About me.

Andrew M. Mwenda is the founding Managing Editor of The Independent, Uganda’s premier current affairs newsmagazine. One of Foreign Policy magazine 's top 100 Global Thinkers, TED Speaker and Foreign aid Critic



Thursday, August 23, 2012

A battle six years in the making

My latest attempt to qualify Rwanda’s progress to the incredulous mind of a critic

Over Christmas, Timothy Kalyegira and I got involved into a heated SMS exchange about Rwanda, a subject I am deeply interested in and one that he is equally obsessed with without noticing it. I had told Timothy that Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame were having a relaxed and cordial Christmas in Rwakitura as part of the effort to reconcile themselves and their two countries. Below are excerpts for anyone to read and judge for themselves.

Timothy Kalyegira (TK):
For a deep and enduring healing between Tutsi and Hutu to take place in Rwanda, a similar gesture towards Victoire Ingabire, given the reality of these traditional and sentimental societies of ours, can go much further in stabilizing Rwanda than an over emphasis on efficient government bureaucracy and building infrastructure.

Andrew Mwenda (AM)
But Ingabire does not represent Hutus as you think. The current commissioner general of prisons of Rwanda is a former commander of FDLR. The current commander of the reserve force of Rwanda was chief of military intelligence for FDLR. Jeannette Kagame’s personal assistant is a daughter of Kayibanda. So many Hutus who were opposed to RPF have come back and reconciled. You ignore all of them (actually you do not know about them).
But Rwanda is doing more than what you are asking for. Are you aware that 55 percent of the officer corp of the RDF are ex-FAR (the army under former President Habyarimana)? Are you also aware that the constitution of Rwanda says that no political party can hold more than 50 percent of cabinet posts regardless of the votes it gets? It also says that the president and speaker of parliament cannot come from the same party? Are you aware that the current president of the senate was Kagame’s main challenger in the last elections? Are you aware that Rwanda has a political parties’ forum which meets at least once every month and its chairmanship rotates among all parties regardless of the size? And the decisions of this forum are what influences government policy and legislation?

TK:
Most people, no matter how you discuss and reason with them about religion, will not change their minds. It’s a non-negotiable topic. That is what Rwanda is to you. You abandoned Christianity and today you follow a religion whose church is the RPF and Kagame, the messiah. Nothing will change your mind.

AM:
Now notice that I sent you a list of things you want the government of Rwanda to do; showing that it is doing more than what you are asking for. Rather than challenge me on the very things you ask for, the facts I presented to you, you reply by accusing me of believing in RPF as a religion and Paul Kagame as messiah.
It is that attitude that shows your disinterest in the reality of Rwanda and your obsession with your prejudices about it. In fact, to correct my earlier message, Jeannette Kagame’s executive assistant is daughter of Sindikubwabo, who was president immediately after Habyarimana died (during the genocide). Tim, to ignore all these facts and begin attacking my person is beneath contempt. In fact most Tutsi complain that Kagame has given the country and the revolution over to Hutus especially Hutu women. A common joke in Rwanda is that “If you are not Hutu and a woman, you have no place in Kagame’s Rwanda”.

TK:
Ok running out of airtime. I had to respond to this part on religion. I did not just wake up and start “hating” the RPF. In fact in 1994, with the genocide raging, I wrote an article in New Vision or Monitor urging Museveni’s government to urgently support the RPF. That was before I got new facts.

AM:
Angel Tim is never wrong. I do not expect you to change your mind even in the face of new facts because that is who you are. You have accusations against RPF without proof in logical consistency or factual validity. And you want people to believe them. I have given you facts. You can fly to Rwanda and verify for yourself. Surely, you lack a soul Tim or you are terrified of admitting to being wrong and you prefer to wallow in your prejudices than listen to facts.

TK:
Well, you have not proved that I do not have facts. How you can conclude that I do not have them, I wonder. You will get them, do not worry.

AM:
It’s been six years now of us debating Rwanda. All you have given me are erroneous accusations without factual validity or logical consistency.

TK:
I have not given you my research facts. You will get them. Being the researcher I am, do not imagine I can hold such strong views on Rwanda without getting a few hard facts to back up my views (or bias). I was not born with these views on Kagame and I am not a Hutu with an ethic reason to have them.

