“Despotism is a long crime”

In another interview of President Paul Kagame Time Magazine sat with him and asked him questions ranging from all the current issues the President is dealing with today. Paul Kagame offered very frank answers but one question in-particular stood out like a glaring beacon of admission to a crime.

The world knows His Excellency has many crimes to answer for, despite his denial, but it seems he has given himself up in a very public way. The following is the question and answer that President Kagame gave in response to opposition groups who oppose his rule:

TIME: Let me pick up on that, in a different context. You’re firm. Opposition groups, exiles make allegations that there are assassination teams wandering around trying to kill them, that when it comes to opposition, whether it’s expressed in journalism or politics, that Rwanda is a narrow space.

Kagame: We have a very narrow space for people who feel they are not accountable. If there anybody who thinks they are above the law, who thinks they are not accountable to the systems and the laws of this country, and if somebody thinks they can use any means for their political ends, they discover very quickly that this is not going to work. Some of things that happened here will never happen again.

Now, unfortunately, while I’m putting it this way, people build on it and say: ‘He is saying something else. It’s political space.’ But let me say this. If you look at all these people who are outside – all of them who are active, whether it is in South Africa, a couple in the US, and the others – there is not a single one who does not have a serious case, a charge here in Rwanda. In some cases, not even political, outright criminal. If we are going to have people out there claiming persecution of some kind but actually it is somebody running away from a case of, say, corruption, how does that become lack of political space? Nobody here who tried to have a different political view was punished for that.

This one in South Africa, [dissident General] Kayumba [Nyamwasa, former Rwandan army chief of staff, now living in self-imposed exile in South Africa, where two attempts have been made on his life] is saying in the press in South Africa, actually I was trying to make a coupe happen. If you have somebody out there saying ‘I wanted to carry out a coup,’ and later on he is shot, maybe he deserves it. Because a coup means he wanted to kill people here. You are really indicting yourself by saying ‘I wanted to kill people in order to make a change happen.’ It’s like you are really declaring war on a country.

Read the full interview here

Now, to the average reader not familiar with General Kayumba Nyamwasa’s court case this would seem a plausible answer. Yet, to those who have followed this case it appears that General Paul Kagame, by his own admission in the above interview, was behind the hit squad sent to South Africa to execute Nyamwasa yet failed in two attempts.

The most obvious reason that this is a glaring admission is that Kagame justifies the attempted assassination, which occurred in 2010, to a newspaper interview General Nyamwasa gave in July 2012. Why would he justify an attempt to kill an opponent two years before the opponent was supposedly attempting a coup? Or six months before the political party, The Rwanda National Congress, which Nyamwasa is a founding member of, was even announced? This justification does not add up.

In regards to the accusation by President Kagame in this interview that General Kayumba Nyamwasa was planning a coup against him, as reported erroneously in City Press of South Africa in which Rwanda has financial stake in, General Nyamwasa had the following to say to this reporter, “I was misquoted, I am not plotting. RNC operates openly not plotting. The journalist tried to be sensational and used improper word. I belong to the RNC and the strategy is to effect change by peaceful means. Secondly, we are not plotting. Our objectives, strategies, meetings and publications are out in the public domain. People who are plotting do not publish what they intend to do including talking to the journalists. The fact that I talked about peaceful means including open demonstrations is a clear indication that we are firm on employing legal and democratic means. Furthermore, I said war is not one of our options and this is what distinguishes peaceful and violent change.” The City Press article (Found here

When this reporter contacted General Kayumba Nyamwasa regading the Time Magazine interview pertaining to the question about him and he told this reporter the following, “It is common knowledge that whoever calls for reform in Rwanda is branded corrupt if he/ she is Tutsi and genocidaire if he/ she is Hutu. It cannot be different for RNC leaders. DRC has many neighbours, why always Rwanda and Kagame? He should accept his role as a destabilizer and divisive individual. As regards attempted assassination on my life and others, I am glad he put it on record. The interview is punctuated by arrogance and insensitivity – an aggressor claiming victim. Kagame’s lies and deceit cannot persist for ever. The interview gives an insight to all Rwandans and the international community of what a liability Rwanda has for a leader. As long as Kagame remains President, Rwanda will continue to pay a very heavy price.” When asked if this interview to Time Magazine could be admissible in the ongoing court case against those who attempted to assassinate him in 2010 General Nyamwasa stated, “He has never denied that he is a serial killer. He demonstrated insensitivity and arrogance of the highest order. He is scheduled to meet President Kabila on 27th at the UN and yet addresses him in that manner. If DRC has had problems for decades, is that a justification for him to mess it further?”

Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa also had the following to say to this reporter in regard to this admission by President Kagame, “President Paul Kagame is the most corrupt ruler in all of Rwanda’s history. He has so much blood on his hands than any other ruler in Rwanda’s history. He is the most unaccountable ruler Rwanda has ever known, and yet goes around claiming that people who oppose his criminal regime are unaccountable. Time is catching up with him. He has deceived most people all the time. Now the tide against his crimes is rising, and soon he will have nowhere to hide except in a hole or a pipe, as he awaits his day in a court of law.”

In light of the millions of dollars in foreign aid cuts to Rwanda over the last few months he may have considered his words more carefully. I am surprised and in admiration that he has finally admitted to this crime and believe this statement should be admitted into the ongoing court case in South Africa.

Jennifer Fierberg, MSW

Africa Global Village