Rwanda: Ingabire’s profile artificially raised
by Joseph Rwagatare.
Last week Ms Victoire Ingabire was taken to court to answer some charges. That is the normal procedure for any individual suspected of committing a crime in any country that respects the rule of law.
Immediately there were loud howls of denunciation of the government of Rwanda for the its temerity to arraign her in court.
The noise came from the usual suspects – the all-knowing foreign media, holier-than-thou human rights organisations and hordes of “experts”. This was expected, because, you see, these groups are habitual noise-makers.
They are unrestrained cheerleaders when their person is on the offensive. They have been cheering on Ms Ingabire for quite a while – when she was still in Europe and after she returned to Rwanda. If she was wise she should be able to see that they are egging her on into a “ come-on, fight cocks, fight ( or I should say hens) as they cheer in amusement.
When they are not doing this, they beat war drums to a defeaning frenzy to make sure their person gets where they want her. The current shrill noises are part of this strategy.
If these two don’t bring the desired results, they muddy the waters so that their person can get in without leaving a trail of all the dirty tricks used in getting her in.
If all these fail and they cannot get their way, there is one option left – raise the alarm for everyone to come to the rescue of their person who is in imminent danger.
Last week all these elements were at play again.
But first Ingabire’s profile had to be raised – artificially. She was referred to as Rwanda’s main opposition leader. Really? Then she is President Paul Kagame’s principal opponent in this August’s presidential elections. That’s an insult.
I have tried to understand this unusual elevation of Victoire Ingabire from some obscure, loud detractor of the government of Rwanda to a national figure, but I have failed. Not for want of trying.
Now, I am a fair-minded commentator (I am not blowing my own trumpet. Honest) and I would give even the devil the benefit of the doubt, but I still can’t see how she can rise to such heights.
Well, there are other qualities which, I am sure, some people might see as earning her the unexpected elevation. For instance, her rapid fire mouth with which she threatens to shoot down everyone in sight might be one of them.
To be fair, though, she has tried to control her fire and sound more measured in the last few weeks. But old habits die hard. Her words still sound like hailstone on a tin roof or the metallic sounds of an animated robot. I can’t wait to see their lordships on the receiving end of her fire.
Let’s return to the profile building and look at it more closely. Ingabire is touted as leader of the main opposition party. I have visited the FDU-Inkingi website and listened to Ingabire’s pronouncements, but all I see is a one-woman outfit. All press releases and other communication are apparently written and signed by her.
There is no evidence of a collective party leadership. She is the chair, secretary-general, spokesperson and all members rolled into one. Hardly the definition of a political party.
Political parties distinguish themselves from each other by their political, economic and social progammes and vision by which they plan to manage society. Again, I have tried hard to look for the vision and programme of FDU-Inkingi without much success. What passes for a programme is only invective and diatribe against the president and government of Rwanda. At least that’s what I gather from the good lady’s utterances.
The only other programme is what she is charged with – returning Rwanda to its darkest hour.
All of which make me wonder. Would such a platform qualify her for “main opposition leader” and get her elected to the highest office in the countries of those who loudly cheer her and enthusiastically beat war drums on her behalf?
I know that in the countries where phrases like “political space” were invented for use in African countries, political organisations with extremist agendas are kept away from gaining political power. Yes, they are tolerated, but only as long as they remain on the fringes.
The moment they make any significant gains and threaten to break into the mainstream, alarm bells ring and doors are immediately slammed so that the extremists do not get in.
It is inconcievable that far right parties and organisations such as the British National Party, the National Party in France, skinheads of all sorts, Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other racist groups could be labelled “main opposition” groups in their countries.
But, of course, the rules here are different and we must play by what is set for us. Still, there is an English saying that “what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander “, and I don’t remember its ever falling out of use.
This article was first published by Joseph Rwagatare (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the Rwandan pro-governement daily newspaper ‘The New Times’ under the title: “Cheers, muddy waters and war-drums: we know all about them”.