Jennifer Fierberg Interviewed Noble Marara on Rwanda, Political Parties, and the Rwandese living in diaspora
By: Jennifer Fierberg with Noble Marara
JF: You have been away from Rwanda for more than ten years. Your series ‘Behind the Presidential Curtains’ has exposed many unknown facts about President Paul Kagame and how he governs Rwanda. What are your thoughts on the current state of Rwanda and the RPF?
For over a quarter century the RPF has been in power with no in country opposition voice. Yet, political parties are flowing around the globe with all of them indicating the intention to change the Central African nation of Rwanda, Known as the 1000 hills country with a population of 11 million people and covers a territory of 26,338 square kilometres (10,169 square miles). Rwanda is known as the most overpopulated country in Africa per capita.
The RPF government boasts of freedom and peace however the problems surrounding this country are evident. For example, failure in reconciliation with Tutsi’s complaining that their killers were not punished and the RPF participation in killing Hutu’s going unnoticed by the ruling party. Extreme injustice is pervasive in the court processes plus the multiple invasion of neighbouring DRC while supporting and arming many rebel war lords as well as the collaboration with the west to milk the minerals of the DRC. Political leaders remain prisoned with the killings of civilians one by one. There is mass exodus of former service men leaving the country along with government ministers. There are so many refugees in foreign lands that the Rwandan government does not know the number, most of the refugees in countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique South Africa,, Congo Brazzaville Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, Namibia as well European countries are all hosting the Rwandan refugees. Even though the Rwandan government never managed to count the number of these people only indicates its population as 11 million.
JF: Many in the international community boast of the remarkable development in Kigali since 1994 and attribute this to President Kagame but many also believe this development is not sustainable. What are your thoughts on this?
NM: Even though Rwanda indicates a slight economic development which only benefits a few that work within the system and
alongside President Kagame the majority remain below poverty levels and farmers are mandated what to grow instead of subsistence farming to feed their families. Kigali city underwent a face lift that gained praise from Western backers boasting of the incredible development. The face lifting of Kigali made it the world market of minerals from DRC with a strong security in Kigali. President Kagame has managed to make stronger friendships in the Western European countries than his own neighbours, he has lost neighbours and kept Blair, Clinton and other celebrities.
JF: There appear to be numerous opposition groups operating outside of Rwanda who oppose the Kigali regime.
How many are there and are there collective goals in this pursuit of political power?
NM: Surprisingly, Rwanda has a large number of political parties all promising change for every Rwandan inside and outside the country. There are approximately twenty four parties as follows:
- ISHEMA Party
- AMAHORO-People Congress
- RDI-Rwanda Rwiza
- Rwanda People Party IMVURA
- FDU-Inkingi – Nkiko
- FDU-Inkingi – Ndahayo
- RNC – Rwanda National Congress
- Social Party Imberakuri A
- Social Party Imberakuri B
- Social Party Imberakuri C
- Democratic Green Party of Rwanda
- Rwandan Patriotic Front
- Rwanda Liberal Party
- Christian Democratic Party
- Islamic Democratic Party
- Party for Progress and Concord
- Rwandan Socialist Party
- PDR – IHUMURE
- The Communist Party of Rwanda
- MLR Liberation Movement Rwanda
Those are a few of the reasons why Rwanda develops political parties every night, and surprisingly every political party born has to make its own radio station. Sometimes I wonder what my fellow Rwandese think of change, to many it seems like having a political party is changing the system inside Rwanda. For those who were born between 1960-1980’s I think we have a lot of questions to answer to the young generation but unfortunately we do not recognise this. For those in power you have continued to plant hate without knowing because of the total failure to recognise that the Hutu’s lost their loved ones and should have the right to remember those who perished during the genocide at the hands of the soldiers who were to save them. Those of us who are in exile, we have to recognise the failure and divisions caused by a few which is total damage to the struggle most of us have engaged in of building the hearts of the Rwandese who lost confidence in themselves and in the RPF system working on true reconciliation that suits us all. To make things worse we have even developed the people who deny there was genocide in Rwanda, shame on you if that is how you think.
As we remember our loved ones that perished during the war, those who do not believe their ears, I call upon my brothers and sisters to join their arms and remember together without discriminating. I also call my brothers and sisters to work together, wherever they are, without looking at the nose height or skin colour but as brothers who share a lot. I believe that the Rwandese people have realised that most of the leaders who ruled our tiny nation were only focused on their own interests.
