The Bible says “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”, but former Rwanda intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya was casting stones all over the place in a recent interview with Uganda’s The Observer newspaper.
His blunders in that interview left many in doubt of Karegeya’s hyped legal credentials, given the extent to which he implicated himself in some crimes, including terrorism.
Indeed his interview, ironically conducted by a journalist he (Karegeya) threw out of this country, was a classic case of cutting your own nose to spite your face.
This was yet another one in a long line of betrayals from Karegeya, who was jailed twice for gross indiscipline, reckless lifestyle, insubordination and desertion, after squandering several chances he had been given to reform.
Interesting in his interview, he cheats history by placing himself as one of the key architects of the RPF struggle and yet his minimal involvement with the RPF/A armed campaign is an open secret to many.
Who does not know that Karegeya made peripheral contribution to the planning of the RPF struggle, only joining the victorious fighters in late 1994 at the personal invitation of President Paul Kagame?
Indirectly, Karegeya proves his naivety of the RPF struggle by trying to question President Paul Kagame’s leadership role in the liberation struggle, something that even the Rwandan President’s vocal critics cannot contest. Had Karegeya played an active role, he would know well how instrumental Kagame was in holding together and re-organizing the RPF/A after the demise of General Fred Rwigyema.
I was compelled to respond to Karegaya’s utterances simply because of the drums of war he and his fugitive colleague, Kayumba Nyamwasa , are openly amplifying lately.
As a Rwandan who knows well what this country went through, with a sober appreciation of the tremendous strides made by the RPF-led government and people of Rwanda, the call for war should be the least thing on any mind of a sane citizen of this good nation.
Though Karegeya’s war rhetoric against a democratically elected government shall, without doubt, fall on deaf ears of Rwandans keen on consolidating their precious gains made in the last 16 years, it’s high time that these run-away fugitives are brought to order by being told to stop abusing the hospitality of the country hosting them.
Indeed, the declaration of war should not be taken lightly by South Africa since, by international conventions, asylum seekers are prohibited from engaging in subversive political work.
Yet again, going by his new call to destroy what has been painstakingly put together by a national effort, how else would one de-link Karegeya and his cohorts from the terrorist attacks after reading what he said in The Observer?
His utterances have confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that the man is guilty of masterminding the recent grenade attacks Kigali.
He claims that Paul Kagame is a dictator who needs to be fought by force of arms. And this is the Kagame, interestingly, whose administration Karegeya was happy to work in for 10 years. Did he wake up to the so-called autocracy after he had been removed from the prestigious position of Director General of External Security?
Taking advantage of the weak institutional structures in the early years, which he alludes to in his interview, Karegeya notoriously amassed wealth, which he could not even put to better use other than recklessly living on. Of course time to give account was always going to come.
And when it finally did, he fled and is now behaving like the genocidaires, who without a sense of shame wave the banner of lack-of-democracy in Rwanda to hoodwink the world by crying of political persecution.
His interview brings out exact type of mentality President Kagame always talks about and is keen on eliminating – indiscipline and mediocrity.
Karegeya was best placed to understand this better. He held a senior position in the intelligence system and was one of the officers checking his colleagues on acts of indiscipline and insubordination. Unfortunately he turned out to be the worst student.
If there’s anyone who shouldn’t throw mud at President Kagame, Karegeya comes top of the list. This is because he was made what he was before his disgrace, by Kagame.
Even as his errant behaviors came to the limelight, the President tolerated the ex-spy for a long time, hoping that the man would reform. He didn’t. Power had corrupted his ability to reason.
Which is why he is finding it difficult to fathom that today’s battles are of ideas and not bush-based. They are about which policies will be more effective and not about armed struggle. Times have simply changed.
Rwandans are happy with what they have achieved, and honestly, the future looks a lot better. The moving testimonies of socio-economic transformation, massive crowds, enthusiasm, colour and hope shown at RPF rallies during the ongoing presidential campaigns attest to the new era.
They sing glory to the numerous home-grown unique policies that have fundamentally changed their lives. The likes of Mutuelle de Santé (a health insurance scheme), Girinka (one cow per family), Ubudehe (community dev’t work), Imihigo (performance contracts), Gacaca and free 9 year basic education.
The people are craving for the continuity they understand only too well and deserve. No one is about to trade off the hard earned progress in health, education, agriculture, security, basic infrastructure and ICT for reckless war mongering. Rwandans know better the bitterness of such madness.
I bet the Rwandan ears listening to and taking Karegeya and Kayumba seriously are as few as the chance for a successful armed struggle here is hopeless.
A war is fought when there’s a common cause for it, not simply out of a need to satisfy individual egos. More than anyone else, Rwandans know the price for war – the least what we want to hear is that discourse.
The author is Director General
Ministry of Information, Rwanda