Recently, four Rwandan renegades, Kayumba Nyamwasa, Patrick Karegyeya, Gerald Gahima and Theogene Rudasingwa were in the media, as usual, attempting to tarnish the image of the Government of Rwanda and its leadership. In their joint work, misleadingly entitled “Rwanda Briefing”, that appeared in the print media, the four renegades personalize issues and fail to hide their true character and personality.
Brigadier General Richard Rutatina and Lieutenant Colonel Jill Rutaremara respond to the misguided “Rwanda Briefing” report in a three-part series.
RPF still a democratic movement
THE renegade group again seeks to distort facts by wanting to portray the RPF as an off-the-course, one-man party, which has lost its original organizational principles. The fact is that in as much as the RPF has not remained static since Theogene RUDASINGWA was its Secretary General, it has retained its essence. The original RPF which led the liberation struggle up to 1994 of course later changed form but retained the essence.
The liberation front (RPF) turned into a Political Party. The RPF has and continues to be guided by the principles of inclusion and democratic practice which were espoused since its inception. To allege that the RPF has become one man’s vehicle is a deliberate attempt by the disgruntled renegades to abuse these principles, its chairman, leadership and membership of the party both inside and outside Rwanda.
The RPF has maintained the essence of her structures and decision making processes. The supreme organ remains the Congress which meets every two years; the National Executive Committee runs the day-to-day business of the Front and the various Regional, Branch and Cell structures that embody the peoples’ (membership) activities.
The renegades appear to suggest that RPF is not democratic because each and every member does not have an equal say in the running of the organization. But, this would be an practical impossibility. In fact, the call for absolute egalitarianism has been a characteristic of pseudo-politicians throughout the history of political struggle. Therefore, the allegations that the party has been hijacked by autocratic tendencies are false and baseless. Today, the RPF has attained that original aim of transforming into a mass party that has a very strong grass-root representation.
Rwanda not a de facto one-party state
A one party state denotes a political framework in which only one party rules. Good examples abound in history. The RPF could have formed a single party state after the 1994 genocide against Tutsi but it chose not to. True to its ideals, the RPF invited the political parties that were not involved in genocide to participate in the Government of National Unity as per the ARUSHA protocols. The interim government was a coalition of eight parties.
The 2003 Constitution which enshrines the power sharing principle was drafted and promulgated during the RPF government. Under this arrangement, the ruling party does not dominate any branch of government. The RPF would have easily practiced the philosophy of ‘winner-take-all’ but it did not.
To date, Rwanda has experienced two multi-party elections which have been widely hailed by various election monitoring and observer groups as exemplary, democratic, peaceful and well organized. In view of these facts, the allegation of equating a landslide winning party within a multi-party setting as de facto one party rule is deliberately misleading, malicious and simply a reflection of hostile propaganda characteristic of all anti-Rwanda forces.
Separation of powers
The renegades have deliberately chosen to ignore the constitutional provisions that clearly stipulate the separation of powers of government. Rwanda has chosen the path of the rule of law and constitutionalism. Article 60 of the 2003 Constitution provides “…The three branches are separate and independent from one another but are all complementary. Their responsibilities, organization and functioning are defined by this Constitution…”.
The spirit and letter of the Rwandan Constitution is strongly adhered to; not according to the misguided whims of the renegades, but according to the will of the people of Rwanda.
The renegades themselves admit that Rwanda has made enormous achievements in the justice sector. An excerpt from their own document is highly telling:
“Rwanda has invested heavily in rebuilding its justice system since the genocide. Rwanda carried out extensive reforms that ostensibly seek to create an impartial, independent and effective judiciary. The government has carried out a restructuring of its entire justice system, creating new justice sector institutions that are better organised, staffed by better-qualified personnel and better resourced.
The government has also introduced new laws that sought to make legal processes more efficient and expeditious. New laws have been introduced to regulate the conduct of trials of cases that may be transferred from the tribunal and other national jurisdictions.
The reforms that the country has undertaken have helped to improve the quality of Rwanda’s justice system. Whereas most of the judges who conducted genocide trials prior to recent reforms had no legal education, all the judges of the courts are now qualified lawyers, as are the prosecutors. The bar has grown exponentially in terms of numbers. The skills of the personnel have been further enhanced through various training programs.”
How can the same government turn around and defeat its own efforts? This is yet another instance of contradictions characteristic of the renegades.
