refugee and victim of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994. That was a lie. He is a son of a well-known genocidaire and could not have been a victim.

He is then supposed to have undergone some transformations. He changed into a so-called human rights activist, community organiser, British politician, and crusader against the president and government of Rwanda.  

He has now been uncovered as a gambler and common thief. The transformation never really happened. He remained true to type. No covering was ever going to be big enough.

Not surprisingly, the ‘society for the distortion of truth’ that includes some in the media are busy finding excuses for Mugenzi’s true character. They mention thief in the same breath as human rights activist. Perhaps the activist label will cover thief and make it invisible.

They must mention that he is a Kagame critic as if that explains why he stole church money. But perhaps realising that that is inadequate, they make other excuses for the crime. He was driven to it by fear and anxiety caused by threats from the government of Rwanda.

This also might not do, so better not to tell the story at all. Luckily the story came out and Rene Mugenzi is not any of the things he has claimed in the past, but a common thief, liar and imposter.

He is not alone in this. His unmasking comes after that of another dissembler – Paul Rusesabagina. Long touted as a human rights activist, political dissident and Kagame critic, the man turns out to be no more than a terrorist. He has admitted being such, yet the same people that made him believe he was other than who he is deny it.

Questions must then be asked: why do these characters get ready acceptance in the lands where they have fled to escape responsibility for their deeds? Why do they get such advocacy even when they are clearly guilty of some crimes? Why don’t they simply try to earn an honest living?

As already mentioned, there are some people who believe sincerely that the likes of Mugenzi genuinely need help and willingly give it. They only realise later that their generosity was abused.

There are others for whom Mugenzi, Rusesabagina and their kind are convenient tools in their fight against leaders and countries that do not conform to their idea of an African country.

Rwanda has, for instance, refused to fit into a definition of it made by others. Rwandans have elected to define themselves and their interests, and chosen a development path that suits them. To some, this is unacceptable.

They cannot place President Paul Kagame into any of their stereotype category of an African leader. This, too, is not permissible.

And so country and leader must be brought back in line, and the people to help do that are the likes of Mugenzi and Rusesabagina. Trouble is, they have no credibility. They are thieves and liars, terrorists and murderers, and charlatans of every kind. 

The Mugenzi story may yet prove useful and open the eyes of UK authorities to the lies of particularly the indicted genocide suspects living there.

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