Kagame Is a Sore Loser – The Case of Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa’s Union Trade Centre

By David HIMBARA

General Paul Kagame seized and auctioned off Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa’s US$20 million Union Trade Centre (UTC) shopping mall. The East African Court of Justice ordered the regime to compensate Ayabatwa for lost income and damages, after ruling that the seizure/auctioning of UTC was illegal. Then, Kagame made a U-turn. He turned to a Rwandan court to convict Ayabatwa to a 10-year prison sentence and a US$2.2 million fine for “stealing” money from UTC. This is a case study of being a sore loser.

On November 28, 2020, the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) ruled that the government of General Paul Kagame’s seizure of Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa’s US$20 million UTC in 2013 and the subsequent auctioning of the mall in 2017 at half of its price were illegal. EACJ ordered the Kagame government to account for the rental and sale proceeds realized from the UTC and to compensate Ayabatwa for general damages.

Then, Kagame made U-turn. He immediately circumvented the finding of the EACJ by instituting domestic proceedings aimed at covering up the matter at EACJ. On June 24, 2021, the Rwandan High Court convicted Ayabatwa of embezzling UTC and sentenced him to a 10-year imprisonment and a fine of RWF 2,52,652,227 or US$2.2 million. What we are witnessing here is a government that illegally grabbed an asset of a citizen, auctioned it for less than half of its price, lost a case in a court of law, appealed the case, and retried the case in a domestic court. Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa will have none of this, as he explained:

“It is now eight years since the Rwandan government illegally seized my business. But we are patient. As is often said, the wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine. UTC shopping mall will be reclaimed by its rightful owners in accordance with the rule of law. The truth always prevails.”

General Kagame is not only a sore loser but also never heard of the famous phrase “a government of laws, not men.” Kagame’s regime is not a government of laws. It is not even a government of men – it is a one-man dictatorship. Stay tuned.

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