Consensus among commentators on the change with stability debate seem to agree that, the change we need should be contextual otherwise we risk fundamental reversal of the all the gains our country has registered under the exemplary leadership of President Kagame.
Their anxiety over this change hinges on the person of President Kagame and through this, his achievements which we as a country cannot afford to lose. Not now, not ever! To most Rwandans, he is unique in every sense of the word. It is this very uniqueness of character that has defined everything he has done for Rwanda, that no other CV would be close.
To most Rwandans, his heroic actions, starting from the war against the past sectarian and genocidal regime, a war that was first lost on day one, only to restart at his initiative, distinguished him beyond comparability. Those who recall the process of that very war against all odds one can imagine, saw him distinguished, not only among his peers, but also made him indispensable to our cause.
That he commanded and won a war against the combined forced of ex-far, and their French backers with all the resources at their disposal, human and material (financial), was a humanly impossible mission by all standards. But this marked the beginning of his impeachable service to his country, and to many who had lost this very war in every sense, he remains an icon of our hope. A hope against hope then, and a hope against hope post 2017 to most Rwandans.
The environment was even more hostile, given the indoctrination Rwandans in the country had received from the then leadership and hatred sowed between Tutsis and Hutus, was extremely to imagine how a war would be waged, later on worn under such conditions.
They also factor in his visionary leadership that enabled the country to turn around in a record time, and register the highest transformation of any country in recent times. His integrity and objectivity in the nation building has earned him a character that, no other Rwandan CV can ever match.
That no Rwandan at least among our current leadership matches his qualities, and more so the fact that, most that have worked with him, have fallen far short of the aforementioned qualities and thus achievements, makes the envisaged change even more chilly to most. That any other would be president will lack his clout, as well as moral standing not only among Rwandans but international friends and partners alike, causes anxiety that this very debate was bound to generate. More importantly, the fact that would be replacement will certainly lack his overwhelming legitimacy and thus respect he commands among Rwandans low, and mighty as well as among our foreign friends, puts to question the entire homework of change with
stability and sustainability.
What is even more intriguing is that, even among those that have worked closely with him is the fact, no one can put a cross a name that is credible enough to meet qualities of the person for this job. Now, if even among such group, no names have emerged to take up his position, where will the country get a replacement?
Here, any change that meets the formula, will have to have similar qualities named above, and if so far none does, most admit that, the change is not worth it, at the very least not for the sake of change.
For such will not fit into the formula, and if it does not, then such a change will only reverse/destroy all that has been achieved at an incredibly high price any country has ever paid. Again not now, and not ever.
The President has made clear his wish to retire come 2017, but by the same token, it could be the wish of the Rwandans to request him to lead them, which will be up to him to decide. What he has not pronounced clearly though is: if Rwandans requested him to do so, how would he handle this. One cannot judge his reaction, as this is his exclusive prerogative.
The issue therefore should be to come up with a formula that allows us to continue with our pace of development (social and economic), unity and reconciliation, security, equality, and unity of purpose as a nation.
That our leadership under President Kagame has been able to tame most evils typical of other African systems such as corruption, nepotism, clanism, cronyism, big man mentality, and entitlement is no mean feat. But these values are work in progress and unless these become cultural norms/virtues of our national identity, they remain as vulnerable as the country’s progress itself. They can only be sustained for our betterment if our change is focused and understands the essence of these values. The change that can sustain these and scale them up will be acceptable to Rwandans void of simplistic judgment and emotive.
Thus, what is best for Rwanda and Rwandans given our context, past and present, is the rough text for our political homework. Any other formula will serve other environments, and that will spell disaster for our country.
Our change has to be country specific in the extreme sense of the term as our environment has had extremes too, that any other change/formula will not simply work. Ours is a country out of emergency not yet over it as pointed out earlier. Wounds; be they social as well as economic are just starting to heal, and this is a process. A process that can only be sustained further by sober leadership; for agents of the same past horrendous past are still alive and kicking, and we can only lose sight of this if we have short memories.
Most Rwandans don’t and will not. In fact, it is these very negative elements, especially from Diaspora, who wish The President to leave in 2017. These include past political failures and rejects of our system, remnants of the Interehamwe militia, and their off-springs, who will be haunted by the blood of our one million compatriots who died not for what wrongs they did, but rather for what they happened to be.
Such groups cannot represent anybody except themselves, nor can they decide the destiny of 12 million law abiding Rwandans building their country, no matter how loud they seem to be; in the agitation of reversal formula, using all sorts of communications available today.
These are outliers of our society and are not stakeholders in the current political dispensation.
They lost all moral right possible as Rwandans; and can only speak to unsuspecting foreigners who hardly have an idea of their past.
What is ironic though is that, proponents of uncertain change are either non-Rwandans, misguided Rwandans, or Rwandans who had a hand in our tragic past as pointed above, and have nothing to lose in our ‘tragic’ future if allowed to shape it. But Rwandans were taught by disastrous past experience that, we alone had and have to save ourselves. It is the same Rwandans who saved ourselves from ourselves, when our ‘friends’ left us to kill ourselves. Who then has the audacity to tell us the change we need? All lost this very right when all willfully lost their obligations to Rwandans at the hour of most need in 1994. These are now the same people that have the courtesy to tell Rwandans and The President for that matter what to do! More insulating asking The President when to leave! For what and for where? This is the same President who not only saved Rwandans from Rwandans but more so did what seemed humanly impossible by leading a liberation struggle that is unparalleled in African history.
As pointed out in the earlier article, we owe present to the patriotic Rwandans who denied self to enable the rest to live. Much as our history has been shaped by the sectarian leadership from as early as 1959 when colonial legacy under strong marriage with Christianity, systems that defended and shaped divisionism of a people that had lived in harmony for ages, and hence planted seeds of sporadic genocides that characterised Rwanda from 1959, 1974, 1980s and to its epic of genocide in 1994, such past history has a high chance of repeating itself, for perpetrators of the same have it as unfinished business, and they are many. It is this tragic past, probable loss of our hopeful present, that makes our political homework extremely difficult.
To be continued…
The writer is the Chairman Board of Directors of the Crystal Ventures Group.