Gwynne Dyer got it all wrong

In his article “Rwanda: Kagame’s dilemma” in the “New Vision” of Monday July 19, GWYNNE DYER among many other allegations said that President Kagame’s presidential victory during the 2003 presidential elections was as a result of manipulation.

In his article “Rwanda: Kagame’s dilemma” in the “New Vision” of Monday July 19, GWYNNE DYER among many other allegations said that President Kagame’s presidential victory during the 2003 presidential elections was as a result of manipulation.

But he forgets that the 2003 elections were monitored by a big number of international observers, most of whom endorsed the elections as credible.

They praised Rwanda’s stride in the democratization process. There were four candidates, President Kagame, former Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu, former Minister Nayinzira Nepomscene and Dr. Alvera Mukabaramba. Kagame emerged winner with a landslide.

In his article GWYNNE says that even the 2010 elections will be manipulated, but he is even more mistaken. GWYNNE DYER’s analysis is faulty because he assumes that Rwanda has not changed; that people still think in terms of ethnicity and hence have to vote according to ethnicity.

It is important to note that the politics of ethnicity whose source was the colonial and the neocolonial regimes cannot survive under a progressive government like that of the RPF and President Kagame.

Today, Rwandans have changed a lot but because foreign analysts like GWYNNE are not kin to venture into Rwanda and conduct their own research, they instead prefer to conduct arm-chair speculations and thus end up with erroneous assessments.

The fact on the ground is that President Kagame would have faced stiff competition this time only if he did not deliver during his first term. The achievements realized during his term gives a big number of Rwandans hope that he will surely win the coming elections.

It would be better for GWYNNE to come down to Rwanda and carry out a survey on how Rwandans perceive President Kagame, then he will be able to realize that his assumptions are not in marriage with the reality on the ground.

GWYNNE also alleges that the army and government in Rwanda are exclusively Tutsi; an allegation that is totally false. Even though it is more important to value the capacities of people rather than their ethnic background, it is evident to everyone that Rwanda has an inclusive government.

Though one would not wish to be drawn into such argument as to who is a Hutu and who is a Tutsi, it is important to let GWYNNE know that the first government immediately after the genocide, the President and the Prime Minister were both Hutus.

If the RPF could agree that the President and Prime Minister be Hutus at such a critical time when the memories of the genocide were still fresh, it clearly shows that the RPF had an inclusive political ideology with unity and reconciliation of all Rwandans as its fulcrum.

The RPF government integrated and accommodated into the government some ex-FAR officers and men. They fought together in the Democratic Republic of Congo; some have been promoted to generals.

Until recently, the ministry of Defense was headed by an ex-FAR; this renders GWYNNER’s allegations baseless and shows that they are made out of ignorance. The Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) is no more.

Instead we have the RDF; a transformed force that has over the last sixteen years integrated more than 15,000 officers and men from the ex-FAR.

The parliament, the cabinet and the civil service are all inclusive and no single group whether ethnic, religious or otherwise can claim a monopoly of any government institution in Rwanda.

GWYNNE brings in another arm-chair fantasy that most of the generals are from the Banyiginya clan while President Kagame is from Abega clan and he tries to link that to what he calls a breakdown of Tutsi solidarity.

Basing on Rwanda’s monarchical system where a king was supposed to come from the Banyiginya clan, GWYNNE alleges that generals from the Nyiginya clan think that power has remained in the wrong hands for too long. Who said that and where? Did the writer talk to these Banyiginya generals?

This is completely false, in the first place, there was only one and last conflict between the two clans towards the end of the 19th Century when colonialists started dividing Rwandans along ethnic lines (Tutsi, Hutu and TWA).

Since independence, Rwandans were forced to adopt the ethnic groups and throughout the first and the second republic, politics was dominated by these ethnic groups and later on replaced by regionalism.

Today Rwandans are making progress in getting rid of those ethnic politics and regionalism to advance the spirit of nationalism. It is surprising therefore, to hear a person like GWYNNE, who is seated in London alleging that there is a breakdown of Tutsi solidarity due to the problem of Banyiginya and Abega conflict.

One wonders whether he has ever done a survey among the generals to know that so and so belong to a certain clan. Interestingly very few if any of the Rwandan generals are from the Nyiginya or Abega clans. But even if there were, none of these generals are really interested in such trivial labels.

GWYNNE’s faulty assessment based on isolated incidents in the history of Rwanda is actually an insult to the intellect and values of Rwandans. Rwandans of today think more about education, jobs, business, agriculture and less about trivial labels more in the minds of foreigners fed on lies by sympathizers of former regimes.

In fact the Nyiginya-Abega divide that GWYNNE imagines is like saying that the British are politically divided along catholic-protestant lines. If this is ridiculous in Britain, why should it stick in Rwanda?

Are Rwandans inferior in terms of intellect and values? How come that the French who historically conflicted with the British at Waterloo, in Canada and India, killing each other over territory and resources yet today they are one in the EU. Why shouldn’t Rwandans change and live peacefully together whether they are Hutu, Tutsi, Abega or Banyiginya?

Some thing important to show his prejudice is a question at the start of his article Did he stop or just interrupted the genocide 16 years ago?

It is well known to the world and documented that the RPF, with President Kagame’s leadership stopped the genocide and there is no more debate on that. Those who survived it, those who stopped it and even some of those who participated in it know it very well.

If GWYNNE says the genocide was interrupted, does it mean it will continue some other time, or if it was interrupted and later alone ended, who stopped it? And when did it stop?

If at all GWYNNE thinks that may be the genocide would happen again in Rwanda, he is absolutely mistaken. The government of Rwanda has since 1994 instituted a number of policies, programs, mechanisms, and processes aiming at reconciliation of Rwandans and ensuring that the genocide does not take place again.

The government has succeeded in bringing together victims and killers to meet and talk about their experience. Killers are allowed to return to their villages where they visit those whose families they killed.

They shake hands and share a meal and declare that they all have put the past behind them. Anyone who is genuinely seeking to understand post genocide Rwanda would be impressed by how much Rwandans are trying to put their ugly past behind them and live together in tolerance and mutual accommodation.

Simply put, conflict as has been in Rwanda is endemic but not inherent and thus Rwandans whether Hutu or Tutsi are not inherently evil, they can change.

To cement these achievements, the government is now focusing on economic empowerment of all Rwandans to ensure that every Rwandan can afford to get the best of the basic needs and get rid of poverty.

The program of cooperatives for example, has not only helped Rwandans in fighting poverty but has also facilitated the reconciliation process as victims and perpetrators are members of the same cooperative and share economic objectives or interests.

There is no doubt therefore that with all those programs and mechanisms Rwandans will live in peace and the risk of witnessing another genocide is minimal.

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