21st January 2011
Referring to Mr Kayumba Nyamwasa (now stripped of his rank) and the prison sentence handed to him, his fellow Rwandan in exile remarked: “Leta irikirigita igaseka!” (Government is ‘tickling itself and laughing’). That Kinyarwanda expression means the government is engaging in an effort in futility.
In short, there is no legal authority to the sentence. Was the sentence actually legally executed? Did the military court have powers to strip Mr Nyamwasa of his rank?
I was in two minds, too, when I read Mr Nyamwasa’s assertion that only a military officer with a higher or equal rank could judge him. But I got information and later read Lt Col Jill Rutaremara’s clarification that the law categorically states: “the Judge presiding over the trial shall be at least at the same military class with the defendant”.
I also understand what that “same military class” means. In the military ranks of Rwanda, the class of Generals includes the ranks of General, Lieutenant General, Major General and Brigadier General. The lower class is of Senior Officers: Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel and Major. Lower classes follow.
Mr Nyamwasa is wrong in questioning the powers of a Brigadier General over a Lieutenant General as a judge and of the court over which the former presided. But, as a lawyer who has been in the army, he knows better. So, why would he misguide his listeners if it were not to play to the gallery of Western opinion?
But what can that West do?
Yes, it used to be that Western countries would send an army which would depose an African leader in a day. The CIA worked with local goons in the army of D.R. Congo to murder Patrice Lumumba, then Prime Minister. Israel’s Mossad is known to have engineered the overthrow of Uganda’s Milton Obote. French mercenaries used to toss around Francophone Africa’s governments at will.
However, in all the cases, was any problem ever solved? If anything, more problems were created. Roaming in foreign lands and shouting to high heaven that you need to be rescued will not serve any purpose. Better to humble yourself and talk to your brother/sister and resolve your differences than to rush to the more powerful West for your miraculous salvation.
Mr. Nyamwasa and his friends in exile have claimed that their lives were in danger because President Kagame is a dictator and they cannot talk. Even in this case, a court’s decision is skirted and they want the world to see that it’s the Kagame hand.
But Rwandans know that a dictator wouldn’t turn against somebody they were ‘dictating’ together. In any case, did they wait until circumstances forced them into exile for their eyes to open to this dictatorship? Rwandans know that the heat of transparency and clean leadership forced them to cut and run.
However, even if you were to convince outsiders, the days of Western armies, intelligence services and mercenaries toppling governments are long gone.
Therefore, the renegade four and their bedfellows in the so-called ‘opposition’ should know that only Rwandans hold their lifeline. The solution of their problems lies in seeking dialogue with compatriots. Problem is, these compatriots will not lend you their precious ear unless you give them their due respect.
And heaping abuses on their choice is not called respect. When 93% of these compatriots wake up in the wee hours to go and give as resounding vote of confidence to their choice, they have seen in President Kagame a man who serves their interests.
Their choice is a man who leads a government that “puts the citizens at the centre of the decision-making process”. President Kagame’s own words, yes, and they speak to everyone’s expectations. And so does the fact that the government continues “to build information systems in order to implement … principles of democratic and accountable government across all levels” of the Rwandan society.
The man who serves their interests is that one who goes down to the ground and works with every single Rwandan to ‘manufacture’ a future that will be good for them and their successive generations.
Rwandans are busy putting the bricks of that future together and have no time for distractions, but a brother/sister is a brother/sister. Swallow your pride and apologise and they will listen. A court’s decision, though, is another thing even if a way can be found.
Otherwise, wail for outside help and you’ll be in the cold until cows come home. You can shout all you want and beat your chest to proclaim the immunity you enjoy but all that will always ring hollow as long as you don’t have that all-important stamp of approval from your fellow Rwandans and their leader.
It’s interesting how these renegades think that by shouting “oppression” to the outside world, Rwandans will see their leadership as one. In reality, Rwandans are bemused because they see the renegades only as ‘tickling themselves and laughing’! Outsiders of a negative bent may see what they want.
The decision of any Rwandan court binds Rwandans and their leader. You violate any law at your own peril.