By David Himbara
General Paul Kagame executed two policy actions in 2016–2017, whose negative impact is being felt by the people he needs most. These are his cabinet ministers, senators, military generals, and other prominent figures in government. The two policy directives were as follows:
- Public servants would no longer rent their properties to businesses, non-governmental organizations and foreign embassies.
- All businesses, non-governmental organizations and foreign missions would no longer operate in rented residential areas — they must operate from areas specifically designated for commercial and office purposes.
With these two actions, Kagame threw his ministers, senators, and generals under the bus
These two actions proved to be utterly disastrous for Kagame’s ministers, senators, and generals. Most of them had over the years built mansions to supplement their incomes by renting them to businesses, NGOs, and foreign embassies. In Nyarutarama, for example, houses rent up to FRw5 million equivalent to $6,000 a month. Some ministers, senators and generals also acquired farms — like Kagame who has a 43-hectare farm at Muhazi.
When Kagame executed the two directives noted above, he plunged his ministers, senators and generals into sudden poverty. They could no longer afford to sustain their lifestyles, especially the following aspects:
- Most of Kagame’s ministers, senators, and generals send their children to universities abroad because of inferior education in Rwanda. Even Kagame’s children studied in the U.S.
- Most of Kagame’s ministers, senators, and generals send their children to secondary schools in Uganda and other countries in the region.
The latest news from Rwanda indicate that the situation now facing Kagame’s ministers, senators, and generals is rather desperate. They have no extra income from rents. Even selling their houses, as opposed to renting them out is not an option. There are hardly any buyers in Rwanda today.
A typical mansion at Nyarutarama, Kigali, sells for FRw250 million equivalent to $293,632.00. Few people can afford such properties. Furthermore, these houses were built on bank loans and are in danger of being auctioned.
Kagame’s ministers, senators, and generals, are now trapped — they can find neither renters nor buyers of their mansions. It appears that Kagame keeps shooting himself in the foot. How do you govern with hungry ministers, senators, and military generals?