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Rwanda’s sham election

July 25, 2010

As voting time, set for Aug. 9, approaches, President Paul Kagame’s RPF continues to practice zero-sum politics that could lead to more political violence

by Susan Thomson

(Co-authored by a Rwandan academic based in the U.S. who survived the 1994 genocide and wishes to remain anonymous. This author runs the blog The Cry for Freedom in Rwanda.)

This photo of Rwandan President Paul Kagame illustrates a July 22 story from the London Telegraph headlined “Paul Kagame: Rwanda's redeemer or ruthless dictator?” Much of the world’s mainstream media is beginning to question Western support for the brutal and ruthless dictator, whose “economic miracle” is large fueled by plundered resources from Congo passing through his country. – Photo: Getty Images
For many Western observers – Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates among them – Rwanda’s economic growth is the foundation of its democratic transition. Yet, as Rwandans head to the polls next month to elect a president, Paul Kagame’s ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has perverted the very democratic ideals it claims to uphold.

Kagame’s RPF emerged victorious from and gained credit for ending the 1994 genocide in which ethnic Hutu killed at least 500,000 ethnic Tutsi. Foreign leaders, feeling guilty for not having done enough to end the genocide or for having a direct role in the massacres, pumped money into Rwanda in the hope of rebuilding a new society – a society free from ethnic division. From ashes, the Rwandan people quickly started showing signs of recovery. Still, the RPF continues to practice zero-sum politics that could return the country to the abyss of 1994.

Over the last 16 years, the RPF has centralized power into a one-man dictatorship. A tiny English-speaking Tutsi elite, most of whom grew up as refugees in neighboring Uganda, surrounds the dictator, Paul Kagame. The politics of exclusion that marked the pre-genocide years remains intact despite the official policy of ethnic unity. The Hutu community, making up some 85 per cent of the population, is largely excluded from most positions of power. Even more insulting, politics, business and the civil service are all dominated by military personnel or former members of the RPF.

In advance of the upcoming presidential elections, many “friends” of Rwanda have remained supportive of its so-called “democratic transition.” They ignore the repeated arrests of journalists and opposition politicians, the closing of independent local newspapers, the ejection of a Human Rights Watch researcher, an assassination attempt against exiled Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, who fell out with President Kagame earlier this year, the murder of journalist Jean-Leonard Rugambage, who attempted to report on Nyamwasa’s assassination attempt in the online version of a Rwandan newspaper the print edition of which the government closed down, and the murder of Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, vice-president of the opposition Democratic Green party. While diplomats from some countries, such as Sweden and the Netherlands, have cut their aid, the U.S. and the U.K. continue to publicly support Kagame. Canada’s position is vague as it encourages Rwanda to adopt policies that promote a pluralist society.

Under the watch of a sympathetic and supportive international community, Kagame has done everything within his power to ensure that the August elections consolidate his political power.

First, he appointed all the members of the National Electoral Commission, staffing it with former and current members of the RPF. Although members of the political opposition have protested, Kagame shows no sign of accepting reform. Such an arrangement will make it possible for him to manipulate, rig and control the elections.

Second, the RPF revised the constitution in 2003. Many of its provisions endanger democracy. The most damning is the ill-defined law on genocide ideology. Its official purpose is to identify individuals who wish to kill ethnic Tutsi. In practice, the law is invoked against political opponents or critics of the government who question its reconstruction or reconciliation policies or who suggest that the RPF committed war crimes before, during, and after the genocide. Instead of erasing the ethnic hatred that the RPF believes lives in the hearts and minds of some Rwandans, the genocide ideology law is crystallizing dissent among some sections of the military while weakening the opposition and journalists who criticize the government’s application of the law.

Lastly, Kagame abolished real opposition and manufactured a shadow opposition that serves only to sing the praises of the RPF. This “opposition” is active only during election season and is otherwise unknown to the general public. None of the three actual opposition parties – the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, FDU-Inkingi and PS-Imberakuri – can take part in the elections because their respective leaders are either in prison or banned from registering their candidates on allegations of harboring genocide ideology.

While much of the diplomatic community acknowledges these democratic shortcomings, most Western donors continue to highlight Rwanda’s economic growth as the necessary stimulant to inch the country towards democracy. What these actors overlook is the fact that the benefits of economic growth accrue largely to urban elites. The post-genocide policies of the RPF neglect the rural peasantry, which comprise 90 per cent of the population.

