RWANDAN SOCIETY TODAY
In Rwanda today, no one can dare deny the heavy air of suspicion, fear and unease present in all spheres of life. Like any dictatorship, our society has been permeated by the regime’s spies. The infamous Brigadier General Jack Nziza and Colonel Dan Munyuza have an elaborate and extensive network of spies deployed to “find out what society is thinking or talking” so these spies have camouflaged their presence in bars, hotels, nightclubs, Government offices, airports, buses, cell phone companies and other locations. The very fabric of the Rwandan society was twisted and destroyed so much so that a culture of impunity has emerged, a culture of lies, disrespect, trickery and intrigue has firmly taken root. For example, the association of Hoteliers held a “security” meeting with members of the police in an effort to sensitize them in security matters. What shocked many hoteliers was that they were asked to file a report of any incidents of prominent people who were in the company of members of the opposite sex (not spouses) who were seeking a hotel room! In short, the police insist on knowing who is sleeping with whom!
· Another example, every year Rwanda Revenue Authority has monetary targets the Government expects them to meet. One of the measures it has taken is to say that if a trader under-declares his taxes then the RRA has been authorized to access his/her bank accounts and force them to pay the rightful amount. This has forced many traders to keep cash in their homes or in neighboring countries with sound banking policies.
· Telephone conversations have become comical because of the cryptic language Rwandans have adopted because it is well known that “big brother” is listening and recording. MTN is literally “MTN wherever you go”.
· RwandAir has one or two air marshals on every flight that is meant to dupe unsuspecting Rwandans that these marshals are there for security purposes, whereas they are actually spies meant to record the whereabouts/travels of targeted Government Officials, businessmen and Kagame’s imagined enemies. Nairobi and Entebbe airports are flooded with these young tactless spies!
· Another disturbing trend taking root in Rwanda, propagated by Paul Kagame himself, is the use of “adultery” to blackmail those who don’t easily succumb to his manipulations. Minister Protais Musoni and General Karenzi Karake are some of the known examples whose misfortune was happily played out in Government newspapers while Kagame savoured every moment with delight! The president has taken to turning Husband against wife, child against a parent, neighbor against neighbor, to the extent that friendships do not exist in Rwanda, people live isolated lives!
The question is how do we rid ourselves of this dictatorship and rectify our Rwandan traditions of “ubupfura” and “inyangamugayo”?
Make a decision to defeat Paul Kagame.
Many times people expect others to fight the battle for them because of all kinds of excuses, but if you fight the battle as if your life depended on it, then your goals will be easily achieved. We must be dedicated and almost fanatical in our removal of this dictatorship. Dictatorship is either good for Rwanda or it is something that must be eliminated and uprooted. Either way, we must clearly understand what we really want and get busy making it happen.
Envision a Democratic Rwanda.
No one should be under any illusion that democracy will take hold in Rwanda overnight! It will be a lengthy process, but the immediate benefits of taking the necessary steps (non-violently) toward that ideal are worth taking. We need to revise the Constitution. The 2003 constitution has been amended many times to accommodate and provide absolute power and immunities to the President while in power and out. The constitution provides for absolute executive authority. Unless this is changed, there is no rule of law nor checks and balances.
The Rwandan electoral laws are grossly unfair and tilted in favor of the ruling party. There is no level playing field. Other parties participate in elections to legitimize the results. Compilation of voting registers, methodology of voting, timing, duration before counting votes, tallying, announcement and access of observers is very faulty.
The chairman and officials are RPF functionaries. In other countries, chairpersons are normally retired judges, but in Rwanda, Karangwa is an RPF Commissioner and still attends all RPF Politico bureau meetings.
