Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch

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Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Kagame's Rippening Troubles: RPF Founders attack Kagame

President Kagame has enjoyed enormous international reputation as Rwanda's unifying figure and the most African progressive and visionary leader of his times, but  Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, Col. Patrick Karegeya, Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa and Gerald Gahima, all former closest allies, demystify these long held myths, in a joint policy paper accessed by the Newsline
Myth 1:  Kagame as an exemplary strategic thinker and visionary leader:President Kagame is often described by admirers as a visionary leader of exceptional strategic thinking skills.  On the contrary, President Kagame is, in practice, a callous and reckless leader.
His decisions, even on issues which have grave implications, are often driven, more than anything else, by his greed for absolute power.  President Kagame often makes mistakes of phenomenal proportions which lead to dire consequences for the people of Rwanda.  The gravity of President Kagame’s heavy responsibility for some very disastrous decisions is borne out, for example, by his decisions in dealing with the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
Kagame’s condescending and humiliating treatment of President Laurent Kabila unnecessarily turned President Kabila into an enemy, who then started supporting insurgents waging war on Rwanda.  Kagame’s ill-advised and ill-fated decision to launch the second invasion of the DRC (a decision driven by spite more than any other factor that even some of President’s closest advisers counselled against) has had catastrophic consequences for the people of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic Congo.  The invasion thwarted the DRC’s tenuous recovery, destabilised the Great Lakes region even more, cost millions of innocent lives of Rwandans and Congolese, and instigated anti-Rwanda hatred that will be a source of insecurity for Rwanda for generations to come.  The surrogate and proxy forces created and maintained in East DRC led to the rise of Warlords who will continue to hold the DRC government hostage and a drain to the financial resources of Rwanda. In essence Paul Kagame maintains criminal gangs for hire to sustain an obscure and irrational personal adventures not authorized by the national parliament.
President Kagame’s short-sighted refusal to agree to genuine power-sharing arrangements with moderate Hutu parties after the genocide and to allow a transition to genuine democracy has doomed efforts to find a lasting, peaceful settlement of the Rwanda conflict.  His unwillingness to hold those members of the RPA who were responsible for human rights abuses during and after the genocide accountable encouraged impunity.  President Kagame’s responsibility for human rights abuses and his tolerance of rights abuses by some of his officers has undermined the credibility of the RPF. Impunity for human rights abuses is a significant stumbling block to national reconciliation and sustainable peace. 
Kagame’s quest for the presidency doomed the RPF’s faltering attempts to expand its base and to build a constituency  in the Hutu community and condemned the RPF to the status of a party representing the interests of a minority ethnic group that can only stay in power through force.  The systematic harassment of legitimate Hutu leaders who were part of the Transitional government resulted in most of them fleeing to exile. The unlucky ones were assassinated and a few are marginalized and banished to obscurity in Rwanda. Meanwhile Paul Kagame has gone about recruiting fictitious and compromised leaders for the parties that were formerly part of the transition. Essentially the parties have been destroyed through coercion and compromise of non representative leaders. Meanwhile, RPF has co-opted, recruited and forced members of other parties to join its ranks by promising   jobs, money or through forceful recruitment and death threats.
Myth 2:  Kagame is an incorruptible, austere man of absolute integrity:President Kagame and his handlers labour strenuously to portray him as an incorruptible, austere man of absolute integrity.  The reality could not be further from the truth.  The words of Lord Acton, the famous British moralist and historian, to the effect that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” aptly convey Kagame’s transformation over the time he has been in office.  President Kagame is an absolute ruler whose absolute power has corrupted not just him, but the entire Rwandan state in very systemic, pervasive and profound ways. Integrity is about matching words with deeds.  For a public servant, integrity and accountability is about respecting the law, applying the law fairly to all, setting an example (“walking the talk”) and living within the limits that a poor nation’s taxpayers can afford and the laws permit.
Fighting corruption was a key goal of the transformation that the RPF once hoped to bring to Rwanda.  President Kagame has steered RPF away from this and other founding ideals. President Kagame’s supporters cite his stand on misappropriation of public funds as evidence of his personal integrity. 