The international community widely praises Kagame’s liberal economic policies without due regard to the restrictions they have placed on what peasants produce and how they sell it. The government requires rural farmers to grow coffee and tea instead of the crops needed to feed their families. A new land policy has decreased peasant holdings to less than a half-acre. This means that few families are able to grow enough to subsist, let alone take any excess to market.

The United Nations Development Program reported in 2008 that Rwanda’s Gini coefficient has increased since the RPF came to office, and that the socio-economic disparity had increased from its 1990 levels. As one rural farmer in Northern Province lamented, “If the RPF doesn’t allow us to trade freely, we will join the FDLR rebel group … otherwise, how will we feed our children?”

The suppression of democratic ideals under President Kagame cannot guarantee continued economic growth in Rwanda. The latest attacks on basic human freedoms could be but the tip of the iceberg. Before Rwandans go to the polls next month, Western friends of Rwanda – the diplomats, policy-makers and academics that extol the country’s democratic virtues – must press for meaningful democratic change by encouraging free speech and political dialogue with a viable opposition. Without meaningful change, the country could be headed for another round of mass political violence.

Susan Thomson is a Five Colleges Professor, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation at Hampshire College, Amherst, Mass. She has been researching state-society relations in Rwanda since 1996 and is the author of numerous publications on the country. She can be reached at susanm.thomson@gmail.com.

22 thoughts on “Rwanda’s sham election

  1. Ken Blackwell

    I just returned from a few weeks in Rwanda last week and I'm not buying this article.
    A few facts:
    1) The development of road project and rural commodity markets (a huge one going into Bigogwe as we speak) is empowering the rural farmers to be able to negotiate a better price for goods. Rather than having to sit by the edge of the road and take whatever price the "urban elites" offer as they drive by in trucks, these farmers can now take part in a true exchange.
    2) The amount of roofing tin being made available by the government is staggering. Likewise truck loads of clay for bricks. The housing situation is remarkably better than my first visit just a few years ago.
    3) I'm not happy about some of the political jailings, but the idea that the government is invovled in the killings mentioned is stupid and the average person in Rwanda does not believe that. It is the small handful of people who long for a return to the violence of 1994 that has the most interest in political violence, especially when they can easily dup Western press into believing that it is the Kagame government that is responsible. Sorry to see Ms. Thomson fell for it.

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  2. Ken Blackwell

    There is a serious problem brewing in Rwanda, but the western press seems to hung up on the realtively small immediate problems to notice the real problem. Kagame has consolidated a lot of power. He is overwhelmingly using that power for the good of the average Rwandan. The real threat is what happens AFTER Kagame. Will the next guy inherit all of the power yet not be as benevolent? This is what we should be worried about. It is what the average Rwandan is worried about.

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  3. Magona

    Madam Susana Thomson,
    Why are you more interested in spreading negative propaganda than informing the international community the truth about Rwanda?
    Point one, the hutu community is not excluded from power as you deliberately state. All Rwandans have equal chances to be appointed/ or compete for any post irrespective of their ethnic background. If you still think in that way as you put it in your article, then better ask than confuse other readers.
    The National electoral commission is represented by all political parties. Ask for facts.

    In Rwanda there are several opposition political parties but if you want to call them shadow, that is your own business. If you want CDR, MRND and others then Rwandans will resist you.

    Rwanda is better off than it was 16 years ago. If you need facts than visit world bank reports on Rwanda.

    Susan, if you cant see the positive things happening in Rwanda, then you need a doctor.

    Regarding recent death you are talking about, what is important is that some suspects have been apprehended and investigations are taking place. Rwanda is not heaven where people will not die, but the once such crimes are comittted, then there is strong will for justice to be delivered.

    Susan you need to be educated more on what is happening in Rwanda than just recycling your same negative headings.

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  4. Magona

    “100 Reasons to Re-elect Paul Kagame”

    Education

    1.Ensuring 9-Year Basic Education for all Rwandan children that will tremendously improve literacy levels in the country
    2.A promise to have Universal Secondary Education by 2017
    3.Making education accessible by all with no segregations, particularly promoting Girls’ and Special Needs’ education
    4.Encouraging parents and communities’ involvement in education
    5.Introducing English as medium of instruction in schools to make Rwanda more competitive on the global stage
    6.Creating 14 new Higher Learning Institutions, almost tripling Higher Education enrolment in 7 year years
    7.Providing scholarships to the best and brightest Rwandan students to pursue their studies in the best universities of Europe and North America;
    8.Promising to achieve 100% literacy by 2017 through effective adult education;
    9.Introducing technology in schools starting with primary schools under the ’One Laptop Per Child’ program
    10.Increasing the number of qualified teachers at all levels of education through effective distance learning and in-service training and remunerating them adequately.

