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A battle six years in the making

By Andrew M. Mwenda

My latest attempt to qualify Rwanda’s progress to the incredulous mind of a critic

Over Christmas, Timothy Kalyegira and I got involved into a heated SMS exchange about Rwanda, a subject I am deeply interested in and one that he is equally obsessed with without noticing it. I had told Timothy that Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame were having a relaxed and cordial Christmas in Rwakitura as part of the effort to reconcile themselves and their two countries. Below are excerpts for anyone to read and judge for themselves.


Timothy Kalyegira (TK):

For a deep and enduring healing between Tutsi and Hutu to take place in Rwanda, a similar gesture towards Victoire Ingabire, given the reality of these traditional and sentimental societies of ours, can go much further in stabilizing Rwanda than an over emphasis on efficient government bureaucracy and building infrastructure.

Andrew Mwenda (AM)

But Ingabire does not represent Hutus as you think. The current commissioner general of prisons of Rwanda is a former commander of FDLR. The current commander of the reserve force of Rwanda was chief of military intelligence for FDLR. Jeannette Kagame’s personal assistant is a daughter of Kayibanda. So many Hutus who were opposed to RPF have come back and reconciled. You ignore all of them (actually you do not know about them).

But Rwanda is doing more than what you are asking for. Are you aware that 55 percent of the officer corp of the RDF are ex-FAR (the army under former President Habyarimana)? Are you also aware that the constitution of Rwanda says that no political party can hold more than 50 percent of cabinet posts regardless of the votes it gets? It also says that the president and speaker of parliament cannot come from the same party? Are you aware that the current president of the senate was Kagame’s main challenger in the last elections? Are you aware that Rwanda has a political parties’ forum which meets at least once every month and its chairmanship rotates among all parties regardless of the size? And the decisions of this forum are what influences government policy and legislation?

TK:

Most people, no matter how you discuss and reason with them about religion, will not change their minds. It’s a non-negotiable topic. That is what Rwanda is to you. You abandoned Christianity and today you follow a religion whose church is the RPF and Kagame, the messiah. Nothing will change your mind.

AM:

Now notice that I sent you a list of things you want the government of Rwanda to do; showing that it is doing more than what you are asking for. Rather than challenge me on the very things you ask for, the facts I presented to you, you reply by accusing me of believing in RPF as a religion and Paul Kagame as messiah.

It is that attitude that shows your disinterest in the reality of Rwanda and your obsession with your prejudices about it. In fact, to correct my earlier message, Jeannette Kagame’s executive assistant is daughter of Sindikubwabo, who was president immediately after Habyarimana died (during the genocide). Tim, to ignore all these facts and begin attacking my person is beneath contempt. In fact most Tutsi complain that Kagame has given the country and the revolution over to Hutus especially Hutu women. A common joke in Rwanda is that “If you are not Hutu and a woman, you have no place in Kagame’s Rwanda”.

TK:

Ok running out of airtime. I had to respond to this part on religion. I did not just wake up and start “hating” the RPF. In fact in 1994, with the genocide raging, I wrote an article in New Vision or Monitor urging Museveni’s government to urgently support the RPF. That was before I got new facts.

AM:

Angel Tim is never wrong. I do not expect you to change your mind even in the face of new facts because that is who you are. You have accusations against RPF without proof in logical consistency or factual validity. And you want people to believe them. I have given you facts. You can fly to Rwanda and verify for yourself. Surely, you lack a soul Tim or you are terrified of admitting to being wrong and you prefer to wallow in your prejudices than listen to facts.

TK:

Well, you have not proved that I do not have facts. How you can conclude that I do not have them, I wonder. You will get them, do not worry.

AM:

It’s been six years now of us debating Rwanda. All you have given me are erroneous accusations without factual validity or logical consistency.

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