Commentary:The “tragedy” of african opposition leaders

Whereas there are issues politicians may disagree on, national values like unity, patriotism and security take precedence irrespective of political beliefs. There are many things that have kept Africans in misery but the most outstanding may be the people who are called or call themselves African opposition politicians.

Whereas there are issues politicians may disagree on, national values like unity, patriotism and security take precedence irrespective of political beliefs.

There are many things that have kept Africans in misery but the most outstanding may be the people who are called or call themselves African opposition politicians.

Many want political power at any cost including human lives but when they get it, their activities and policies mirror or are worse than those of the people they “opposed”.

Where opposition politicians are not individuals who have fallen out with the incumbents, they are “other” tribesmen who want to “eat also”.

In many African countries the thrust of opposition politicians is to vilify and demonize the incumbents without mentioning what and how they will do better. All across the continent where there are opposition politicians the trend is the same with one group trying to unseat another or a new group performing worse than the former.

In many non-African countries, political parties bring together people who share beliefs, ideals and how to achieve them.

Members agree on what is expected of each other and their elected leaders but in Africa opposition political leaders are individuals who want to settle a score with the incumbent or tribesmen and women who think it is their turn to rule.

This marks the biggest difference between African and non African opposition leaders; whereas non-African opposition parties propose ideas and policies on the economy, foreign policy, social security, education, retirement and pension, agriculture, taxation, environment etc  to their electorates, their African counterparts accuse the incumbents for the country’s woes without proposing alternatives or heap blame for their tribesmen and women’s misery, including persistent droughts and unproductive soils, on the incumbent.

In non-African politics, political parties are not individual enterprises but groups of people who share the same ideas in the context of national values, beliefs and history.

Whereas there are issues politicians may disagree on, national values like unity, patriotism and security take precedence irrespective of political beliefs.

Politicians take responsibility and are answerable for their actions and those of their followers. People are members of parties because they believe in the values and policies they espouse. 

The opposition politicians in Rwanda, if they merit the title by their actions and policies, have shown and continue to show how the immaturity of political opposition is in the country and many standards in the whole of Africa.

Whereas there are ten registered political parties, nine joined hands to share in the reconstruction and fostering of unity of Rwandans through the government of national unity, the tenth PS-Imberakuri declared its intention to “fight” the incumbent leadership.

Since its registration Imberakuri has been characterized by internal fighting between its president on the one hand and the general secretary and other members on the other; can only imagine what would happen if the group was to ascend to power.

The last time the party met it was total chaos as one group barricaded themselves inside the meeting hall while another group fought tool and nail to enter.

The blooded metallic door and broken pieces of glass that littered the entrance to the meeting hall will remain in the minds of those who witnessed the aftermath of the party meeting.

Fights apart, the party is yet to tell the people of Rwanda how and what they will do to help Rwandans overcome their developmental challenges.

The same infighting has bedevilled the-yet-to-be-registered green party.

One wonders what will happen when it is registered and licensed to operate nationwide.

Ms Victoire Ingabire, the presidential hopeful had lived in the Netherlands for sixteen years until she decided to return to Rwanda and one would expect her, on her return, to bring along elements of the democratic dispensation characteristic of the Dutch system different from the poisoned ethnic politics she left in Rwanda but it seems she spent more time fundraising and speaking for and on behalf of Democratic Forces for the Liberation Rwanda (FDLR) in all its variants from RDR to FDLR-FOCA to observe how her hosts conducted their politics.

She started her political career by announcing her unhappiness that the Kigali genocide memorial centre commemorated the memory of one ethnic group implying that if there was genocide then the memory of the victims and their tormentors should be commemorated together.

Like many people for whom the memory of the genocide and their numbers is an academic issue “common in that part of Africa” and who are eager to say there were “double genocides” Ingabire showed insensitivity uncharacteristic of a potential leader of a country that in the throes the worst manmade brutality of modern history.

An opposition leader with an eye for the highest office in Rwanda, Ms Ingabire chose to visit convicted genocide criminals in hospitals and had the audacity to tell them that she was going to save them.

Saving convicted criminals of the slaughter of families, toddlers and breastfeeding babies included, means much more than what was said.

Ingabire will either set the criminals free; meaning that they were either unjustly judged or there was no case against them in the first place and the genocide was against Tutsi was a “political genocide” as she has stated before whatever political genocide means and irrespective whether it is acceptable.

Assuming she wins the elections and sets the convicts free, what will Ingabire tell the survivors who lost their dear ones?

 What will she tell people who might have voted for her on the premise of the setting the convicts free? Many released genocide criminals have been involved in the murder of survivors as a way of stopping them from giving further evidence or revenge for the time they spent in jail on account of their testimony; how will Ingabire stop such killings?

Does the promise of setting free convicts further the reconciliation process in Rwanda?

An honest politician with an eye on the highest office, Ingabire would appreciate the achievements and strides Rwanda has made in the last 16 years in the area of reconciliation and particularly the abolition of the death sentence for which many of the people she promised salvation are benefiting, the economy, peace and security, education, health, corruption, health, infrastructure, urbanization and many other sectors the challenges notwithstanding and then proposed to the people of Rwanda how she might further them or achieve them faster and better.

Whereas during her stay in the Netherlands Ingabire had the liberty to say and publish on her website and other forms public media outright lies, misinformation and heap abuses on the people, the government and leadership of Rwanda, there are laws which are keeping the fragile reconciliation and peace in the country which she must operate under and the special treatment and esteem institutions in the country have accorded her in the name of opposition politician must be rescinded if  only for the sake of peace and stability Rwandans have worked for and deserve. 

If any country anywhere could afford confrontational and ethnic politics, Rwanda cannot. The country’s history and stability do not allow confrontation and violence but debates and ideas but unfortunately these have been slow in coming if at all they are there.

Rwanda needs ideas on how to strengthen the economy, the education, health and other areas of the country’s wellbeing and not fights in political meetings and inflammatory statements that are bound to retard or reverse the country’s social cohesion and reconciliation.

There are foreign country’s representations and foreign groups in Rwanda which either because of lack of understanding of the country’s history or misinformation are eager to make demands for and in the name of or have turned into mouthpieces of so-called “opposition groups”: after all, they represent donor countries or have the ears of donors countries.

These groups and individuals should be given a guided tour of Kicukiro-Nyanza genocide memorial centre. When the genocide began, many people ran for protection to ETO-Kicukiro where part of the Belgian UNAMIR contingent was stationed.

When the Belgians pulled out of Rwanda, they and the French evacuated everyone who was Caucasian and their pets including one bulldog but fired shots to scare of Rwandans for whom the Belgian contingent was their last opportunity for survival in face of killers lurking outside the college perimeter fence.

The more than 2,000 victims’ remains at Nyanza shall remain a reminder of how much some of these people who are championing “opposition” in Rwanda value Rwandans and Africans in general.

It would serve some of these people to visit to the memorial centre at least to witness what their predecessors left behind.

Given the opportunity to choose between donations and life, I believe many Rwandans would choose the latter after all they do not have to imagine the possibility; they lived it.