    Health

    1.Raising the life expectancy in Rwanda from 43 to 53 years;
    2.Introducing 6 types of health insurance including the famous “Mutuelle de Santé” resulting in a health insurance coverage of 94% of the population;
    3.Introducing universal immunisation programmes;
    4.Introducing health awareness programs;
    5.Reducing deaths from malaria by 75%;
    6.Reducing infant mortality by 70%;
    7.Reducing HIV infections from 9 percent to 2%;
    8.Building a clinic in every sector;
    9.Reducing water-borne diseases by 60%;
    10.Ensuring that more doctors and nurses are trained and deployed evenly across the country

    Justice

    1.Trying over 1,100,000 cases in the Gacaca court system;
    2.Undertaking a complete restructuring of the justice sector;
    3.Introducing many laws for different sectors that brings orderliness in State functioning;
    4.Releasing over 80,000 genocide convicts safely into the community while ensuring law and order in the society;
    5.Making convicted prisoners give back to society through work schemes;
    6.Building over 100 new courts of law;
    7.Training over 300 new judges;
    8.Creating an independent judicially and an independent Judge selection process;
    9.Promoting local mediation services to reduce backlog of court cases;
    10.Introducing the commercial courts and streamlining the justice system by merging the administration process;

    Agriculture

    1.Introducing crop intensification programme and boosting agricultural production by 10 percent annually;
    2.Introducing the cooperative system to buy produce from farmers;
    3.Diversifying the crops cultivated through sensitisation;
    4.Significantly reducing poverty and mal-nutrition through the one cow per family: “the Girinka” programme;
    5.Introducing a phone text service that can inform farmers of the latest crop prices
    6.Making subsidized seeds and fertilizers available on credit;
    7.Promoting mechanised agriculture through a scheme of 1 tractor per village
    8.Making veterinarians more widely spread across the country
    9.Introducing irrigation farming
    10.Making ‘hunger’ a history in our country

    Economy

    1.Increasing average earnings of Rwandans from $220 to $560 in 7 years!
    2.Strengthening the private sector and streamlining doing business in Rwanda;
    3.Increasing the tax base and total revenue collected domestically ;
    4.Promoting credit to small to medium sized enterprises;
    5.Increasing domestic funding of government to development projects in national budget from 10% to 50%;
    6.Promoting transparency by fighting corruption;
    7.Diversifying the economy by promoting new sectors like mining and tourism;
    8.Promoting foreign direct investment to nearly $1 billion annually;
    9.Making poverty-reduction the hallmark of economic development;
    10.Cutting down on government expenditure through initiatives like reducing on the number of government vehicles;

    Security

    1.Making Rwanda one of the safest places in the world
    2.Devolving security responsibility down to the local level
    3.Reducing crime through local initiatives
    4.Professionalising the Army and integrating former hostile elements
    5.Fighting impunity and corruption in the army and hence cementing discipline
    6.Sending Rwandan soldiers and Police officers to keep peace in war ravaged places like Darfur, Haiti, Liberia, etc.
    7.Introducing electronic ID cards to all adults
    8.Instituting a police force that is disciplined and highly professional
    9.Establishing a credit scheme for the Army and Police
    10.Making peace with neighbours like Democratic Republic of Congo

    Foreign policy

    1.Making Rwanda a respected partner in regional and international affairs
    2.Improving Rwanda’s relations with former hostile nations like France and DRC
    3.Making Rwanda one of the biggest contributors of peace-keepers in the UN
    4.Working tirelessly to track and prosecute Genocide suspects
    5.Joining the East African Community and the Commonwealth
    6.Being one of the foremost advocates of fully integrated EAC
    7.Relentlessly promoting Rwanda abroad and expanding her relations to countries such as Australia, Singapore, South Korea, etc.
    8.Chairing powerful global initiatives like the UN MDGs and the ITU Broadband Commission and serving on the Advisory board of the World Bank.
    9.Creating special friends for Rwanda that have always defended our cause.
    10.Refusing to be bullied by the west and always insisting on an equal voice for Africa on the global scene.

