Remote controlled political actors (Part I)

Recently when President Kagame met African youth, one of them was curious to know the secret behind his success to achieve the wonderful milestones of his leadership. In response, the President gave a humble answer, attributing his success to the many trying times he and his comrades have passed  through that shaped them and gave them the willpower that enabled Rwanda to be what it is today.

Recently when President Kagame met African youth, one of them was curious to know the secret behind his success to achieve the wonderful milestones of his leadership.

In response, the President gave a humble answer, attributing his success to the many trying times he and his comrades have passed  through that shaped them and gave them the willpower that enabled Rwanda to be what it is today.

Indeed, Rwandans have been shaped by their history in many ways. Some Rwandans, who lived in refugee camps for over 30 years only got back their human dignity after untold sacrifice in blood and suffering; others are the genocide survivors who stared at death in the face; yet others after the war of liberation took themselves to be the losers and imagined they could only survive by fleeing the country.

Many were surprised that the new leadership not only wanted to repatriate and reintegrate them but regarded them as equal citizens who should have no fear of revenge attacks from anyone.

Those three categories of Rwandans, once separated by their history (also deshumanised by the Habyarimana regime), today see themselves united by one destiny and cannot tolerate whomever would desire to create disorder and insecurity once again.

All these Rwandans at the same time have a lot of hope for a better tomorrow, for themselves and their progeny due to the current leadership that has changed a lot in their lives.

This being confirmed by a recent survey which ranks Rwanda  number two in  Africa as a country where citizen are satisfied and have confidence in the future. Those who used to be the poorest of the poor for example; today are beneficiaries of the one-cow program and for the first time in their lives; their families are drinking milk. Once barren land is now productive thanks to the policy of providing fertilizers and selected seeds to farmers.

And for the first time in Rwanda’s history, fewer women will die while giving birth, for every district now two or more ambulances.

Education for all and easy access to basic healthcare has become a reality. And at unequalled speed, electricity is reaching new and remote areas like Ndiza and Mutara. The Ubudehe program has enabled the have-nots to access government microcredit funds and many of them have improved their lives, just to name a few.

What all this shows is that for the first time, Rwandans are witnessing a leadership devoted to the betterment of their lives. For the first time Rwandans have witnessed ministers, mayors and colonels going to jail to account for their mismanagement of public funds or public property.

For the first time, they have witnessed military helicopters taking off not to open fire on them but to fly to remote areas to save lives of disaster victims. For the first time they have witnessed a President standing in sweltering sun and untiringly listen and offer solutions to endless queues of ordinary people in different areas of the country.

And now they can be proud that Rwanda can never be known again as a “small, landlocked and poor” country, but as a country that competes with others and that is listened to.

All this is a strong bond between the leadership and the led who believe that the better life they have will be safeguarded by the same leadership as opposed to gambling with uncertainty.

This bond between leader and led became the impenetrable wall to all those who oppose the current leadership for they have failed to find legitimate criticism of that leadership.

Furthermore if you analyze the so-called opposition one by one you find that they lack a unifying factor necessary for a common and credible political project. A deeper analysis reveals incoherence and even mysterious alliances.     

- What has brought about the alliance between Kayumba Nyamwasa and Victoire Ingabire?

- What about the sudden political comeback of the supposedly retired Faustin Twagiramungu
- How come that after the lengthy silence of Patrick Karegeya he has abruptly broken the silence with a declaration of war and who will fight it?

- How is it possible that Paul Rusesabagina, the Hollywood-created politician has stepped aside in favour of the less-known Ingabire, and what purpose does this serve?

-Why is President Kagame’s record suddenly under attack from all sides?

1. Is the strange alliance of Kayumba and Ingabire remote controlled?

In 1993, I lived in Gikondo and one of my neighbors was Gasore Rukara Pierre, a Hutu extremist who was a director in the Ministry of Planning (known as MINIPLAN). We used to talk with Rukara and one of his frequent assertions was that “Hutus and Tutsis cannot work together for the simple reason that their interests are in permanent conflict”, and that it would be better for the Tutsi minority to accept Hutu majority rule and that way the latter would guarantee the former peace and security.

Even after he fled to Nairobi he wrote a book in French in which he was developing a theory of what he called les alliances contre nature (alliance against nature, or unnatural alliance).

In that book he supposedly demonstrated that it was a big mistake for the MDR Hutu political party to believe it could form a union or alliance with the PL or RPF described as Tutsi political parties.

For him it would be better for Hutu political parties like MRND, CDR and MDR to come together to oppose Tutsi political parties in open elections after which government  posts and positions would be distributed according to the results of the polls.

Obviously this scenario would indicate a confusion between elections and a census of the ethnicities. I remember the last day I saw him in Nairobi was the day he offered me a copy of his book, adding cynically “enda shahu uzagende usome witonze bimwe nakubwiraga ntubyunve ariko nkaba nizera ko utangiye kubyunva kuva aho Twagiramungu abatutsi bamuhindutse agahunga shishi itabona.“

(Young man, take this and read carefully what I used to tell you and you naively failed to understand but that now I am sure you have begun to, especially at this very moment when Twagiramungu had to flee precipitously after the Tutsis turned against him).

This Hutu extremist ideology - characterized by generalization and attribution of a supposed evil to a group of people as if it is something they and their progeny inherit - is typical of all extremists including the now political darling of Western rights groups, Victoire Ingabire.

I also remember, while I was a refugee in Belgium around 1997-98 and we were watching the news on a Belgian French-language channel, RTBF the reportage on the war of the infiltrators in the north of Rwanda.

