By David Himbara
Despite the fact that President Paul Kagame has already rigged the elections, the major general is terrified.
A good example of rigging is the fact that the presidential campaign in Rwanda will not start until July 14, and close on August 3, 2017.
That is a mere 20 days to reach 30 districts where over 6 million Rwandan voters are located.
That is pure electoral thuggery and thieving – it is impossible to campaign in such a short period.
And yet Kagame is still terrified of Diane Shima Rwigara, and is determined to rig her out even before campaigning begins.
The regime claims that Rwigara has fallen short of 600 signatures required in all 30 districts to qualify as a presidential candidate. In reality, Rwigara presented more than 900 signatures – which is remarkable.
It is spectacular success because Rwanda is a police state in which citizens are afraid to perform any acts that may offend the power. And yet Rwandans dared take a risk and signed for Rwigara.
So what might happen? The regime will intensify its harassment and intimidation in the districts to ensure that Rwigara does not gather signatures. And even if she gets them, the regime will say she did not.
Whether rigged out or not, Diane Shima Rwigara has already won in one important way. Here is a compatriot who defiantly told Kagame to his face that he runs a violent and fear-mongering autocratic state that is the architect of poverty in Rwanda. Such audacity terrified Kagame – and would terrify any autocrat because they are a funny bunch. They seem so powerful on the outside but are so deeply cowardly inside. The British statesman Sir Winston Churchill best described this phenomenon:
You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police … yet in their hearts there is unspoken fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts: words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home – all the more powerful because forbidden – terrify them. A little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.
When Kagame hears Rwigara say that she will fight lies with the truth, he becomes terrified. Her weapons are audacity, defiance, truth, a Bible and her Mother. This weaponry is enough to throw the Rwandan potentate into utter panic.