    Technology

    1.Making ICT the main focus of our long-term development
    2.Making technology integral to government service provision
    3.Supporting the one laptop per child policy
    4.Laying thousands of kilometres of fibre-optic cables
    5.Connecting all government centers to the internet
    6.Abolishing import duties on ICT equipment
    7.Building one of the best telephone network systems in the region
    8.Strongly advocating for undersea cable to land on EA coastline and now eventually in Rwanda
    9.Turning Rwanda into an influential country on ICT global issues
    10. Emphasising on ICTs in our education programs and setting up institutions to oversee this program

    Infrastructure

    1.Constructing good roads across the country
    2.Building communication towers to help link outlying areas
    3.Setting up building regulations to improve basic infrastructure
    4.Reducing tax on building materials to encourage growth of the industry
    5.Bringing electricity to all major areas, with plans to expand it to every village
    6.Coming up with a master plan and securing funding for a new international airport
    7.Advocating for Isaka railway line which will reduce transport costs
    8.Ensuring that Kigali master plan is implemented
    9.Building district and sector headquarters nationwide
    10.Investing heavily in ICT infrastructure

    Kagame, the man

    1.He is a man of principle and values
    2.He is pragmatic and ready to make tough choices in the interest of his country
    3.He promises and delivers
    4.He is patriotic and wants the best for Rwandans
    5.He is a visionary and inspirational leader
    6.He is intelligent, skilful and innovative
    7.He is a humble man who does not value personal gains
    8.He is not a man to bully and he is never shaken by circumstances
    9.He has a humble background that shapes his character as a down-to-earth leader
    10.He is a family man and cherishes family values

    “You Do Not Change a Winning Team”

    Reply
  5. Selina

    No to get away from the subject but no one has done any articles on Zimbabwe or the government
    I've read the article on Google website but some their stories seemed to promote more of a western agenda

    Will the SFBay View be doing any articles on Gov't of Zimb.,??????

    Reply
  6. Mugiraneza

    Mr. Blackwell,__Listen you don't understand the country situation. They may seem to be divelopment, but you don't know what the avarage people are going through. They will not say anything against Kagame because they fear for their lives. With all the respect that you visited the country, i am not sure how long you were there in the beautiful little mountaineous country. Have you seen the difference between rural areas and Kigali? Again it all depends to your own judgment, beside development we need people to be free to justify themselves which does not exist in the beautiful country. You have a bunch of people accused of crimes that they never commited, but they have no rights to appeal. What is the development when thousands of innocent people rot in prisons? I don't deny that Mr. President Kagame should be credited for it by all means. In fact i say Bravo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! to the work well done in this area.

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  7. Mugiraneza

    Then please and please let there be a fair and clear election next month, not where people vote with the so called reprsentatives making sure that people vote well breathing on their necks and forcing them to vote for Kagame. If he is voted for congrats, but if not he should graciously cherish the past presidence and work with the new elect to continue bringing Rwanda forward. God's blessings to all of you reading this, and please help me to pray for Rwanda and her citizens.

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  8. Giramata Fatima

    To this very biased article, I will reply with words from Richard Grant, a renowned British writer, who visited Rwanda in July 2010:

    "Like most foreign visitors, I have been impressed by the cleanliness, order and efficiency of the country. Sixteen years after the genocide in which Hutu fanatics orchestrated the slaughter of more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, leaving the country a nightmarish ruin, with the treasury looted and corpses stuffed down the wells, Rwanda is now the safest, cleanest country in Africa, with no slums and virtually no begging or street crime. It has one of the highest sustained rates of economic growth on the continent, the least amount of corruption and red tape, and it is the only country in the world to have a majority of women in its parliament… ."

