1. In his article that appeared in the World Today.org of July 2011 titled “Rwanda: A new Rwanda? Mark Naftalin paints a picture of a country he calls Rwanda led by Paul Kagame which left people in Rwanda, situated in Eastern African, wondering whether there could be another Rwanda found in his part of the world led by another Pau Kagame.
Naftalin’s article is full of contradictions and incoherence characteristic of “copy and paste syndrome” seen among many lazy students and researchers.
2. The first paragraph of his article, which he lifted from previous writings on Rwanda, aptly describes the real picture of this Rwanda led by the Paul Kagame we know. As he puts it: “Rwanda has made dramatic transformation in its fortunes.
Rwanda aspires to obtain middle income status by 2020, boasts impressive economic growth, social services, state institutions, infrastructure development, Universal Primary education, gender equality, low corruption, social development and macro-economic stability; …ranked by World Bank the tenth easiest country worldwide within which to start business- seven places higher than Britain, and just one below the United States, and in terms of ease of doing business is ranked higher than a number of European Union (EU) countries;…and most welcomed of all is that Rwanda has not, unlike some of its neighbours, relapsed into inter-ethnic fighting”.
This is not an assessment by Mark Naftalin, but rather a statement of facts on the ground and the reality of the Rwanda led by Paul Kagame and recognized as such by the international community, the international institutions including the World Bank, but above all by all Rwandans.
3. Mark Naftalin, after showing the readers the real picture of Rwanda quoting the renowned institutions, then in typical “copy and paste” fashion starts to lift from some articles on the internet disseminated by those who have declared themselves enemies of Rwanda.
The objective of their disseminations as they have put it in their strategies is to tarnish the image of the Rwandan Government and of President Paul Kagame.
From the second paragraph to the end of his article, Naftalin simply lifts everything from the so called “Rwanda Briefing” that was authored and disseminated by the notorious Rwandan fugitives and wanted criminals Kayumba Nyamwasa, Patrick Karegeya, Rudasingwa and Gahima.
This is how lazy researchers like Mark Naftalin position themselves as experts by simply feeding on the internet garbage.
Some of his contradictions, incoherence and distorted facts will be highlighted.
4. Naftalin opens his article as simply a prophet of doom, where his main heading; “Still Viewed as the Darling of the West, Rwanda’s Development Remains Precarious”.
Rwanda cannot simply be a darling of the west over nothing. Like all darlings, there is what attracts the west to fall in love with Rwanda.
Indeed Naftalin forgets that Rwanda is a darling of all countries in the world, including all African countries as was seen in the recent swearing of the President where around twenty African Heads of State and governments were present.
In his opening sentence, Naftalin himself admits that “Rwanda has seen a dramatic transformation in its fortunes” and goes further to cite Rwanda’s achievements in all fields in the last 17 years.
5. Rwanda’s development in the last 17 years on all fronts- democratization, economic and social development, peace and security and many other areas has been described as “Rwanda’s Miracle”.
Our argument has been that Rwanda’s achievements in a very short time are not a miracle but rather a result of the country’s focused and visionary leadership and the hard work and determination of all Rwandans to move forward.
This is what makes Rwanda the darling of not only the west, but of all countries in the world and this is what Naftalin absurdly describes as precarious.
6. Rwanda’s development since 1994 is the implementation of the RPF/A programme and objectives that it set out to fight for when it waged a liberation war in 1990 - to build a new Rwanda.
The development can therefore not be precarious because the Rwandans and the leadership which transformed Rwanda from ashes to the current “miraculous” state are still there and are still determined to take the country and its people to greater heights.
Naftalin should not therefore be surprised or question the new Rwanda; it’s the Rwandans who have made it and there are still determined to make it even much better.
7.The rest of the allegations in Naftalin’s article which he simply lifts from the “Rwanda Briefing” have been well responded to in various writings and President Kagame’s many interviews.
The only remaining response is to invite Naftalin to come to Rwanda and see for himself what is happening on the ground if he wants to claim to be a researcher other than indiscriminately lifting biased material from the internet.
8.The wild allegations and the so called major challenges that Naftalin puts forward that if not addressed could destabilize progress are simply those that have always been advanced by Rwanda’s enemies, their allies and sympathizers.
This casts doubt on where exactly among these categories Naftalin lies. The things he mentions: nascent private sector; limited direct foreign investment; inequitable distribution of resources; concentration of resources and wealth in urban areas; subsistence agriculture in rural areas; restricting political rights; and freedom of expression and assembly; the genocide ideology law; the media law; imprisoning journalists and political opponents; and many others have become a song in the circles of anti government groups.
9. This unchanging song has increasingly made its singers ridiculous because it does not reflect the reality on the ground. It’s indeed ridiculous for Naftalin to accuse Rwanda of having a nascent private sector, and having majority of our rural population living on subsistence agriculture.
The New Rwanda is only 17 years old and if Naftalin bothered to carry out the real research not the “copy and paste” type, he would have discovered that Rwanda’s private sector has been growing at “a miracle” speed and Rwanda’s rural population has been increasingly graduating from subsistence farming to export agriculture and entrepreneurship.
Recently President Kagame was opening one of the settlements constructed for the very poor Rwandans in Northern Rwanda where each house had four bed rooms, water, dual- source electricity- both solar and biogas; and each family had been given a Friesian cow. Some big men and women from the capital were commenting that Rwandan rural people are enjoying a better standard of living than those in the capital Kigali.
This is what is going on in all rural areas in Rwanda which contrasts with Naftali’s internet information.
The media is now under total control of the media houses themselves. On restriction of registration of political parties, Naftalin should tell us any of the advanced democracies which have more political parties than Rwanda including his own country.
This shows that Naftalin is lagging behind Rwanda’s fast developments.
10. The most ridiculous argument that Naftalin lifted from “Rwanda Briefing” is that the present government is no different from Habyarimana’s regime.
This simply exposes his bankruptcy as a researcher and academic. Naftalin admits himself that “Habyarimana allowed racist ideologues and ideologies to flourish; and by contrast President Kagame says he is determined not to allow racist discourses to re-emerge- precisely because of what happened under Habyarimana’s watch”.
How do you equate someone who promoted and planned genocide with another one who stopped genocide and proscribes genocide ideology?
11. He further admits that “Rwanda has seen a dramatic transformation in its fortunes”. This dramatic transformation is simply a comparison of where Rwanda came from during Habyarimana’s regime to the current “miracle” state ushered in by President Kagame.
This clearly demonstrates Naftalin’s contradictions and incoherencies in his article, unless he is talking of another Rwanda led by another Kagame in another part of the world.
12. Naftalin concludes his article again with another prophesy of doom, “…future instability and even violence in a beleaguered country will be ever more likely to recur”. Naftalin had earlier stated that “…most welcome of all is that Rwanda has not unlike some of its neighbours, relapsed into inter-ethnic fighting”.
Naftalin should know that what made Rwanda not to relapse into internal conflicts in the last 17 years is now stronger than ever before, therefore its only Naftalin and his prophesies that will be doomed.
The author is the Head of J2- Military Intelligence in Rwanda