It’s time to work together with the aim of a change for everyone. Rwanda, with almost thirty political parties as indicated above that goal may be unreachable, because all of these political parties and organisations are speaking the same language as follows: Reconciliation, proper Justice, Equal Rights, Freedom of speech and so on. I wonder why these opposition parties can’t work together. Most all of these political groups are a mess and disorganized. Instead of working together in a joint effort to reach the same goals they seem to be seeking power and privilege just as the RPF sought in 1990 and 1994. Sometimes it is one opposition group taking on a fellow opposition group with the same views which leaves me gobsmacked. The infighting among these groups only leaves the RPF in laughter knowing that the disorganization will only lead to the failure of any group to truly challenge the ruling party.
JF: I understand you were recently featured in a dialogue on Radio Ijwi Ryarubanda for more than an hour but the host refused to air the interview. Can you explain what happened and why he refused to play the interview on air?
A few days ago I listened to radio Ijwi Ryarubanda, this radio is stationed in London and is an internet radio. I had always participated on it, being interviewed on some of my monthly articles (Behind the presidential curtains), at some point a friend called and said that the journalist on that particular radio was using what Rwanda calls Subversive ideas, and then later I had a chance and listened to this radio presenter calling some of the ex-combatants “cold blooded and killers.’’ I was gobsmacked! He also called our beloved king “an old man.” After a few weeks I attended an interview on this particular radio in the format of a debate with a number of people calling in to speak to me expressing very constructive ideas. The main purpose was to discuss about my writings on why I argued that President Paul Kagame will never leave power, that he would instead make a Putin style play for continued power. So most callers contributed with a number of appreciations, but one of the callers asked me why the Rwandese people cannot manage to work together for a better change? Being myself I said that, with people such as the presenter who is hosting us today it will take us a long time, I explained how he sees everyone who had contact with RPF government as a killer, which is discriminating. I said to the presenter that, “my brother no one should judge the other only Justice and it is not every RPF follower that participated in the killings and so as the MRND as well.” I requested that he should use his radio to join us not to divide us; I could hear the presenter breathing like someone who is inhaling Nebuliser. He sounded unhappy and decided to shut down the programme however promising that the two areas should be discussed next time with me, (the RPF followers and the King). The presenter agreed to allow the whole interview will be heard on air which he never allowed in the end. Instead he inserted an old version of my interviews, to avoid the conclusion of my positive criticism which sounded negative to him. My message to Ijwiryarubanda, the presenter known as Simeon Musengimana, these are the people we are trying to work together and reconcile our loved ones.
But then you ask yourself Rwanda experienced ethnic tensions associated with the traditionally unequal relationship between Tutsi’s and Hutus, what about the children born between those two tribes? What about the Twa’s also why can’t we accept that enough is enough and at least try the rule of law?
JF: Do you believe there can ever be peace and reconciliation between the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa and what will it take for that to happen?
NM: After 1959 ethnic relationship was reversed, when civil war prompted Tutsis to flee to neighbouring countries, the most notorious of these began in April 1994, when genocide and revenge saw both sides being killed and others running to neighbouring countries. Those who headed to DRC were not spared, according to the mapping report it was the RPF soldiers shooting at the innocent civilians, it was that the shooting down of the plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart near Kigali triggered what appeared to be a coordinated attempt by some Hutu leaders to eliminate the Tutsi population in 1994. After that President Kagame has ruled Rwanda with a strong hand combined with a smile on his face which has helped him to strengthen his lies for almost 20 years.
JF: In July 2013 the Rwanda Cessation Clause will go into effect essentially denying Rwandan Refugees their benefits they receive in foreign countries. Rwanda boasts that it is a safe place and that the threats that drove out refugees no longer exist. Is this similar to how Rwanda forced the refugees in DRC back home in 1994 after the genocide only later to be arrested and accused of genocide crimes? Should Rwandese abroad be in fear of this mandate?
NM: The Government of Rwanda indicates failure in dividing the land, also explaining that Rwanda is over populated. What is the point of forcing people to go back to that compound when they are actually struggling to divide it? All we need is the right to travel in and out. Those returning should be very concerned for their safety in regards to legal accusations.