18th February 2011
If Minister Joseph Habineza’s resignation this week shows us anything, it is that it is honourable to own up to one’s actions. In many countries, a minister caught on camera in freehand partying may choose to ride the immediate storm and then play it down until it finally fizzles out. We’ve seen it even with prime ministers.
That Mr Habineza has bowed out without a nudge from government marks him out as different from many who waited to be pushed off their cosy chairs, kicking and screaming. Whatever else he may do after this, at least he appreciates the no-nonsense approach of government to the respect of our constitution.
It is a far cry from the conduct of some leaders who disgraced themselves and now are whining “Kagame dictatorship!” in foreign capitals. Whatever they do, abuse of power is abuse and, even if some foreigners are taken in by the sweet-tongued packages they give to their whines, these fellows will remain disgraced.
Now even one of the joker-group-of-four of Messrs Nyamwasa, Gahima, Karegeya and Dr Rudasingwa is blithely riding on his ego trip and imagining himself giving a speech as president! The four are still jockeying over who should be spokesman of their group, and yet Dr Rudasingwa dares dream of being our leader. That, to Rwandans, would be a nightmare.
But in his long, rambling, sweet-packaged dream, what is the poor doctor wishing for, in a nutshell? First, he lumps all who have ever led Rwanda together and dismisses them as criminals.
There are gallant leaders who consolidated the nation-state of Rwanda before colonialism and after the two post-independence killer-regimes. And somebody insults Rwandans by lumping them together with colonialists and Kayibanda and Habyarimana, who deconstructed the state and sent it to the grave of 1994? That, Rudasingwa, is the height of lunacy.
Second, he goes into pleading for a national dialogue and that’s about all there is to his imagined state-of-the-nation speech. But a national dialogue of eleven million Rwandans in Rwanda and outside is a national dialogue, especially because it excludes a few discredited individuals who were ejected by the ‘Rwanda-body’. Their interests were self-serving and injurious to Rwandans.
In seeking forgiveness for criminals who have not answered for their crimes, or FDLR rebels and génocidaires who have not mended their ways, Rudasingwa is only playing on the psychology of foreigners on whom he and his fellow fugitives seem to pin all their hopes. They know, though, that the roadmap for a better Rwanda does not rest with the advice of outsiders or of a few Rwandans in exile.
Many have fallen for the sweet language of this foursome, but they were not Rwandans. Mr Stephen Kinzer may be one of them: his about-face in an article in ‘The Guardian’, UK, of January 27th 2011, was the case of a man whose deep concern for Rwanda has clouded his capacity to appreciate the intricacies at play in the crafty minds of the four and whoever is behind them.
But, remember, those four also have ever managed to weave their way to top positions in the Rwandan leadership. Kinzer risks his journalistic integrity if he does not detach himself from them for an objective re-examination of their conduct. And the fast and furious responses he got to his write-up said volumes.
He is putting himself in a fix by tying too much the destiny of a country to the actions of four individuals, however close they may have been to the top. In the last 16 years, Rwanda has shrugged off a president, parliamentary speakers, prime ministers, army chiefs, attorneys, ministers, the lot, who never left a scar on its body or slackened its pace forward.
It has never been like Kinzer to make a confident statement one week and disown it the very following week. On 31st December 2010 in the quoted paper, he stated that the Rwandan “regime [was] the best thing that [had] happened to Rwanda since colonialists arrived a century ago.” He went on to explain in glowing terms how Rwandans were “happy with it, thrilled at their future prospects.”
The following week, the same Kinzer confounded his readers by reneging on all his earlier convictions and joining the quartet of ‘fire-criers’! “It may or may not be true, as the four men convicted this month have asserted,” said he, “that Rwanda is ‘again on the brink of an abyss’.” Yesterday Rwanda was “the best thing that happened” and today it is “on the brink of an abyss”? Methinks there is a disconnect somewhere!
And the disconnect may lie in not seeing the difference between President Paul Kagame and what is erroneously termed “former members of his inner circle”. President Kagame’s voice is the voice of eleven million Rwandans in one circle that has no ‘inner’ or ‘outer’ parts to it. The voice of the foursome is the voice of none but the four, and it passes over the heads of a bemusedly silent audience of eleven million Rwandans.
The foursome and their fellow refugees may cry and dream all they want, and Kinzer or anybody else may join them. To Rwandans, none of these endeavours will turn them into an iturufu (a winning card). Only a mea culpa may redeem them.