On Tuesday evening, on BBC Gahuzamamiryango, Bernard Ntaganda, the maverick Rwanda politician, said that PSD, a political party which has substantial number of members of parliament, was not independent and worked in the interests of the ruling party RPF.
I made an expensive telephone call from western Kenya where I was listening to the radio in my hotel room to a journalist in Kigali to learn more about this man, for though he is constant guest of BBC which I often listen to, I had not found his political rhetoric deserving much attention, but this time around he clearly went overboard.
After learning that he was for a long time a prominent member of PSD before he broke off to start his rebel PS –Imberakuri, for the purpose of competing for the highest office, I could understand his discomfort at his former party fielding Dr. Ntawukuriryaho as a presidential candidate.
Ntawukuriryayo a former lecturer at the National University of Rwanda, served as Minister of Education and Minister of Health before his present influential post of Deputy Speaker of Rwanda National Assembly. To suggest that PSD was ordered by the president to field a candidate is absurd, because it is a constitutional right of every Rwandan, except those excluded by the law like convicted criminal, to seek any elective office.
To suggest that PSD took the decision at the behest of another party is beats logic and not only is it an insult to PSD but to the whole nation. The seats PSD won in the last parliamentary elections attest to its independence and wide national representation.
The scandalous statements by Ntaganda, reminded me of the image some gullible foreigners have of us. In 2008, I was invited to give a talk to a group of graduate students and their professors from an American university hosted by KIE. My topic was “Contemporary Politic in the Great Lakes Region”.
As expected I dwelt on prevailing political situation in the region then, but focused on democratic processes which sparked provocative response from the group.
I remember one gentleman, asking me whether any body would “dare oppose president Kagame in the next elections”. In 2003 he had more than three challengers, why not in 2010! I told them to keep in touch with developments in Rwanda and check out the list of contestants when time comes.
As a voter, however, I favour the idea of two or three contestants; it more dramatic and may be even more democratic.
The likes of Ntaganda, have inadvertently done a good job campaigning for Mr. Kagame because they depict him as indomitable, and as the saying goes, the truth prevails. I have not heard any of the so-called opposition groups challenge the progress under RPF guardianship.
They all praise the constitution and the laws of the country, they recognize progress in all sectors from which they are beneficiaries, like university education which was limited to very few previously.
The foreign infuence factor plays a role in the negative propaganda that has recently been witnessed about Rwanda and elsewhere on the continent.
To get the dollar, you have to tell a lie or two consistently, not any more about gender and environment, those are agendas of past decades. Lack of political space, muzzling the press, suffocating opposition are some of the common allegations fronted. But foreigners sooner realize the truth.
Before the group mentioned above left, they had learnt from socialization that our press was not only free but also overstepped professional limits.
They talked to people freely in clubs about political processes including the Kagame succession plan; a topic I find unfortunate but common; why expect African leaders to prepare successors. Is it not paradoxical to preach democracy and pluralism and expect a succession plan!
I used the word ‘clubs’ instead of ‘bars or pubs’ because of the negative connotations it might have in Rwanda, but in current communication research and practice, the bar especially in Great Britain is regarded as key site of social communication, where like minded people relax and exchange views on issues relevant to their lives.
Coming back to Ntaganda, his utterances are unbecoming of a politician, and as a trained lawyer, should refrain from maligning colleagues as it might land him in court again.
Would he say that opposition is being suppressed? I am not aware whether he has bounced back to helm of the party he co-confounded. I understand he was thrown out because of his highhandedness, so I wonder why BBC does still regards him a credible source or political commentator.
People vote for individuals with concrete achievements and self- styled ‘saviors’ seldom make it. People want tested individuals, whose personality and ability can be demonstrated, so Mr. Ntagana, don’t be jealousy of your former boss at PSD, apologize to him and go back to the drawing board.
Exercise decorum in your political pursuits, it might mend your image so badly needed in future, if you are a real fighter.