August 2014: The Defining Moment for President Paul Kagame’s Rwanda

A defining moment refers to a point when the essential character of a person is revealed. When in future, historians look back to August 2014, they will find this month to mark the time even the most determined Kagame admirers quietly jumped the sinking ship.

I advance five factors:

First, in its August 2014 Economic Update, the World Bank gave a series of shocking statistics about “Singapore of Africa”; 73% of Rwandan economic activities are nontradables (not things that can be imported or exported but consumed locally); 20% of gross national income comes from foreign aid; 86% of capital formation (net additions of capital stock such as equipment, buildings, roads and other infrastructure) comes from aid;

Second, the long-awaited trial of would-be assassins of Kayumba Nyamwasa drew to a conclusion with the judge declaring the failed murder was politically-motivated, directly linked to Rwanda.

Third, three senior military officers were jailed for possession of firearms and “spreading rumors.”

Four, in the RPF meeting chaired by Kagame, senior cadres competed to denounce their comrades – all with a goal to please the chairman; perhaps the most shocking was a sister who condemned a sister for belonging to a different political party.

Lastly, the Rwandan national football team was thrown out of the African tournament for cheating by fielding a Congolese player.

In August 2014, Rwanda that has been packaging itself as a model developmental state, showed its true colors – a weird pariah regime.


David Himbara