I find the current state of political affairs in Rwanda extremely disturbing. The political clique in Kigali seems to have gone berserk. For many years now, dissenting voices have been muted and perceived influential figures killed. Today, we see an escalation of all this. Rwanda is not in good terms with nearly all its neighbouring countries mainly because of its leaders’ apparent arrogance and disregard of other countries’ territorial sovereignty. Previously friendly countries like South Africa are in the process of reconsidering their relationship with Kigali. Despite all this, the Rwandan government continues to play its usual blame-game (everyone but Kigali is wrong).
Unfortunately, this strange diplomacy puts every Rwandan and anyone of Rwandan ancestry in the region and beyond at risk.
Since 1959 Tutsi refugees have been accommodated and settled in Uganda, Tanzania, DRC (then Zaire), Burundi, Kenya and many other countries. Since 1994, Hutu refugees have enjoyed the same privileges in these countries. President Kagame’s and his clique’s ascension to power, previous refugee life and/or military experience in these countries automatically reminds them of how their government can be toppled from outside. Remember, the RPF/A bush war was largely fought and financed by Rwandans in diaspora. Moreover, both Tutsis and Hutus are now seriously aggrieved and willing to strike a balance in a bid to create a conducive atmosphere for freedoms and sustainable reconciliation in Rwanda. This makes Kagame and his sycophants very nervous. They appear to be threatened by the presence of a big number of Rwandans in neighbouring and distant countries whose daily activities are not entirely in their ‘pockets’.
To keep these foreign-based Rwandans in check, some greedy and senseless elements of the Rwandan diaspora have been used by the government of Rwanda to destabilise and spy not only on their fellow Banyarwanda but also on the countries that have fully integrated them. Obviously, the government of Rwanda also employs non-ethnic-Rwandans to carry out or cover up its nasty operations in their own countries. Unfortunately, the involvement of some naturalised ethnic Banyarwanda in espionage and other destabilising operations for Kagame and his clique leaves genuine Banyarwanda exposed to distrust by their host countries. If not curbed, this distrust may lead to serious problems for Banyarwanda as their countries of residence will be compelled to defend their territorial sovereignty.
Unsurprisingly, any conflict between Banyarwanda and their hosts would serve Kagame as the former might be forced to surrender their wealth and run to Rwanda (read ‘government pocket’) for “protection”. Following the precedent of Kinyarwanda-speaking Congolese refugees in Rwanda, one would rightly predict that these Banyarwanda would be welcomed by Rwandan authorities and accommodated in refugee camps for easy control and manipulation. Having been reduced to “homeless” refugees with limited freedom of speech, these formally self-reliant Banyarwanda would no longer be seen as a threat to Kagame’s regime. This scary scenario is undesirable and must be avoided at all costs.
Finally, I would like to emphasise that any Rwandan who, on behalf of the government of Rwanda, undermines the security and peaceful coexistence of fellow Rwandans in diaspora is highly damaging. It is high time Rwandans in diaspora made a concerted effort to fight these negative elements whose egoistic activities not only endanger our lives but also negatively affect our social interaction and trust by communities around us. These host countries and communities deserve nothing less than respect and loyalty.
Eng. Emmanuel Ngarambe