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  9. Giramata Fatima

    Richard Grant article continues:

    "Plastic bags are outlawed for environmental reasons, and in Kigali, the capital city, skyscrapers are rising, and the streets are swept clean every morning. The death penalty has been abolished, and English adopted as the official language. There is a national health system, 19 out of 20 children are now in school, and rural Rwanda, while still in severe poverty, has better internet service than rural Britain, and a good network of immaculately paved roads. "

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  10. Giramata Fatima

    And finally from Richard Grant's article:

    "Meanwhile the survivors of the genocide are doing something almost unimaginable: co-existing with the men who hacked their family members to death, and so often tortured and raped them. In many cases survivors and killers are now living as neighbours again in the same villages, and while this is a tense arrangement to say the least, there has been remarkably little violence, and some inspiring examples of forgiveness and reconciliation. "

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  11. Giramata Fatima

    Oops! I forgot to post this from the same article:

    "'These achievements are extraordinary but they seem fragile,’ I say. 'The country still feels so traumatised and volatile. I have been asking Rwandans what they would like to ask you, and two questions keep coming up: how can we heal the ethnic division in our hearts? And what happens if Kagame drops dead tomorrow? Many think there would be another genocide.’ "

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  12. Giramata Fatima

    This is the best part of Richard Grant article :

    "No one is watching the Rwanda experiment more closely than other Africans. Kagame is widely admired and respected on the continent, and considered a shoo-in for the presidency of the African Union if he ever wants the job. But the Rwanda model is not easily replicated. It requires a Kagame, and men like Kagame do not come along often. There has never been a shortage of autocrats in Africa, but very few of them have been so driven and determined to better their countries, and most have concentrated on enriching themselves and shoring up their power with patronage. Kagame has shown Africa that strong leadership can turn a country around, and that a strong leader shows no quarter to his opponents. "

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  13. Munyaneza

    To Mugiraneza,

    I am a Rwandan living in Rwanda during and after the genocide. Most of us (Kagame cannot satisfy everyone) are very grateful to him.

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  14. Willis Shalita

    I read your article, "RWANDA's SHAM ELECTION" with my amusement, but with contempt. The election has not taken place and you called it a sham ?

    You also state that this was co-authored by a Rwandan academic who wishes to remain anonymous. I think you meant to say that he has no balls ! truth shall set you free.

    rwanda's progress in the last 16 years since the 1994 genocide is astounding, and there for everyone to judge. Are there problems in the country ? Dah ! We don't live in a utopia.

    Like nobody rose to our rescue in 1994, we will keep re-building our country with help from our friends and ignore those who do not wish us well.

    Rwanda will rise and shine again, and paul Kagame has played his part, and done it well.

    Willis Shalita
    San Francisco

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  15. Goergennette

    At times i wonder why the so called western researchers who cliam to be custodians of knowledge hardly tell the truth ab't facts that do not require even much putting energy. President Paul Kagame's reconciliation strategy, management model, empowerment of women in leadership, and insistence on self-reliance, are transforming a failed state into one with a bright future. Rwanda’s rapid improvements have impressed the rest of the continent and Kagame’s influence is exponentially greater that his small country might warrant. This is visible everywhere in the country. Rwanda has turned into a point of reference in terms of socio-economic and political development. Even western countries come to learn from Rwanda. So pliz Thomson, if u have no research skills at least common sense can work here to find out facts about Rwanda.

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  16. Kanyana

    The problem with some of the people like Suzan Thomson is wishful thinking. They tend to write what they wish for Rwanda. They have been wishing Rwanda to fail in everything but unfortunately, their wishes haven’t come to pass, so they decide to fabricate it. Really I don’t believe that Suzan went to Rwanda and conducted a research about the country. She could have written that article while sleeping and dreaming putting her wishes into reality. Suzan in your research process did you come across some of the country’s home grown distinctive policies that have vitally molded Rwandans lives? For instance did you know anything about Mutuelle de Santé (a health insurance scheme), Girinka (one cow per family), Ubudehe (collective community development work), Imihigo (performance contracts), the just concluded Gacaca courts plus free basic education. If you didn’t, what about your sources? May be they could have been sleeping as well dreaming like u: you were in the same spirit. I can’t imagine a whole professor writing baseless things that are just malicious, distorting and call it research.

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  17. Goergennette

    By the way Rwandans know what they want, we are no longer of 1950s. We know what is suitable for us and we shall do it come rain or high water.

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  18. John

    Why should anyone deliberately ignore facts?
    By Dick Kabano

    http://www.newtimes.co.rw/index.php?issue=14343&article=32160

    It is baffling how Prof. Susan Thomson, claiming to have been researching on state-society relations in Rwanda since 1996 could unhesitatingly predict that “without ‘meaningful change’, the country could be headed for another round of mass political violence!”

    Prof. Susan’s article “Rwanda’s sham election” posted on BayView on July 25, 2010 doesn’t in any way show how she arrived at such a conclusion.

