Rwanda, unlike many African countries, has experienced the worst of violent conflict that culminated into the 1994 genocide, seeing nearly a million dead. BRIG. GEN. FRANK RUSAGARA continues to expound on the management and resolutions of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
5. Management and Resolution of Fault Lines
a. Domestic institutions and policies
One of the major, and perhaps most defining, fault-line being experienced in Rwanda currently is the continued perception of difference between Rwandans. This derives from the traditional socio-economic ascriptions of Hutu and Tutsi, which, despite their persistence, are outdated in this present day and age. The ascriptions were never “ethnically” concrete, but superficial creations entrenched for political expediency by the colonialists and the subsequent post-independence regimes. They however remain a source of potential conflict in Rwanda given their history and negative psychosocial entrenchment.
Ensuring unity and reconciliation therefore remains key to the national agenda. This has not only enabled peace and socio-economic development, but has demonstrated the way forward in rebuilding a shattered nation.
An important aspect in making this possible began with the full integration of the militia and ex-FAR into the new national army. Through integration, espoused in the traditional concept of Ingando, the military led the way and provided the example of an effective peacebuilding model that ended up being replicated in other national sectors.
Rwanda’s model of peacebuilding is based on consent, where ex-combatants were fully integrated in the spirit of the 1993 Arusha Peace Accords between the RPF and the Government of Rwanda. Protocol III of the Agreement provided for integration of the RPA into the Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR).
The Rwanda model was effected through the traditional concept of Ingando (solidarity camps). The Ingando in Kinyarwanda means a military encampment or assembly area where the troops traditionally received their final briefing while readying for a military expedition abroad.
The briefing included, among others, re-organisation of the troops and allotment of missions and tasks.
In such gatherings, the individuals were reminded to subject their interests to the national ideal and give Rwanda their all.
This meant that whatever differences one may have, the national interests always prevailed, since the nation of Rwanda is bigger than any one individual and ensured prosperity for all. That was the idea behind the institution of Ingando.
The objectives of the Ingando is to help the participants, who today also include members of the greater society, i.e., students, grassroots leaders, opinion leaders, teachers, released prisoners, etc, overcome mutual fear and suspicion, and temptation to revenge; talk about the history of the conflict; heal the wounds of hatred; accept responsibility for any harm done to each other; demystify negative perceptions of each other; collective ownership of the tragedy that resulted from the conflict; and, agree on what the future portends for them.
Ingando employs the concept of problem solving workshops (PSW), as a participatory conflict management strategy. Problem-solving workshops are designed as the best method through which a protracted conflict such as Rwanda’s may find sustainable resolution. PSW encourage the parties to analyse their conflict, its causes, the parties’ attitudes towards each other, and their post-conflict relationship.
Immediate security dividends from the Rwanda peacebuilding in 1997 was the transformation of the counter-insurgency strategy into a political and social effort that would, in a short, time break the back of the ex-FAR and militia insurgents operative in and out of the country.
The soldiers got integrated and became stakeholders as responsible citizens and breadwinners for their families. The overall peacebuilding pay-off includes continued stability and a measure of reconciliation between conflicting parties, their communities and other national sectors.
The peacebuilding efforts have proved valuable in the socio-economic strides that have been made. The irony, however, is that the economic growth must be sustained and be inclusive and all-embracing. Otherwise all the peacebuilding efforts might come to naught, as even peacebuilding cannot be sustained on empty stomachs.
This brings in the question of the political leadership and its viability in Rwanda. The RPF had anticipated the above challenges long before the genocide. During the RPF inauguration in Kampala in 1987, for instance, it postulated an eight-point programme in its manifesto.
In tackling the foreseeable challenges, the first three points of the programme formed the core in its agenda. The first point in the programme was to keep “Rwandans united as one people.” The second was to “ensure peace and security”, and the third to realize national “development.”
The eight-point programme would pave the way for Rwanda’s Vision 2020 that aims to make it into a middle income country by the year 2020 with income per capita of $900 from the current $370. By concentrating on socio-economic development as charted out in the Vision 2020, the emphasis is also on “social cohesion and equity, underpinned by a capable state.”
However, realizing the Vision will not be an easy task. With a substantial donor dependency and a population increase projected to reach 16 million from the current 10 million by the year 2020, achieving the Vision remains a daunting challenge.
For instance, an increase to 16 million by the year 2020 suggests an average population growth rate of 6 per cent per annum over the coming ten years. Even if the national GDP were to grow at 10 per cent per annum, such a high population growth suggests a much reduced economic growth in real terms.