The journalist reporting on the war interviewed the then RDF chief of staff Kayumba Nyamwasa trying to pin him on the alleged culpability of the RDF in indiscriminate retaliation against civilians and infiltrators.

I remember in his response Kayumba was clear on the difficulty the RDF had distinguishing civilians and infiltrators while the latter were being sheltered by their families and friends and he cited the example of seeming farmers the RDF passed through who would then turn and shoot them in the back.

He added with apparent anger “We will shoot them until they lose their appetite to kill.” This answer that would be normal and common to every fighter distressed many among the Hutu refugees at this time strongly worried about the fate of their relatives, mainly those originating from the zone of battle in the north, in the former Gisenyi and Ruhengeri prefectures. Until now, as the many emails they posted on different blogs after he escaped an attempt  on his life in South Africa show,  for them , Kayumba has a permanent fatwa on him and they would crucify him anywhere they would get their hands on him.

That I began with the awful opinions of Gasore Rukara and followed with an example of the intense hatred demonstrated by the Hutu milieu for Kayumba does not at all mean that I’m of the view that Ingabire the Hutu and KAYUMBA the Tutsi cannot share a vision, most likely a distorted one.

However, I would like the reader to meditate on the following: KAYUMBA who had a role in defeating Hutu extremism and who is regarded by some in the Hutu milieu as a Tutsi extremist, yet it is obvious that him and INGABIRE have never met how is it suddenly that now they are talking the same talk and seem to share a distorted vision?

And how is it that this indiscreet woman INGABIRE after mocking those who lost their loved ones in the Genocide; after the provocation of visiting the grave of Dominique MBONYUMUTWA whom she called a “hero of the revolution”; after vowing that she would free Hutus of what she calls the yoke of “Tutsi rule”, what can these two individuals surely have in common, if not political opportunism of the most cynical type?

Can they imagine anyone can be taken in by their assertions that they are working for Rwandans? Is it something comprehensible that a “Tutsi extremist” can turn into a “Hutu extremist” and vice versa?

We shall come back to these perplexing issues in conclusion of this article.

2.What about the sudden political comeback of the supposedly retired Faustin TWAGIRAMUNGU?

Twagiramungu is someone who loves to hear his own voice; he loves to talk to the extent that even if he has nothing to say, he will say loudly that he has nothing to say.

Neither does he like to discuss meaningful issues such as the economy, agriculture, education et cetera. He has a distaste for such serious things and he is quickly bored when they are the topic. We, who know him from long ago know him as someone who dabbles in hypothetical analysis and he loves to confront, to insult, to backbite and to ridicule.

In light of this, those who know him have been wondering about his silence. They have been wondering where he disappeared to after the 2003 presidential elections, and have also been wondering whether he would always await presidential election season to pop up again.

In light of this, they were wondering whether his silence wasn’t a betrayal of those who voted for him since he abandoned them with no promise of a program or a way forward.

In short no one could understand how someone who portrayed himself as a leader of the opposition and who never lets anyone forget his very brief stint as prime minister at the same time is capable of completely disappearing from the political scene upon defeat.

But recently all of a sudden he is very active, speaking up everywhere, looking like someone that is a puppet of hidden forces. This is food for thought.

We who know Twagiramungu know him as someone who deeply hated former president Habyarimana whom he bore a grudge against for having killed his father in law Gregoire Kayibanda, and for having humiliated him personally by jailing him after sacking him as the chief of the public transport company STIR.

Also Twagiramungu knows very well how the Habyarimana clan hated him, from the president’s brothers in law Zigiranyirazo, Rwabukumba and Sagatwa as well as their sister, Habyarimana’s wife Agatha Kanziga.

He has not forgotten how many times these individuals knelt in front of Habyarimana asking for Twagiramungu’s head. Now, since Twagiramungu is a well-known hater and someone who bears grudges how is it now that declaring Agatha innocent of any crimes, especially since Twagiramungu is on record in different MDR meetings before the genocide saying Habyarimana, his wife and her brothers should one day account for killings and civil strife that were a prelude to the genocide.

Twagiramungu also knows how much he is hated by members of the former CDR, MRND and MDR Power consider him a traitor who “sold Rwanda to the RPF” and who have always regarded him as someone lacking a common vision (whatever that was) and who is only interested in personal gain.

Up to now these views about Twagiramungu are deeply rooted in the Hutu extremist milieu as they recently questioned him on how he still very easily gets his Rwandan passport and he could easily sell his two houses in Kigali and even get a recommendation of the Rwandan government enabling him to do his consultancies (obviously extremists do not understand that a Rwandan, even a self-proclaimed opponent of the government, like Twagiramungu has rights and he or she can exercise them).

This man knows all these facts yet he ignores them and goes against what he used to publicly preach in an effort to attract the support and sympathy of the same extremists who vowed to killed him, and who in fact killed his family.

Could it be possible that he might have “confessed” to have betrayed the Hutus and now is overzealously working to gain the forgiveness of the extremists? What happened to turn Twagiramungu the eager witness against genocide perpetrators into a genocide denier now.

It would be very simplistic to attribute this about turn simply to the legendary opportunism of Twagiramungu. For us who have known him a long time and his nature as a stubborn, arrogant and non-conciliatory person, his new move to Hutu extremism must be driven by other actors as we will demonstrate it in the conclusion of this article.     

To be continued…

The author is a trained lawyer. He has previously served as the Deputy Ombudsman and Advisor to the Prime Minister. He is currently the Director General of the Automobile Guarantee Fund.