The New Times (Kigali)

18 January 2013

Rwanda: Kagame's Critics Need Fresh Ideas

opinion

The holiday season is over and the fellows that have made it their trade to demonise whatever happens in this country are back to business.

They enjoyed an easy ride last year--harassing and bullying whoever stood up to question their lies. Rwanda's crime was a simple one---offering her candidacy for a position on the non-permanent seat on the UNSC, which Africa had overwhelmingly supported.

The architects of this onslaught fell on a golden opportunity created by the dysfunctional systems of the DRC, which gave birth to the M23 rebellion. Basing on this Congolese problem, they hatched a lie, perpetrated it and somehow convinced the world to believe it.

As if that was not enough, when the battle to block Rwanda's ascendance to the UNSC turned hard rock, these fellows did not hang their boots. They instead re-grouped and re-designed new strategies of continuing their anti-Rwanda agenda.

Thus, they targeted sections of international media, foreign offices, lawmakers of mainly UK and US---spreading all sorts of gossip sometimes to individuals whose knowledge of the region is as good as the Pope's knowledge of the Quran.

These fellows continue to soldier on--- perpetuating the same lies year-in-year out. It's become a case of same script, different authors and to be honest, the stories have become stale.

Take the example of a recent article published by Newsweek in which its author attacked President Kagame on issues, some clearly past their sell by date, and others simply a reflection of the stereotype that these individuals still hold for Africans.

I will pick a few.

The article accuses President Kagame of "tightly controlling the country and its citizens" and that the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the country's dominant political party is "throughout Rwanda-in every town and tiny village---"

If this is not madness, then I don't know what is. Since when did 'tightly' controlling one's affairs become a crime? Should a Head of State be reckless and loosely handle State affairs? Is it a free-ride-for-all within their own countries or are they trying to say that issues of holding people to account are non-issues for Africans?

Why is it acceptable for leaders in these western powers to 'tightly' control their own affairs through strong institutions and when it comes to Africa, it becomes a case of dictatorship or suppression of people's rights? If demand for accountability is what constitutes 'tightly' controlling, then the President is guilty as charged.

Then comes the accusation that RPF is dominant and present in every village. Should it (RPF) be operating on Mars? If RPF is the ruling party, why shouldn't it be in every village? Why shouldn't its cadres provide oversight on how government programmes are being implemented? Do the Republicans, Democrats or Tories only operate from Washington and London alone? Or is it an indirect message that African political organisations should not have this level of political organization and vision?

The article again says, "RPF regulations-enforced by local commissars with vigour and steep fines-govern almost every aspect of daily life. There are laws requiring peasants to wear shoes and good clothes when not working their fields and prohibition of drinking banana wine from shared straws"

I will blindfold myself and not take this as a question of racial supremacy. However, what we pick from such a statement is that Africa, in the eyes of some of these fellows, Africa remains the land of the cursed---the impoverished lot, with children bearing skeletal structures, ragged outfit and mucus flowing down their chins.

In other words, it's an abomination for us to think about living healthy.

You can share the same bottle or same straw with a person suffering from tuberculosis because these are 'African' standards. Any measure to change such standards is a violation of the "way of life" of the rural community.

And then the mother of all accusations! "The RPF saturates every aspect of life in Rwanda-----They know everything: if you've been drinking, if you've had an affair, if you've paid your taxes. Everything is reported on."

I can't help but laugh here. RPF is being indicted for doing exactly what any sane ruling political organisation should do. And why is it strange for these fellows? Simple---any ruling party in Africa is supposed to be overdosed with power and thus only asleep! It's supposed to eat, sleep and wake up with a rebellion on their door steps staged by disgruntled segment of its population. So for a party to be alert, that is very 'un-African.'

Honestly, these accusations point to how misinformed or the low opinion with which some, of course not all, our Western brothers still regard us.

The mirror, in which they continue to view this part of the world, is one of ignorance, sheer poverty, endemic wars, disease and hunger and yet though Africa remains background, it has steadily progressed.

To them, collecting taxes or putting on shoes is un-African and where this happens, it's not out of genuine need for state empowerment but rather an indication of a dictatorial leadership.

Fortunately, Rwanda is not in this league anymore. Anyone who wants to view it from that angle is simply squint- eyed. They either get fresh malicious ideas or forever hold their peace.

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