Also of worrying concern are the perceptions of difference between Rwandans, the potential conflict of which may derail the government programme. The government however concedes that, while it is possible, overcoming these perceptions entrenched over generations will not take one generation to erase, but perhaps several.
Ensuring peace and security for all, while enhancing national development has therefore been upper most. Whether this will succeed and the results there-from will endure as the current government’s legacy. But it all depends on the level of commitment of its leadership.
All too often in Africa good policies are undermined by what Mills has observed as the widespread “confusion between party, public and private interests.”
The viability, therefore, of the current political leadership in Rwanda and the democratic ideals it espouses rests on the success it will gain in ensuring a national outlook and perception among its citizens, and not least universal socio-economic development.
Thus, whether the RPF succeeds or fails will only be judged on whether it delivers on its founding manifesto and the Vision 2020, and not on the “Tutsi-ness” or “Hutu-ness” of the ruling party.
As the Kivu Consensus has emphasized, “Africa can forge a pathway to economic success by building ‘coalitions for growth’ across the continent.” Rwanda recognizes this, and views its security and national development in terms of regional integration. With the regional integration within the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), etc., and the broader market that this has provided, the overall long-term objective of the Rwandan government is to move from agrarian to an industrial economy, but also a peaceful and secure Rwanda. It is also a boon that Rwanda now is a member of the Commonwealth.
Rwanda views its broader security concerns within the ambit of the African Union, through which it contributes peacekeeping forces in Darfur, and within the East African Community for national security and socio-economic development.
As a member of the EAC, Rwanda is also part of the East African Standby Force (EASF). The EASF is part of the AU Peace and Security Architecture, which requires the five regions of Africa to develop their own standby brigades.
The East, North, West, Central, and Southern Africa regions are expected to develop their own brigades that will ultimately form an African Standby Force equipped to intervene in conflicts, meaning the continent will no longer have to depend on the United Nations every time a conflict breaks out.
Article 16 of the AU Constitutive Act provides that member states establish regional mechanisms for conflict prevention, and management as part of the overall security architecture of the African Union.
While realization of this remains in the future, Rwanda has engaged in other efforts such as the bilateral cooperation demonstrated under the Umoja Wetu Joint Military Operation between Rwanda and the DRC to tackle the FDLR security problem.
Rwanda and its reliance on the international community for its own and regional security has continued to be a dismal failure.
The recent UN Group of Experts report finds that far from resolving the root causes of the violence in the DRC and the region, the operations backed by MONUC, the world’s biggest peacekeeping mission, have aggravated the conflict in North and South Kivu provinces.
The Report notes that despite the surrender of its fighters, the FDLR continues to replenish its ranks through the active recruitment of both Congolese and Rwandan Hutus.
They also benefit from support networks in Africa, Europe and North America, as well as financing from their control of the east’s lucrative tin deposits despite the army’s efforts to push them out of mining areas.
The fact that the FDLR find sanctuary in the region underlies the international community’s challenge, given the significant implications on regional security. It however may be noted that the international community may be appreciating the seriousness of the regional insecurity with the recent arrest of two FDLR leaders in Germany.
Rwanda remains unique in that its conflict will always be defined by the 1994 genocide, not only by the events and circumstances that led to it, but in what continues to transpire in its aftermath. What can be discerned in the history of the Rwandan conflict is the spectre of a racial ideology that was combined with the poverty of the masses under Habyarimana resulting in the genocide.
Even under the current government, poverty remains endemic in Rwanda, while suspicions deriving from perceived differences in the aftermath of the genocide remain rife in Rwanda. This makes poverty and the perceived “Hutu-ness” and “Tutsi-ness” the two major fault-lines still persisting in the Rwandan conflict, which continues to play out in the region.
It thus follows that in addressing the fault lines Rwanda views its future and sustainable national security within regional blocks (i.e., AU, EAC, COMESA, including the Commonwealth) that also promise socio-economic development. But the government realises that it is also incumbent upon Rwandans themselves in all the sectors of national development, including economic, to rise up in what President Kagame visualises as a teaming together.
As he has observed, “This is a vision where the traumatic divisions of the past are healing in the melting pot of commercial activity and burgeoning employment. It is, in every sense, a vision of ‘Team Rwanda.’”
This has meant putting policies in place and investing in the people through education, gender empowerment, and value addition in economic production and marketing to enable Rwanda’s participation in global trade as equal partners with other nations.
Brig. Gen. Rusagara is the Defence Attaché at the Rwanda High Commision in London.