Many are still trying to figure out how the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi) has continued do defy the odds and shed off the myth that African revolutions do not last, and that if they do, they deviate from their ideological principles.
Among those still in the dark is a “Special Correspondent” of Rwanda Today, a publication of the Nation Media Group, who penned an article titled; “Tracking Rwanda liberation icons who fell out of the limelight” that appeared on July 5, 2015.
It lists a number of former RPF officials who no longer occupy the posts they used to. The author overplays their speculative adventure that only brings out their ignorance on what makes Rwanda and the RPF tick.
The RPF has no untouchable individuals because of their contribution to the liberation. There are no sacred cows in the RPF as many have found at their expense.
As President Paul Kagame, who is also the Chairman of RPF, recently said, the RPF is a dynamic organisation. There are no permanent or exclusive positions; changes are bound to happen from time to time. It all depends on three key principles: Efficiency, accountability and delivery.
Because it is very particular with its image of transparency and meritocracy, the RPF deploys, it does not appoint; someone is appointed to occupy an empty seat, but deployments are there to serve a particular purpose.
This may sound complicated to the uninitiated, but the RPF is like a machine as mentioned earlier. Defective parts are replaced by those that conform to their functions in order to improve performance.
Where the RPF diverts from the common practice of many when it comes to deployments is that it does not base on political patronage; deployments are based on merit and current needs.
The RPF has a large pool of qualified cadres from which it deploys. It is not the individual that matters, but the work ahead that has to be accomplished.
According to RPF Secretariat records, over 4.5 million Rwandan adults are active members of RPF, thus, a handful individuals cannot hold the party hostage. One wonders whether the mentioned cadres who lost “limelight” positions, was a fault of the system or a result of their shortcomings!
Many tend to wonder what the fate of former old guards in government is. Some retire from political limelight, many remain key behind-the-scene actors, while others are deployed elsewhere, including within RPF structures.
The RPF has a way of handling issues. Even those replaced or dismissed for one reason or another have a mechanism through which they channel their grievances.
This internal transparent mechanism of addressing issues is not something new, but has been part of the RPF’s way of doing things, even in the thick of the struggle.
But that does not mean that the party’s leadership is a band of angels; it does not tolerate indiscipline and woe unto you if you intentionally take a false turn that goes against the party’s values.
When the RPF deploys its cadres, it expects them to perform according to their given mandate, if they fail they are replaced.
But what is most unusual about the RPF’s strict discipline, is the ease by which it deals with its cadres who have gone astray.
Many attribute it to the fact that some senior cadres tend to accumulate egos, but once in the cold, suddenly realise that they are actually human and take to the contrition route.
Rwanda’s revolution took a very unique path. Its ideology was not based on individuals but on shared values.
The RPF’s capture of power did not change its internal mechanisms; it did not have to change course to fit into a new environment of running a country instead of a small rebel group; it was already a well-oiled machine.
Many journalists who visited the RPF during the liberation war always came back surprised by what they saw. Where they expected to find a rag-tag band of rebels, they found a disciplined well organised outfit, a far cry from other rebel groups on the continent.
Every department of the RPF operated like clockwork; every cog in the wheel was in its right place.
Its armed wing, the RPA, exerted an efficient command and control mechanism over the men in arms, and after its victory, it avoided revenge episodes, despite many of its men finding family members among the over one million dead.
Keeping under control an enraged and bereaved soldier with a gun in his hands was one of the most outstanding feats.
What makes the RPF stand out is that, unlike other victorious armed movements, it chose to share power with other existing political parties, yet it was not obliged to.
And even if it invited other parties on board, decisions are reached by consensus even though the RPF is supposed to be the ‘engine’ of the government.
In the past 20 years, new blood has continually been pouring in, whether in the government or party, the end result being to ensure that it continues on the same path.