Open Letter to General Paul Kagame, Rwandan Head of State
Dear General, as you know, Coronavirus has hit the Commonwealth countries very hard. The UK has the largest cases numbering 798 as March 14, 2020. Singapore is next with 200 people affected; Australia, 199; Canada, 198; Malaysia, 197; India, 82; Pakistan, 28; South Africa, 24; Jamaica, 8; Bangladesh, 3; Nigeria, 2; Cameron, 2; Ghana, 2; Kenya, 1; Trinidad and Tobago, 1; and Guyana, 1. In total, the Commonwealth has 1,746 Covid19 cases. This is a disaster. Much of life in the Commonwealth, and across the globe, has ground to a near halt in the past week as the coronavirus spreads, closing schools, and thwarting travel. Authorities on every continent now believe that it will take months to fully understand the magnitude of uncertainty the coronavirus outbreak has unleashed.
Covid19 has not spared prominent personalities in the Commonwealth. In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in self-isolation after his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau tested positive for Covid-19. In the UK, health minister Nadine Dorries was diagnosed with coronavirus and is self-isolating at home. That is why some Commonwealth countries are introducing tougher measures. New Zealand says almost all people arriving from abroad will have to isolate for 14 days. India has cancelled all tourist visas as Covid19 cases rise.
Looking ahead, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the UK will face “severe disruption across the country for many months” and that ”many more families are going to lose their loved ones before their time.”
General Kagame, your government announced that it is pressing ahead with preparations to host the Commonwealth meeting in Kigali in June and that US$700 million worth of business deals will be signed. I put it to you that these boastful pronouncements are inappropriate and inconsistent with the current global challenge. The current lives infected with Coronavirus around the world is 145,630 with 5,423 deaths, including the Commonwealth as of March 14, 2020. This is the time for compassion in light of the calamity facing the entire global community.
My advice, therefore, is that you inform your Commonwealth colleagues that the June Kigali meeting should be postponed until further notice. You should further suggest that in months ahead when the coronavirus is better understood and under control, Rwanda will happily host the Commonwealth meeting.
I can assure you, General, you will be greatly appreciated — and indeed guaranteed to host the Commonwealth meeting. You might even raise larger amounts of foreign investments than the US$700 million your government has mysteriously cited.