AM:
If you had them, I imagine in the six years we have spent debating Rwanda, you would have produced them. But I will give you the benefit of doubt. Yet you refuse to respond to why you think that of all Hutu that Kagame/ RPF has reconciled with, only Ingabire matters. You are obsessed with this one person to the point of ignoring more prominent and powerful and influential Hutu leaders.
Are you aware that the chief of staff of the ex-FAR during the genocide and who had also been Habyarimana’s chief negotiator in Arusha, Marcel Gatsinzi, has been minister of defense until two years ago? Are you also aware that Kayibanda’s sister is the commissioner for the children’s commission? Are you aware that senator Augustine Yamuremye, who also represents Rwanda in the AU parliament for the last eight years, previously minister of foreign affairs, agriculture etc.. is husband to the daughter of Kambanda, the prime minister during the genocide and who has been convicted by ICTR?
Are you also aware that children of genocidaires are being sponsored to study abroad by the government; that even Hutu rebels in Congo send their children to Rwanda who study for free and are given scholarships to study abroad without discrimination because government has a policy of not punishing anyone because of their parents? This is not to mention initiatives at lower levels to return Hutu exiles with amnesty. I can go on and on giving examples of what is happening. You just do not want to admit it, Tim. Of course all this is not to mention government policies and programs that benefit all Rwandans equally- health care, education, infrastructure, agriculture extension services, beautification of villages and towns etc.

TK:
We started arguing about Rwanda in 2006. I am glad you had the foresight to give me the benefit of doubt. I have refused to sympathize with Gen. Nyamwasa just because he fell out with Kagame. Why? My research shows he has blood on his hands. So it’s not as if anything anti-Kagame I support. I am looking for the truth. Kagame and the RPF have never hurt, cheated or disadvantaged me in any way, so I do not have reason to oppose them, except because of facts. Even if Rwanda became a glittering G-7 economy tomorrow, my views on the RPF and Kagame would not change. As a moralist and interested in justice, it is the trail of blood of the RPA that interests me, not in beautiful streets. No doubt, however, that in public administration the RPF has been fairly good.

AM:
Did RPF kill? You bet it did. I do not expect any war without collateral damage. The standard is whether a movement killed indiscriminately. On this ground, RPF is a sane movement. Second, you claim RPF killed but have not presented any facts to back up your claims. Even if you gave those facts, we still have to assess whether any such killings were indiscriminate and therefore a character of the organization or if they were incidental and therefore acts of errant officers.

TK:
If, as I do my research, I discover that my data or facts about the RPF’s trail of blood are wrong, I will publically, in a written article, apologize for having misunderstood them. And from that point, I will start liking Kagame and RPF and I will not care whether or not Kigali has fast internet.
On April 15, 2005 when the Daily Monitor ran that day’s installment of your biographical series with Obote, when Obote gave his side of the Luwero massacres, I sent you an emotional SMS thanking you for your part in shedding light on that crucial point of Ugandan history. If I were to discover that the information I have about the RPF is wrong, I would visit the Rwandan embassy and apologize. That genocide is very important and personal for point scoring or ego.

AM:
Are you aware that of the 54 percent of women serving in Rwanda parliament almost half of them are from the forests of Congo where they had run for refugee from RPF and were afraid to return until they returned? It is unfortunate the government of Rwanda cannot come out to list all these things because first it seeks to promote people on merit than tribe, and second because it wants to avoid such categorizations.

TK:
Some of what you are telling me, I did not know and I am taking note. That’s how I do research: listening to all sides. As I have said, if my research proves wrong about the RPA/RPF, what else? Over questions of human life and blood, I will be glad to fully acknowledge my prior erroneous position. I have researched the RPF from the early days of Tutsi refugees in Uganda; these refugees joining the GSU and state research bureau; the first Rwandan association in 1979, formation of the RPF and the house where it was held; the Tutsi elite in Kampala who fell out with Kagame in 1987; the planning meetings for the1990 invasion; the first month inside Rwanda; deaths of Rwigyema and company; the first bodies floating to Kagera river in 1994 genocide.

AM:
I am waiting to read your findings and subject them to a forensic audit for both their factual validity and logical consistency. Four days later, I sent Tim an extra SMS on this subject: I have been meaning to reply to you on the importance you attach to human rights in your assessment of countries and leaders. For a man who has made it his mission to white wash Idi Amin’s atrocities, this was very shocking to me. For a man who has always praised western economic dominance, especially the United States (a nation build on black slave labor and genocide of the indigenous people on America), I just cannot understand you anymore.

1 comment:

city said...

thanks for posting.