More than four decades ago, I was born in Rwanda, my motherland. I lived through different regimes, from the MRND’s single party-state system to the 1991-1994 multiparty system, the genocidal regime of 1994 and post-Genocide.
I have lived to witness the ups and downs, failure and success of our country. I saw and analysed the leaderships the country has had.
Bad leadership failed Rwanda, good leadership restored her dignity.
Since leadership is not about position but action, those who dignified the country do not need to compete; they only lead.
When the RPF stopped the Genocide against Tutsi and divisive politics were banned, many of us dreamed of immediate peace.
However, the subsequent attacks by infiltrators (abacengezi) with high-level support from some of the neighbouring countries and beyond, became a major threat to efforts towards national unity and development.
Internal subversive activities notwithstanding, the leadership remained focused and national unity prevailed.
The leadership countered all those challenges and stayed relevant and focused. National security was restored. Trust was restored amongst Rwandans. A powerfully-backed but subversive regime was defeated.
Members of the defeated forces were educated and reintegrated, and Rwanda, under the RPF and President Paul Kagame, continued the path to sustainable development.
No reason to repeat the history and its narrative, because everyone can testify about what I am telling you here. But it is important to recall it, for the future generations to know how far Rwanda came and how a visionary leadership with good choices can lead a state to prosperity.
In October 1990, the RPF Inkotanyi launched the liberation struggle from Uganda.
Kagame was in the United States of America, at least when the struggle was launched.
From the US, Kagame was informed of the death of the first commander, late Major General Fred Rwigema, who was killed in combat just on the second day of the struggle, causing total disarray within the RPF-RPA.
Without hesitation decided to suspend his studies to take charge of the liberation struggle as commander, a task he meticulously executed and accounts by different people who were part of the struggle abound to attest to this.
He was ready to die at any time as had been the case for his predecessor. He was not scared; he led the struggle up to victory.
After the RPF/A stopped the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994 under his leadership, Kagame was convinced by majority of party leaders that he should become the President, as the highest reward.
He, however, refused, because his main objective was not seizing power, but only to liberate all Rwandans.
When the situation became imperative in 2000, he accepted to become President. This was the time when the country was still fighting the genocidal forces and their many allies in the Democratic Republic of Congo and beyond.
That was not the kind of presidency one would enjoy: the country was still not stable, foreign aid had been cut, subversive groups were very active, economy was at the lowest, unity and security were still a mirage, and prisons were overcrowded with suspected genocidaires.
Kagame took office in such hard times, and he took the task to stabilise the country and unify all Rwandans. He took on all these challenges that gave him sleepless nights, only for the good of all Rwandans.
Today, Rwanda is a stable, peaceful, united, at peace with its neighbours and global partners, and a prosperous country. Those who were not proud to be called Rwandans and had decided to acquire other nationalities can now “compete” to “lead” the same country they had abandoned in hard times.
Kagame is not competing and he does not deserve competition to lead Rwandans.
I have followed keenly the leadership of President Kagame during the last two decades. I attended many RPF meetings he chaired. I covered his citizen outreach visits.
I also participated in Rwanda Day events when he met members of the Rwandan community abroad. I attended many of his meetings with local leaders in their various capacities.
One thing distinguishes him from everyone; President Kagame is a man of the people, especially the vulnerable and the voiceless.
President Kagame is not power hungry; neither does he compete for power. He only competes to deliver.
I remember on December 15, 2013, when the RPF held its Congress at Petit Stade in Remera, Kigali to, among others, elect members of the National Executive Committee.
Members fronted two candidates for the chairmanship, namely Paul Kagame and Commissioner Abdul Karim Harelimana. In his speech, Kagame disclosed that he had actually voted for Harelimana, which many members could not understand.
When petitions for the constitutional change came in, Kagame said openly that he belonged to the same school as those who did not want it to change.
When the matter was discussed at the RPF cadres’ retreat in Rusororo, Kagame said that he would be comfortable if he was not chairing the meeting that discussed the constitutional change for him to stay on. However, it did happen – against his wish.
In December 2015, Rwandans overwhelmingly voted the constitutional change by over 98 per cent, and Kagame had no choice but only to accept the verdict from the secret ballot.
When primaries started within the RPF, in all Provinces and the City of Kigali, members voted for Kagame.
And, well before the RPF decided who would be its flag bearer, different political parties – outside the RPF-led coalition – backed Kagame as their candidate.
The RPF Inkotanyi later nominated him as its flag bearer on June 17, 2017, in a colorful and joyful Congress at the new RPF Headquarters in Rusororo, which was inaugurated on the same day.
Needless to say, the Chairman of RPF had laid the foundation stone about four years ago, shortly after construction works had started for the now-open Kigali Convention Centre.
In his acceptance speech, he said; “Now that you have brought me here, I accept. I will give it everything I have as I have done before, or even double my efforts so that together we can reduce the need for those factors that compelled you to ask me to stay.”
He added: “I had no role in whatever happened only that I accepted”.
Considering the outcome of the vote, and basing on what has been achieved in hard times, Kagame added: “I know the strength of RPF Inkotanyi; we shall emerge victorious.”
Neither the RPF Inkotanyi, nor Kagame are competing for presidency. They are only leading the hearts and minds of Rwandans, because their track record and achievements speak for themselves.
The author is a political analyst.
The views expressed in this article are personal and not representative of the institution I work for.