President Kagame sets criteria to be Rwandan: check your identity!
On the 16th anniversary of genocide in Rwanda the President of Rwanda declared in his speech to the people who attended the ceremony that “Rwandans are as free, happy, proud of themselves, as they have never been in their lives.” The same view is held but expressed in different words by foreigners who support the regime.
If that is the criteria by which Paul Kagame defines Rwandans then many people who call themselves Rwandans need to have a rethink on their identity. It is quite clear many will found themselves excluded or feel denied their Rwandan identity. One can believe that the 60% of Rwandans live under poverty line would declare themselves to be free, as happy and proud as ever.
Who could be those happy and proud Rwandans?
President Kagame would be the ideal Rwandan that fitted his description.
Rising from the humble beginning of a refugee, an average secondary school leaver to military intelligence officer, to replacing a charismatic and popular military genius General Fred Rwigema to be Head of State and fly in the high tech plane here below, there are all reasons why Paul Kagame would feel, “happy and proud as ever” and “as free as ever “to call any decent person who challenges his views “political hooligan” or “human waste”.
Here is one of a pair of jets that President Kagame is alleged to possess.
The pair of Bombardier Global Express BD-700 jets – with a new price tag of $50-million each – was acquired in 2003 and 2008, respectively. Both are available for charter when not needed by the Rwandan government.
Aviation experts say the XRS is capable of flying “halfway around the world without refueling”. It is one of the biggest business-class jets available.
Other people that would meet his criteria are fellow Rwandans who doubled their income since 1996. According to UNDP: The average income of the top 20% of the population has almost doubled since 1996, while the income of the bottom 20% has remained stagnant in the past 10 years.
According to the World Bank, before the genocide in 1994, 39% of national income went to the 20% (predominantly Hutu) richest and 10% to the 20% (predominantly Hutu) poorest. At present, 51% of national income goes to the (now predominantly Tutsi) 20% richest and just 5% to 20 % (still predominantly Hutu] poorest: http://info.worldbank.org/etools/docs/library/111328/Case%20Studies.pdf
The biggest group of these happy Rwandans is said to be composed of people from refugee camps in Uganda, speaking English and are wise enough not to question the views of the great Leader. This sin cost people like General Kayumba Nyamwasa, Colonel Karegeya, General Muhire and Karake Karenzi losing their seat from the banquet table and being labelled human waste.
What about those Rwandans who feel excluded by Kagame’s criteria!
It is my very considered view that the following categories of people have no reason to feel “as free, happy and proud as ever”.
The survivors of genocide.
The people living in rural areas (80% of the population).
- though the Rwandan economy depends mainly on agriculture, which supports 80% of the workforce and produces 42% of the GDP, the agricultural sector receives a mere 3% of the national budget, a far cry from the 10% threshold recommended by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
- In 2003, the agricultural sector sustaining the majority of the poor received only 2% of total bank credits, of which 8% amounted to less than US$ 25
- In rural areas, 30% of children drop out of school before the end of 4th grade, likewise, high school enrolment stands at a 7.9% in rural areas, compared with 10% nationwide
- Military and security forces – same as with the FARG (fund for the survivors of genocide) – receive 10% of development funding, almost twice the share for agriculture, UNDP (2008),
- 83% of the medical personnel work in cities and only 17% in the poor, rural areas.
- All the rural feeder roads are now nonexistent or inaccessible due to lack of maintenance so the sick are taken to hospital carried shoulder high on improvised stretchers.
- Rwanda’s Gini coefficient, measuring economic inequality, has almost doubled in the last 20 years, placing Rwanda among the top 15% most unequal countries in the world
- Young people in concentration camp at Iwawa Island and their relatives.
- People detained without charge or charged but living in inhumane conditions and their relatives.
Relatives and friends of the thousands massacred in the DRC
Those he called hooligans and human waste as well as their supporters
People who cherish the installation of a republican form of government and the end of the exploitative monarchical system.
Returnees from Congo and Burundi
It is very hard to imagine that survivors are better off today than they were before they lost their loved ones in 1994. The President acknowledged that the survivors’ funds are misused and the evidence is that the top leadership has been arrested for the mismanagement of their funds. Therefore even the help allotted to them does not reach them.
Furthermore the improvised introduction of English language has hit them hard because they speak French and hence are unable to compete for the best jobs on the job market or to get tutors to teach English to their children.
The spirits of those who would have survived if the RPF did not oppose the UN intervention in April 1994 must be turning in their graves with anger.
According to Human Rights Watch, “when the Security Council discussed sending a larger peacekeeping force to Rwanda with a broader mandate to protect civilians, the RPF feared that the force might interfere with its goal of military victory. Its leaders were particularly concerned that the French might use the force to protect the interim government. Instead of welcoming the move and urging speedy implementation, the RPF spokesman in Brussels opposed it and asserted that there were no more Tutsi to be saved”. On April 30, Gerald Gahima and Claude Dusaidi of the RPF political bureau reiterated this position.
According to Human Rights Watch “some 30,000 people were gathered at various sites in Kigali and that more than 20,000 clung to life at Kabgayi with another 10,000 at Nyarushishi…. thousands more still remained in hiding in Butare prefecture, where the killing had become widespread only ten days before”. http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/rwanda/#P798_250014
RPF had earlier sabotaged a meeting organised by the UN representative Jacques Bobooh between the RPF and government Forces on the 15th of April 1994, to agree on a ceasefire so that the army could take on the work of stopping massacres. RPF gave impossible preconditions including the demand to denounce the civilian interim government and the President.