There are several instances that show the independence of the judiciary. The most appropriate example involves one of the renegades. The case involved the Military Prosecution Vs one Major Theogene Rudasingwa in a corruption case. The court acquitted him for lack of sufficient evidence. How then would Rudasingwa allege lack of judicial independence?
Democratic governance and the rule of law
Democratic governance is about popular participation, transparency, responsiveness, rule of law, human rights and accountability. The progress that Rwanda has made in all these areas is indisputable. For example, Rwanda has won international recognition for the empowerment of women in policy making organs. Rwanda’s ratio of women parliamentarians is the highest in the world.
The decentralization process in Rwanda is exemplary on the African continent. Through this practice, the people have been empowered to shape their destiny by identifying the development priorities in their communities. Currently, devolution is moving from district to sector level.
Independent research, both external and internal, confirms the progress made in democratic governance. The World Bank annual Governance Reports have consistently attested to the remarkable progress in good governance registered by Rwanda after the 1994 genocide against Tutsi. National scientific research organizations like IRDP also confirm this. What research has the renegades carried out? It is only the renegades and other anti-Rwanda forces that have chosen to close their eyes on the realities in Rwanda that can dare criticize the progress.
Because of the impressive achievements in democratic governance, Rwanda has been internationally recognized as one of the least corrupt countries in the world. Rwanda is rated as one of the most accountable countries as testified by world bodies such as the World Bank. It is Rwanda’s track record in good governance that has led to its integration in East African Community, the Commonwealth and other international bodies.
The wild allegation by the renegades that there is no real opposition party to the RPF is one of the several distortions. Contrary to the renegades’ claim, there are seven functioning opposition parties in Rwanda, most of which date back to the pre-genocide era. Every formed political party has the aim and objective of effecting political change through winning of elections and leading the country.
The fact that these seven opposition parties have not managed to challenge the RPF out of power does not mean that they are not credible opposition parties. Besides, it is not the duty of the incumbent ruling party to strengthen the opposition parties. The renegades are definitely aware of the fact that opposition does not mean confrontation. However, the problem with the renegades is that they do not believe in either the RPF or any opposition that they are not part of.
The renegades accuse the government of persecuting the political opponents. This is nothing new but a recycled allegation from the habitual critics of Rwanda. The commonly cited case is that of Ingabire Victoire, the leader of the yet-to-be registered UDF-INKINGI, a political party formed in exile. Ingabire Victoire has a case to answer relating to genocide denial and revisionism, peddling genocide ideology and alliance with the terrorist FDLR forces operating from the DRC.
Her genocide ideology is further confirmed by her personal assistant, Joseph Ntawangundi, who pleaded guilty to charges of genocide he committed in 1994. Ingabire unashamedly attempted to protect her personal assistant claiming that the charge against him was politically motivated. Ntawangundi has since been committed to prison to serve his sentence. No modern state can tolerate inclusion of extremist political elements, such as Ingabire, into their polity.
The renegades also accuse the government of Rwanda of being behind the death or disappearance of a number of Rwandans. The most recurring case is that of one journalist Jean-Leonard Rugambage. Police investigations led to the arrest of the killers who pleaded guilty to the charge of murder. The culprits confessed that their motive was revenge connected with the 1994 genocide. His case has been extensively explained by the relevant authorities.
What is the basis of the renegades and other detractors in accusing the Rwanda government for having killed the journalist? This is just one example of deaths that the government is being accused of without any evidence.
Marginalization and exclusion of the hutu community
In an attempt to mobilize and win over the support of the Hutu population, the renegades pose as the spokespersons of the Hutu community. Without any shame they accuse the Government of Rwanda for what they termed as the “marginalization and exclusion of the Hutu Community”.
The politics of marginalization and exclusion are antithetical to the philosophy and practice of the government of Rwanda. The government of Rwanda is well known and credited for practicing participatory and inclusive politics. There is no room for marginalization and exclusion of any section of the population in Rwanda and this applies to all the arms of government and institutions and to all levels of the society.
In an attempt to win over a section of the Rwandan population that they claim to speak for, the renegades without any facts to back their statement also claim that “the perception of majority Hutu population is that the Government is dominated by the Tutsi and that the Government discriminates against them”.
One wonders what their source of information is. In spite of the fact that the renegades have come up with a list of over fifty books and articles they claim to have consulted, they cannot indicate their exact source of information. The objective of these renegades is simple and crystal clear. True to their opportunistic and sectarian character, the renegades’ objective is to divide Rwandans along Hutu – Tutsi lines and win some sympathy from the Hutu.