Starve the Beast
If we are clear about what we really want (a free, democratic and peaceful Rwanda) and if we are convinced that the dictatorship needs to be overturned, then we should not blink about taking steps toward that goal. When the leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) advocated for sanctions and disinvestments against the minority regime in South Africa during apartheid, it is not because they did not know those sanctions would not hurt their fellow average South Africans. They believed, and history has now proven them right, that the long-term dividends are much greater than the short-term pains. In the end, they proved to the world that they loved their
country more than those who were accusing them from their moral high horses. If the dictatorship in Rwanda is a three legged stool upon which Paul Kagame sits, then those three legs can be felled one at a time or all at once. Those three legs being, Donor funds, the brutal killing machine in form of his intelligence and police network and his much touted Rwanda Revenue. This is the umbilical cord that feeds our Dictator.
To defeat Paul Kagame is to unequivocally break at least one or two of the three leg stools he sits on.
If enough Rwandans organize themselves inside and outside the country and coordinate their efforts (a fact that has yet to materialize fully) will not need any third party to take the lead to unseat our own homegrown despot.
However, it is the duty of everyone who wishes to see a democratic change to shake off the
dictator from the stool.
Partner with Change Agents INSIDE Rwanda
No matter how you slice and dice it, the very people that are now under the direct or indirect
control of the regime are our best hope for a quick end to Rwanda’s misery.
Would anyone of us on the opposition side of the political spectrum have a problem if any group from within the system topples Paul Kagame tomorrow morning and calls for all Rwandan political and civic groups to step forward and work toward a transition toward democratic governance? In all honesty, if a “Tunisian” uprising took place today in Rwanda; would we look the other way?
However, if we are willing to take our time and establish relations with the rank and file of the regime, there is a great possibility that a certain sector will move against the dictator and be a hero of our Second Revolution. In order to increase the likelihood of this, we have to
recognize who our true adversaries are, who the hostage taker is counting on for help and who
is most likely to side with the hostages and rescuers – even at the final hour. There are far too many wolves in sheep’s skin at the moment that our Dictator is fully controlling that we are unaware of.
Systematic and Impeccable Organization
Often times, we fool ourselves into believing that the Rwandans are divided into two camps of “pro-Kagame” and “opposition” followers. We tend to ignore the uncomfortable notion that there is a third camp, a more important and larger camp of people who are indifferent. Some of them are on the fence, unable to make their mind up or are trying to test the winds of change. But, still that is a small minority compared to the vast majority who honestly believing this fight has little to do with their personal lives. They go about their daily lives
unaffected and mange to keep the news and debates away from their daily routines. We can hardly call them “independents” because it is not like they are waiting to be convinced. They simply haven’t found the right incentive to get involved thus far because they are paralysed by fear of the almighty Kagame. They believe that Kagame’s power is undefeatable but most of all they are apathetic. One sure way to have the upper hand in the fight against President Kagame is to wake up this sleeping giant, which is mostly made up of young men and women, with enough technology and education at their disposal but who has been disillusioned by the continued cycle of bad leadership in Rwanda. How do we motivate them to join the struggle?
Paul Kagame is not an ideologue. He does not seem to subscribe to any set of core beliefs about governing, philosophy or values. He ascended to power by mistake after the death of our charismatic leader, General Fred Rwigyema. Kagame was and is as unpopular as he remains today. But there are a few notable traits that seem to explain everything he does. They may give us a clue about his flawed character, which is important to know because ever since he came to power, he has been trying to create organizations that are basically extensions of his personality and his temperament. Not surprisingly, Rwanda under Paul Kagame is now very secretive, paranoid, arrogant, brutal and unforgiving. When the dictator exits the scene, a lot of these negative traits will have to be flushed out of the Rwandan system – but only if we believe them to be detrimental and not beneficial. We have lost the true Rwandan values that many of us were brought up with by our parents and forefathers.
To flush out Paul Kagame-ism, we need to stand for the complete opposite of his traits and attitudes that have now become part of the fabric that make up our society. Kagame-ism may have been created by the dictator but we should take responsibility and blame for having cheered, cherished, applauded and nurtured this dictatorship to the point that it is the monster that has come to hound us today! We have learnt a very harsh lesson and we can only pray to god that this kind of leadership should be the LAST of its kind to ever take root on Rwandan soil!
Edited by: Jennifer Fierberg