    From the start, Ms Susan talks of “Ethnic Hutu who killed at least 500,000 ethnic Tutsi”. Although genocide is not about numbers, one wonders why an informed researcher on Rwanda eagerly sticks to a stereotyped figure while she must be well aware that there have been more than one million documented Tutsi killed. Refer to (Ministry of Local Government census report of 2001, National Institute of Statistics 2007, 2008 AERG report)

    But Ms Susan’s statements throughout the article try to portray a bleak situation in Rwanda in such a manner that she could reach her preconceived conclusion that “RPF politics could return the country to the abyss of 1994”, even if she acknowledges that it emerged victorious and gained credit for ending the 1994 genocide.

    “Over the last 16 years, the RPF has centralized power into a one-man dictatorship. A tiny English-speaking Tutsi elite, most of whom grew up as refugees in neighboring Uganda, surrounds the dictator, Paul Kagame, Ms Thomson states.

    I would like to inform Ms Susan and others with the same line of thinking of a few facts, which i hope will provide a clear perspective different from what is provided by anonymous individuals. RPF liberation struggle attracted Rwandan refugees from various countries where they had taken refuge; they came from Burundi, DR Congo, Tanzania, Kenya and elsewhere in Europe and Americas.

    For the liberation struggle to have originated from Uganda is just due to historical reasons, whereby some Rwandans fought alongside Ugandans in their past liberation struggles.
    The Rwandan constitution provides for power sharing, and the real framework for political activities. In its Article 2 states that “All the power derives from the people. No group of people or individual can vest in themselves the exercise of power”. Article 58 stipulates that “The President of the Republic and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies shall belong to different political organizations”.

    Article 56 provides that “Without prejudice to the independence of each political organization and their collaboration, political organizations officially recognized in Rwanda shall organize themselves in a consultative forum.

    The forum is mainly responsible for facilitating exchange of ideas by political organizations on major issues facing the country; consolidating national unity; advising on national policy; acting as mediators in conflicts arising between political organizations; assisting in resolving internal conflicts within a political organization upon request by that political organization.

    The forum’s decisions shall always be taken by the consensus of the constituent organizations. In such a context, it would rather be difficult, even if one wanted to, to establish a “one-man dictatorship” as Ms Thomson alleges.

    She continues that “The politics of exclusion that marked the pre-genocide years remains intact despite the official policy of ethnic unity. The Hutu community, making up some 85 per cent of the population, is largely excluded from most positions of power…”

    Although i will not accept to be dragged into such backward ethnic politics and discuss the colonial-time percentages between Hutu and Tutsi, Ms Susan should know that, the above mentioned constitutional provisions are inspired by the will to create broad-based institutions (in government and parliament), not only considering the Hutu-Tutsi-Twa fabricated ethnic distinctions, but also the women, the youth, the disabled etc…

    In a research carried out by the Rwanda Senate in 2007, it was revealed that, although genocide ideology was still prevalent in Rwanda, the national army and the Unity and reconciliation commission were highly saluted by the people of Rwanda for pioneering the cause of unity and reconciliation. The quest for unity and reconciliation among Rwandans has been going on for years and the achievements so far are impressive, but ill intended people continue to view Rwandans through ethnic lenses.

    As Minister Louise Mushikiwabo highlighted at THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL OF THE UNITED STATES on July 20, “by and large, Rwanda is a country where a lot of people are proud to be and a lot of people feel that for the first time in their history, they have a sense of belonging, where most people feel that the country has responded to their aspirations as normal citizens, especially in light of the life of the refugee that so many Rwandans have lived, the system of discrimination that has marked Rwanda since independence and a certain level of isolation that Rwanda has had from the independence from Belgium all the way to the mid-’90s.

    The incidents Ms Susan as well as other media reports refer to, “arrests of journalists and opposition politicians, the closing of independent local newspapers, an assassination attempt against exiled Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, the murder of journalist Jean-Leonard Rugambage, and the murder of Andre Kagwa Rwisereka…” when bundled up in this way, it is true they give an impression of insecurity, but what should be noted is that all these cases are being investigated one by one. The two news papers editors of suspended Umuseso and Umuvugizi run away to evade justice as they have different cases in the Rwandan courts to answer.

