By David Himbara
I thought I was a keen observer of Rwandan politics and economics who doesn’t miss a thing. Evidently I am not as attentive as I thought. A Rwandan-based human rights activist and a regular follower of my writings, who shall remain nameless for her safety, took me to task for failing to share my views on what she calls “the biggest surprise that wasn’t a surprise” in Rwanda in 2022. I hastily asked her to explain “the biggest surprise that wasn’t a surprise” in Rwanda in 2022. Her explanation was as follows:
“Our dictator who as you know has ruled us with an iron fist for nearly 30 years announced in July 2022 what many considered to be a surprise that wasn’t surprising at all. Our cutthroat ruler declared that he “has no problem” with remaining in power for another 20 years. The proverbial saying “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” perfectly describes our man – and this is no surprise.”
I admitted to my compatriot that indeed I had not followed this episode. She directed me to General Paul Kagame’s interview with the French TV channel, France24 conducted in July 2022. Sure enough, the Rwandan strongman dropped a surprise that was hardly surprising. As he put it to the interviewer, “I will consider running [for the presidency] for the next twenty years and I have no problem with that.”
Twenty years from now will be 2043 and the Rwandan strongman will be 86 years old. He will have ruled Rwanda for 49 years. Comparatively, Paul Biya who has ruled Cameroon for 41 years is 89 years old. Teodoro Obiang Nguema who has ruled Equatorial Guinea for 44 years is 81 years old. Robert Mugabe who ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years, was 93 years old when he was overthrown in 2017. Stay tuned.