A RECENT epistle by a London based commentator claimed that opposition politicians in Rwanda are being gagged ahead of the next election; well that’s a snake-oil aver, the fact is, no one here is being gagged; the opposition simply has no menu to propose to voters thus their silence.
See we could all be entitled to our opinions but not our own facts.
Legitimate Rwandan opposition party politicians don’t have to struggle for political inclusion because they have constitutionally guaranteed positions in government, that’s a fact.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, a crucial office that’s directly charged with public order is headed by a senior member of the opposition, another fact which would mean the opposition has one of their own to blame for not allowing them space to rally.
(I have lost count) but twice or thrice a prominent member of the opposition is on record agitating for the President to seek a third term arguing that there’s no better politician to take over.
If one holds no grudge against these basic political realities in Rwanda, it’s easy to see why legitimate members of the opposition are silent, a self-induced silence born out of the comfort accorded to them by the ruling party.
See, political movements have two major political ambitions; one is to take power and the other is to keep power. But it’s the methods of power consolidation that differ among politicians.
For instance elsewhere, opposition leaders are constantly beaten and tear-gassed to subdue them but in Rwanda, the tact is to make opposition feel comfortable, involve them in nation building which indirectly makes them co-owners of government policies.
Normally, legitimate opposition politicians and their ruling party counterparts should both want the same things for their countries, sustainable growth and stability for nation building, it really shouldn’t be about who is President?
Two weeks ago, Republicans defeated the ruling Democrats in the United States mid-term elections and they now dominate both senate and congress, the message from the electorate to Obama was clear, work with opposition controlled legislature to serve the American people.
According to analysts, Democrats and Republicans disagree on 75 per cent of issues but agree on just 25 per cent; actually most Americans now wish that these two parties could concentrate on the 25 per cent that they agree on instead of wasting time on endless squabbles on the 75 per cent that they will never agree on.
If that happened, there would be loud silence in Washington as Democrats and Republicans would have nothing to yell at each other about…would American democracy be dead? No.
In Rwanda we are lucky because both the ruling party and those in the opposition have found that common ground and decided to ignore their irreconcilable differences and the result is a largely silent but efficient democracy where there are more agreements than disagreements.
Of course, for the few egoistic fellows who refuse this arrangement of co-working, co-leading and co-piloting nation building, they flee the country and prefer sending occasional verbal rockets from abroad to remain relevant- verbal rockets that only provide good quotes for the press.
Democracy shouldn’t be defined by how much noise members of the opposition are allowed to make on streets or radio waves. In a true democracy, members of the opposition also reserve their right to remain silent when they have nothing to yell about.
Also, in all fairness, the opposition fellows in Rwanda have no alternative menu to propose because, unless one suffers from appetite problems, the current menu offered by the ruling party has a delicacy for at least everyone.
Mathematically, in a 95 (for) vs.5 (against) situation, even if you exempted the five from consequences of the city’s noise pollution law, they would never outshout their 95 counterparts, that’s the reality, opposition has no numbers.
Maybe that’s why, people don’t hear voices of members of the opposition because five voices will never in reality raise above 95 others; it has nothing to do with gagging.
Let’s face it, democracy is dictatorship of the majority and balance is not necessarily fairness.
American Republican Sen. James M. Inhofe isn’t a scientist but he uses his political platform to promote his lone voice that global warming is a hoax by the Environmental Protection Agency scientists. Tell that to REMA’s Rose Mukankomeje!
In a balanced radio debate on the matter, you would need two sides represented; believers that global warming is real and on the other, those who say it’s a hoax.
But for fairness, also put the 95 people, who believe global warming is real against the five who say it’s a hoax, now tell them to face-off.
Which side is likely to prevail?