Rwanda does not, admittedly, have a problem of institutionalised bribery and misappropriation of public resources for personal gain.  However, there is more to corruption than misuse of public funds.  The worst form of corruption is the criminalization of the state in the pursuit of absolute, unaccountable power.  When a leader who is in power puts in place laws and institutions that make it impossible for citizens to exercise their right to political participation; impedes (through means such as denial of registration or licensing, censorship or even outright closure) the functioning of opposition parties, civil society and independent media and their ability to hold government accountable; controls and uses the machinery of the state (especially law enforcement and judicial institutions) to ensure his monopoly of power;  persecutes real and imagined political opponents to the point of killing some and making others victims of enforced disappearance; protects state security officials who kill innocent citizens whose crime is to be perceived as opponents of the government, from being held accountable; and blatantly rigs elections, then that is the ultimate and worst form of corruption.  President Kagame has committed and continues to commit such crimes and human rights abuses.
None of the fair-minded RPF members of the past and present would ever have imagined that the organization would one day be a party that worships its leader like an idol, bans opposition political party activity, silences the press and civil society, steals votes and presides over gross human rights abuses against innocent citizens for which there is no unaccountability.  The English dictionary defines corruption as “impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle”, “depravity”, “decay”, “decomposition”, “inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means”, “a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct”.  If President Kagame’s conduct of government does not fit this description of corruption in public office, what does? 
President Kagame is also responsible for financial impropriety and theft of public resources on a grand scale.  Contrary to the false perception that naive outsiders have of him, President Kagame does not even bother to portray himself as an austere leader, let alone live like one.  Austerity is about living within the means that the country can afford.  President Kagame lives a lifestyle that even the richest people in the world would find lavish.  The President is by far the most expensive ruler that Rwanda has ever had.  Compared to Rwanda’s ancient kings, colonial governors and past presidents, President Kagame’s lifestyle is not just scandalous; it is criminal. President Habyarimana lived in a simple home and only received a salary.  He drove a very old car.  He lived a down-to-earth life and did not, upon his death, leave any significant wealth.  His predecessor, President Kayibanda, lived an even simpler life and may have died a pauper.
President Kagame, on the other hand, lives simultaneously a lavish and ostentatious lifestyle and is a huge drain on the national treasury.  President Kagame has raised neighbourhoods to the ground or sealed them off to the public in order to build luxury palaces, even at a time when housing was in very short supply.  The Rwandan government spends tens of millions of dollars every year to maintain his personal household.  He drives very expensive cars, of which he has a large fleet at any one time.  He changes these fleets very frequently to avail himself of the luxury of every new model. He is obsessed with luxury aircrafts and has spent more than US $150 million on such aircrafts.  President Kagame loves travelling, and he travels very frequently. When travelling, he insists on staying in the most expensive hotel in whatever city he is visiting.
During his time in public office, President Kagame has amassed a fortune beyond imagination for a ruler of such a poor country.  The fortune is drawn from both the national treasury and the vast wealth of the business investments of the RPF. The RPF is the biggest business enterprise in Rwanda.  Some believe it may indeed be the largest commercial enterprise in East and Central Africa.  The flagship holding companies for the vast network of RPF investments are Tri-Star Investments Sarl and the Rwanda Investment Group.  The RPF has investments worth at least hundreds of millions of dollars.  The portfolio of the RPF includes investments in aviation, banking, agriculture, telecommunications, energy, construction, real estate development and management, security, communications and manufacturing (including food processing, cement production etc). The assets of the RPF are, for all practical purposes, the personal wealth of President Kagame.  The RPF does not have any committee or body that oversees all of its assets.  President Kagame spends and manages the vast wealth of the RPF single-handedly.  He alone appoints the senior managers of the various RPF enterprises.  He alone decides in whose names the major bank accounts of the RPF are to be maintained.  He alone decides how the funds on these accounts are spent.  The people in whose names the bank accounts are maintained answer only to President Kagame.  Only President Kagame has information on the complete state of affairs of the RPF’s business investments.  President Kagame never reports to any of the organs of the RPF on the financial affairs of the RPF’s business enterprises.  The President has always ignored calls for transparent over-sight of the business affairs of the RPF. 

The enormous wealth that the RPF has amassed during its time in government is, for all practical purposes, the personal property of President Kagame; and he treats it as such.
The involvement of the RPF in business inside Rwanda has many negative implications.
Apart from the vast fortune of the RPF, President Kagame also has unlimited access to the financial resources of the state.  President Kagame treats the national treasury like a personal bank account.  The President insists on being paid (in addition to his salary and the large budget for the running of his personal household) a large operational fund (worth tens of thousands of dollars every month, that he does not account for.  When travelling, the President takes hard cash of up to $100,000 on every trip that he again does not account for.  Despite the obvious conflict of interest, President Kagame frequently presides over cabinet meetings discussing business transactions between government entities and commercial enterprises belonging to the RPF. 