Many survivors say in private that they know that they were sacrificed by Kagame by deliberately shooting the plane of President Habyarimana and triggering genocide. Both the UN and OAU report concluded that the shooting of the presidential plane of Habyarimana was the trigger to genocide.
When President Kagame was pressed by a British journalist Stephen Sackur over Habyarimana assassination in the following terms: “But you didn’t have a right to shoot down his plane and to assassinate him”. Paul Kagame answered: “Well I had a right to fight for my rights!” The editor of New Times wrote later in an editorial that Habyarimana was a military target.
According to UNDP Human Development Index Report which is jointly published with government as a blueprint “turning vision 2020 vision into reality” observes that “Rwanda’s high growth rates are deceptive in that they hide large and growing inequalities between social classes, geographic regions and gender”.
“Nearly 900 beggars, homeless people and suspected petty thieves, including dozens of children, have recently been rounded up from the nation’s neatly swept streets and sent — without trial or a court appearance — to this little-known outpost”
“A few months ago, Gasigwa Gakunzi was hanging around a ramshackle house where poor children pay to watch television when the Rwandan police arrested him for loitering. The next thing he knew, he said, he was taken away from his family and carted off to this remote island in the middle of Lake Kivu”. Jeffrey Gettleman
Capital Kigali is now the cleanest city in Africa. Foreign visitors can enjoy their lives without being morally disturbed by the poverty they see around. “You do not see the beggars in Kigali like in other Africa countries” said one tourist. Kigali is environmental friendly: the fountains have running water and public garden kept green even though there is shortage of water for an ordinary resident.
Gitarama has the most overcrowded prison in the world housing over 6000 prisoners in a building design for only 500 people. The jail is so congested that inmates have no option but to stand all day and all night and many suffer from rotting feet. The floor is moist and gangrene slowly sets on inmates toes, they turn black and fall off later. http://www.kevinandnan.com/kevin/africa.html
The standard width of a prisoner’s living space in Rwandan prisons is 40 centimetres. The prisoners call this their “château”, their castle. Many prisoners sleep outside, exposed to the sun and the rain. Family visits last just three minutes.
Those who preferred repatriation were safely brought into the country, but those who chose otherwise were shot “That’s what we did”.
He is not speaking about 10 or 20 people but an estimated 200,000 Hutu refugees who included women, babies and young people.
The Rwandan culture demands some respect for the dead and even fear for their spirits. Not in the Rwanda of Paul Kagame.
In his speech President Kagame called opposition leaders “hooligans” and useless.
It is an open secret that people of Rwanda live in total fear and if they were given freedom to choose the person they want they would surely vote for those who have alternative programmes to RPF. The evidence is that the regime is panicking about letting them disseminate their ideas and stand against him an election. This is a sizeable number of people who would not claim to be free, happy and proud as ever in their lives.
The spot in the middle of this photo shows the grave of Mr Dominique Mbonyumutwa, first President of Rwanda, a Hutu. Mr. Mbonyumutwa was buried in this small public pavilion in Gitarama known in Rwandan history as ‘Democracy Stadium’ at the specific place where, on January 28, 1961, monarchy was abolished and Rwanda was declared a Republic.
The grave was dug early this month at night by prisoners and dumped in a cemetery around Gitarama.
(From L to R): Kayuku, Kayibanda, Mbonyumutwa and Bicamumpaka on the day of Proclamation of the Republic of Rwanda on January 28, 1961.
Whether Kagame likes or not, these figures are seen as heroes by many Hutu and Mbonyummutwa symbolises the end of an exploitative and oppressive system. It is politically unwise for any serious politicians claiming to bring about national unity to dismiss these heroes as useless let alone desecrate their graves and declare that they would be as happy as they have ever been.
Many Rwandans are still in exile including many prominent Rwandans such as the former King of Rwanda, Kigeri Ndahindurwa, two former Prime Ministers, three former Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers of Defence and of Justice, many military officers of all ranks from a private soldier to generals and thousands of Rwandans from all sections of the social order, Hutu and Tutsi alike. They cannot live in Rwanda for fear of their dear lives.
Rwandan workers celebrated the Labour Day with anger last May 1st, 2009. Despite the opposition of all Rwandan trade-unions, the RPF government’s gift to Rwandan workers was a Draft Labour Bill that aims at facilitating workers lay off and to extend working hours from 40 to 45. The law was passed in July 2009.
Despite the fact that women are the majority in Parliament maternity leave has been reduced from 12 weeks to six weeks. A mother will be entitled to six weeks of leave earning 100 per cent of her salary, and if she feels the need to continue the leave for six more weeks, she will be paid only 20 per cent of her salary. Given the poverty prevailing in Rwanda, who will be able to stay home, buy food, pay bills while being paid 20% of her salary?
Besides the law gives a mother one hour a day for breastfeeding. Given the meagre salaries and the cost of transport, only mothers with private cars and able to live within the city will be able to rush home to breastfeed. Yet Rwanda is claimed as the champion of women empowerment.
Surely, the majority of women would not claim to be as happy as ever. Only those handpicked for parliamentary seats would feel very proud of their empowerment by the Beloved leader.
Tutsi returnees from Congo and Burundi are discriminated in employment due to lack of English language. Many are still leaving in refugee camps in Rwanda after being lured to come for milk and honey served by the victorious RPF. After all they have contributed money and manpower i.e. brothers, sisters, husbands, dads lost in the fighting.
President Kagame has identified his group of Rwandans. If you are not as free, happy and proud as you have ever been, you are not on the list of President Kagame life commitments. It is up to you to fight for your rights to be included in his plans and get access to national resources.