    Umuseso’s editor Charles Kabonero tried several times to acquire visas to US and Canada but his application was rejected because he lied to immigration officers, alleging persecution in Rwanda, when he was actually running away from justice. Regarding the case of Umurabyo Editor, Would Ms Susan want the Rwandan laws to be compromised where for example someone insults the president of the republic comparing him with Hitler (Umurabyo issue 29 page 4)

    To remind our dear readers, as much as the Rwanda government is determined to respect press freedom, but there are also laws in place to be taken into account. According to the new list released by Media High Council on 28 July 2010 so far 18 radios, one TV and 22 news papers are the accepted media organs in Rwanda after fulfilling all the requirements as required by the media law. Among other things, all media organisations were required to submit several documents including an operating business licence and CVs of senior staff.

    The practice was launched with the coming into force of the new media law in August 2009.

    Ms Susan Thomson to sustain that “The government requires rural farmers to grow coffee and tea instead of the crops needed to feed their families. A new land policy has decreased peasant holdings to less than a half-acre.

    This means that few families are able to grow enough to subsist, let alone take any excess to market” clearly this is a biased research, because the Rwanda National Bank 2010 quarterly report on the crops production provides a different perspective from her research.

    Indeed, the report reveals that “Rwanda’s national food crop output climbed by 6.2 percent in the fist three months of 2010 from the same period last year, making the country more food secure.

    The report says that overall production in cereals increased by 25.15 percent, mainly occasioned by the growth in maize and wheat production.

    The total production of roots and tubers experienced better performances with17.39 percent rise mainly attributed to Irish potatoes, and cassava whose production increased by 25.84 percent and 20 percent respectively,” the report said.

    The recent high output in agriculture has led to the fall in food prices and has also been central to the low inflationary pressures. The agriculture sector, which directly or indirectly employs more than 80 percent of the households in Rwanda, grew by 10.4 percent last year compared to 8.7 percent in the previous year.”

    Rwandans have a clear view of what is good for them and hereafter are some of their comments to TNT of July 27, 2010: “I will vote for Kagame for his effective leadership.

    He has constructed houses for us; I personally got a free house from Kagame’s leadership. I am sure he has to win the elections because he has laid a firm foundation for his campaign and he has proved that he delivers. John Rushigajiki, 51, potter.

    Kagame has protected us from wars and hunger, he has given us cows, he built schools and our children are now attending schools. I am really very appreciative and there is nothing more I can ask other than consolidating what we have achieved so far. I will have to vote for him! Angelina Mukagatare, 60, farmer.

    He has brought development, I have witnessed people prosper. I am an old woman, and all I am asking from fellow Rwandans is to keep him in power. He is an honest and patriotic man. He is a leader who treats his people equally with no discrimination.

    I have always prayed for him and will always do. He has not disappointed me and he has not betrayed his country and his people. He is the only man who deserves to lead this country. Teresa Nyirabitari, 71, retired

    He brought hospitals, schools and infrastructure in our area, all residents are now benefiting from Mutuelle de Sante (Universal Medical Insurance) and he has modernised the agricultural systems. We would only request him to construct for us the Ngororero-Rusebeya –Mungoti road and I am sure we don’t need to request him because he will do it. Augustin Turaturanye, 41, Casual Labourer.

    So Ms Susan Thomson, what do you say about this?

    Ends

    Reply
  19. Emmanuel rwemarika

    I have seen and heard many experts of the type of Ms Susan. When the genocide againt the Tutsi in 1994, they couldn't point Rwanda on the map. Yet, because the wrote one or two papers on Rwanda, they label themselves "experts" even if, I assume in the case of Ms Susan, they have not even put their foot on the Rwandan soil. I call them "experts". They tend to be lazy, recycling the same rubbish commonly found in the circles of those who masterminded the 1994 genocide and who are nostaligic of retuning to power by all means. Had Ms Susan and the likes done a bity of homework as previous commentators point out, she would have realised that her account of the realities of today's Rwanda are fraud and deserve utmot contempt!!

    Emmanuel Rwemarika

    Reply
  20. KCJ

    I am proud to be called Rwandan again! I love you guys for responding to Ms Susan Thomson.

    One question for Susan: why should we believe any thing from the so-called "Rwandan Academician" who doesn't have the gut to put his name on this article? and what made you trust him? I don't know what he is but he is no survivor of the genocide.

    Amaboko yacu azakorera u Rwanda (Our hands will rebuild Rwanda)

    KCJ

    Reply

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