President Kagame has, on occasions, even ordered the direct transfer of government assets to the business entities of the RPF.  The President has also, on occasions, sanctioned the illegal transfer of government assets to the RPF, as has been demonstrated by the transfer of Global Express jets that were paid for with government funds to the RPF. 
President Kagame’s image of an austere leader of high integrity is a monstrous deception. Kagame sets very high standards of integrity for most of those who serve under him, but is unwilling to live by the same rules.
Myth 3:  Kagame as a reforming, unifying leader.
Uninformed observers credit President Kagame with being a reforming, unifying leader.  While it is true that Rwanda has undertaken many commendable reforms (in the fields of governance, as well as management of the economy) since the end of the genocide, these reforms do not address the root causes of most fundamental problems of Rwandan society. 
The reforms that Rwanda needed most in the aftermath of very violent conflict (including genocide) occasioning intense polarization along the lines of ethnicity, were the establishment of a new basis for the exercise of power, the expansion and deepening of space for the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms, the broadening of popular participation in social, political and economic development and national healing and reconciliation as a foundation for sustainable peace and development.  Organisation of political governance in Rwanda can only lead to sustainable peace if it is inclusive in ethnic and political terms, ensures the protection of the minorities, and is based on fundamental human rights and freedoms. 
The reforms that Rwanda has undertaken under the leadership of President Kagame do not address the root causes of the Rwandan conflict.  President Kagame does not believe in the concepts of democracy, the rule of law, and separation of powers.  He does not believe in the power of ideas.  Kagame, like all dictators, pays only lip service to democracy, but is unwilling to respect or practice its essential elements. He blatantly flouts all tenets of democratic governance. Kagame also refuses to acknowledge that identity-based conflicts can only be resolved by political compromises that lead to inclusive systems.  The President trusts only his use of coercion and repression to achieve his political goals. 
The Rwandan state has not reformed; it has become even more dangerous since it is in the hands of a tiny minority that can only rule through repression and terror.  As a result of President Kagame’s vehement opposition to genuine political reform, the Rwandan government lacks legitimacy within the Hutu community. The RPF’s “natural” constituency of a trusted Tutsi minority is crumbling.  President Kagame has become a polarising figure, whose continued leadership is only certain to lead to perpetuate conflict and to lead to new violence (even of genocidal proportions) in years to come.
President Kagame often receives profuse praise for the efficiency of government services in Rwanda.  A false perception that Kagame is an efficient and effective leader who is building a meritocratic state has captured the imagination of ill-informed outsiders. 
The theory that President Kagame must be an exceptional leader because the Rwandan state functions better than most other places in Africa, is a result of prejudice on the part of people who do not expect anything in Africa to be done right.
The fact is that the Rwandan state has been highly effective for centuries.  The order and efficiency for which outsiders credit Kagame actually predates his ascent to power.  The political and social environment in Rwanda, in fact, constrains productivity and effectiveness.  President Kagame has failed to build institutions based on merit and inclusion.  Rwanda lost much of its human capital during the genocide.  The vast majority of the intelligentsia who survived the war and genocide went into exile and has never returned, largely because of the unfavourable situation for which President Kagame and the RPF bear responsibility.  Rwanda continues to experience a severe brain drain, as many educated and experienced people continue to flee the country to escape repression.  Most of Kagame’s appointments are based on patronage rather than merit.  As Kagame has consolidated his control of the machinery of the state, he has become less inclined to recruit on the basis of merit, relying instead on unquestioning and blind loyalty within an ever-narrowing circle.  The senior management levels of most state institutions are dominated by the Tutsi minority.  A very large number of the people he appoints to senior positions lack basic qualifications or experience for their jobs. 
President Kagame is an extremely emotional, unpredictable, abusive and physically violent employer.  A fearful or marginalised workforce cannot operate at optimum capacity or be creative.  Senior leaders in Rwanda are often paralysed into inaction, fearful of taking decisions before they know what the President’s view is. His natural temperament impairs his capacity to govern responsibly. Few of the people that Kagame appoints to senior management and policy positions ever stay in those offices for long.  There is a very high turnover in government.  The average duration of a minister’s stay in office over the last 16 years is less than two years; time not long enough to make any impact.  Rwanda is operating far below her potential.  An improved political climate would not only ensure sustainability of public services in the long term; it would also lead to better delivery of services in the immediate term.

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