Marginalization and exclusion cannot be looked at in isolation from national policies and laws. The authors deliberately avoid making any reference to at least one national policy or law that excludes or aims to marginalize Hutu. One would have expected the renegades to give examples of economic, political or social policies that deliberately marginalize and exclude some section of the Rwandan community.
Similarly, one would have expected them to mention at least one decision making organ in which all Rwandans are not represented. Rwanda belongs to all Rwandans. The renegades are simply stuck in the old politics of divisionism that takes root in colonialism.
The same politics was subsequently orchestrated by the post-independence neocolonial leadership leading to the 1994 genocide. The current government does not subscribe to the politics of divisionism and exclusion as propagated by the renegades. The allegation should therefore be treated with the utmost contempt it deserves.
National unity and reconciliation
In their characteristic contradictions, the renegades, like all other critics of the government of Rwanda, while cognizant of the positive developments on the ground, including national unity and reconciliation, look for pretexts to continue undermining the government of Rwanda. For example, in their own words they admit that:
“Post-genocide Rwanda has adopted a wide range of policies and undertaken many initiatives (in the justice domain as well as other areas) to promote national unity and reconciliation.
The non-legal initiatives that the government has undertaken with a view to promoting national unity and reconciliation include the restoration and maintenance of public security; the abolition of identity cards classifying citizens by ethnicity and the prohibition of references to ethnicity in official documents; the repatriation and resettlement of more than two million refugees and about a million internally displaced persons; the re-integration of thousands of members of the former government army into the military; the enactment of legislation to punish the propagation of discrimination and sectarianism; the introduction of public service recruitment and management policies based on merit rather than patronage; the introduction of merit-based admission to educational institutions; the establishment of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, the National Human Rights Commission and the Demobilisation and Re-integration Commission; the undertaking of many anti-corruption programs; and the adoption of a national poverty reduction program. Rwanda has also sought to use justice to promote reconciliation. Accountability for the genocide has been pursued through both the ordinary criminal justice system as well as Gacaca Courts”.
The renegades should be reminded that these programmes were never imposed on the government of Rwanda. Rather, they were initiated and effectively executed by the government. These and other programmes not mentioned by the renegades have achieved the intended goal of national unity and reconciliation of Rwandans.
In their document, the renegades further allege that “The majority of the Hutu middle-class that was ousted from power in 1994 remains in exile, un-reconciled to the new political order”. This is once again a clear distortion of facts. The majority of the middle class that the renegades are referring to are living comfortably in Rwanda and thriving in their various professions, including holding senior government positions.
Since 1994 the government has put in place various initiatives and structures with the objective of repatriating refugees. Like the renegades admit, millions of refugees have been repatriated. The few Rwandans that remain outside the country are not necessarily refugees. Some have opted to live in various countries for economic reasons and regularly come to Rwanda where they have investments.
There are others however, who have criminal records and who are afraid to return home to account for their actions. This is the middle class the renegades are referring to. This is the category of people that Kayumba, Karegyeya, Gahima and Rudasingwa have allied with and whom they seek to sanitize. Like the old saying goes “Birds of a feather flock together”.
Another category of the un-reconciled people the renegades cite is “some armed insurgents who continue to wage war against the Rwandan state from their sanctuaries in the Democratic Republic of Congo, sixteen years after the genocide”. The armed insurgents that the renegades are referring to are none other than the notorious ex –FAR and Interahamwe that committed genocide in 1994 and have since continued to wage war against Rwanda.
Some members of ex –FAR have denounced violence, including their top commanders who came back home and are fully integrated in society. Some of them hold senior positions in various government institutions, including the military. For those who have opted for a path of violence, the solution is not reconciliation.
They should be relentlessly pursued and given the treatment they deserve. Do the renegades want the government to reconcile with these criminal elements waging war against Rwanda?
While the Government of Rwanda recognizes that unity and reconciliation is a process, tremendous achievements have been registered in this area. The recent research on the Rwanda reconciliation barometers that was conducted through a national opinion survey jointly carried out by the South African based Institute for Justice and Reconciliation [IJR], and the Rwandan based Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace [IRDP] attests to this.
The research findings on national unity and reconciliation revealed that “… for the majority of indicators used, scores go higher than 80% of positive perceptions, attitudes and behaviours”. This score is by all means a tremendous achievement in a very short period of time that can only be trivialized by the renegades.
To be continued…
Brigadier General Richard Rutatina is the Defence and Security Advisor to H.E The President. Lieutenant Colonel Jill Rutaremara is the Defence and Military Spokesman.