Answer to Minister Joseph Habineza’s article “People should not worry about General Kagame’s Legacy”
Dear Honourable Minister Joseph Habineza,
Thank you for writing on this website which some people call Ingabire supporter because it publishes articles critical of the Rwandan government. Please encourage other Ministers to do so.
I do not have to speculate on your intentions of writing your article as you would speculate on why I am writing mine. We need to respect other people’s views however they may seem unreasonable to one or the other. Even if it were to defend your government it is quite legitimate and your duty as a cabinet minister to do so.
However I would like to comment on some of the issues you raise in your article.
Rating of opposition candidates
You suggest that the candidate are either, adventurers, disconnected from the people, not charismatic, lacking leadership skills, using terrorist threats, their political programmes not known by the general public and not by intellectuals. You also suggest that presenting themselves as presidential candidates is presumptuous and you quote the Kinyarwanda proverb to problem their problem: nta nkumi yigaya “Everybody thinks He/she is capable.”
I would like to point out that self-confidence is a good personal quality than something to ridicule. I am sure that you accepted to take the post of Minister because you were confident that you could do it. I stand to be corrected if you passed any test. I remember that the Vice Chancellor advising us on the graduation ceremony that “having a dream is not a problem; the problem is not having a dream”.
In terms of being disconnected from the people, you mention Ingabire and Habineza. While you do not specify how Habineza is disconnected you mention that Ingabire was out of the country for 16 years. If that is the criteria, I would like to know what credentials many of the present RPF leadership, including Paul Kagame who was out of the country for 30 years, would have to claim being very connected to Rwandans after so many years.
With regard to the political programme, you know as well as I do that political parties other than RPF are not allowed to take their political programme to the grassroots. The official media is not allowed to inform the people about these alternative programmes, foreign media that try to do so e.g. BBC are suspended. Who is wrong? Who fears who?
You accuse Ingabire of advancing the politics of the 60’s of divisionism and to be linked to a terrorist organisation FDLR using a UN report as evidence.
As far as I can recall, she was accused of divisionism because she called for equal justice for all Rwandans and asked that members of the RPF who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity be tried as well as those who committed the heinous crime of genocide against Tutsi. If calling for justice for all sections of the Rwandan community including Hutu is divisionism what is divisionism then? I would be grateful to be advised on this?
With regard to your confidence in UN reports, you might recall that the UN report on the plundering of Congo resources mention Rwanda connection and President is specifically mentioned. Another UN report points out Rwanda arms rebels in the DRC. Another UN reports mentions massacres of thousands of Hutu refugees by the RPF army. I hope your credibility in UN reports will not stop at the report that mentions Paul Kagame and the RPA.
Furthermore you are also aware that the RPF government has been in contact with FDLR and in the process recruited and repatriated some of it commanders who now hold high positions in the army. I would wonder why any other Rwandan cannot speak to those Rwandans who think that the way to go back to their country is through armed force. Why not meet them and convince them of the contrary?
With regards to credential to rule, from what I have read in the biography of Ingabire, she has nothing to envy your leadership in terms of education, experience in administration, knowledge and love of her country, courage and determination. What she might lack is the experience in the use of the means of violence (army, security services). However in a democratic country that should not be a problem, as long as these services are answering to the civil authority.
You mention that “elections are like any other competition, there are rules and guidelines”.
You are absolutely right. However the fundamental question is: who sets them? What is clear is that the RPF has set rules that ensure that it clings to power.
You are comparing your hero Paul Kagame to Mandela, Martin Luther King and Indira Gandhi. While you have your own reasons which I respect for making Kagame your hero, I would like to inform you that what made those people heroes might not apply to yours. Martin Luther King and Indira Gandhi preached non violence whereas your hero uses violence to get what he wants and even threatens to use a hammer against a mosquito that tries to threaten his power
It is common knowledge that, however you may justify it; he came to power through violent means. Nelson Mandela distinguished himself by preaching forgiveness against those who committed atrocities against his people. He served only one 4 year term because he had confidence in his people, your hero wants to serve 23 years ( 1994-2017).
You have heard your hero questioning the meaning of forgiveness and you may recall in his speech in Murambi on the occasion of the commemoration of genocide that his sole regret is “he let millions escape” to Congo in 1994.
Mandela invited the prison warden who was in charge of him to the state Banquet. You may want to ask General Kayumba Nyamwasa, who says saved Kagame twice on the battlefield, his personal experience.
You are right to say that “Mr. Kagame will one day leave power but his legacy will remain” and you are quite right that “It’s an insult to Rwandans to say that after Paul Kagame, Rwanda will no longer exist”. The sooner that day comes the better for Rwandans and for him. There are definitely some positive things he would have done but also a legacy of bad memories: we will have the debt to pay for plundering Congo resources, enemies created on our borders and in particular Congo where our invasions are partly responsible for the death of around 6 million Congolese, economic disparities in the country and entrenched ethnic divisions.
You are also completely right in asserting that: “People should know that resilience is characteristic of Rwandans”, that “We are a people with passion and determination”. Those qualities will make that day come true and I sincerely pray every day that it comes through the means used by my heroes Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
I am worried by your final statement that “(Paul Kagame) will never hand over the leadership of Rwanda to people who have no vision for their country, who want to use violence as a shortcut to power, who are not connected to Rwandans.”
This conclusion confirms what is said all along that we are dealing with a dictatorship: it will be Kagame and not people to decide who succeeds him. And this reminds me of the following Rwandan anecdotal. When young men asked a young lady “why are you always rude young lady?”, she answered: “how I am rude you bloody fools?”Bati wa mukobwa we ko ushira isoni? Ati nshira isoni nte mwa buhungu mwe?
I join you Honourable Minister to say: Long live Rwanda, her people and her friends.