By David Himbara
The year 2019 in General Paul Kagame’s Rwanda was the usual cocktail of overseas voyages, boasting about bogus accomplishments, accumulation of debts, mysterious deaths, imprisonments, recklessness, cruelty, and blaming his ministers for implementing his crude orders that go wrong. Here is how 2019 unfolded in the world of the ruler of Rwanda:
- He attended 60 overseas events across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and North America. The Middle East became his popular destination, especially Qatar where Kagame has struck a warm relationship with the rulers there.
- He boasted that he had achieved 85 percent of Rwanda Vision 2020 – if he were a student in university, that would be an A, which is given to outstanding and excellent performers.
- He entered into a US$1.3 billion debt agreement with Qatar to build a new international airport, after dumping Mota Engil, a company that Kagame had given a twenty-year concession for building and managing the airport.
- His security forces made people disappear and even die in mysterious circumstances including the death in jail of Kalisa Mupende, the former chairman of the Rwanda Development Bank, whom Kagame imprisoned in 2009.
- He imprisoned Rwandans without due process including Jackie Umuhoza, the daughter of exiled pastor Deo Nyirigira, who was arrested on November 27, 2019 in Kigali. Umuhoza remains in detention without having been brought before a judge.
- He recklessly closed the Rwanda-Uganda border at Gatuna on February 27, 2019, the busiest transit point through which more than half of Rwanda’s US$3 billion passes onto to the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa.
- He destroyed homes of over 1,000 Rwandans and threw them out in the cold supposedly to save them from high risk zones often affected by flooding.
- He blamed his ministers and other officials for the cruelty of destroying homes and throwing families into the cold. This is what Kagame said:
“The first ones to be blamed are the leaders. Those who did it, including Ministers, I do not understand why they do not feel the need to explain themselves. What is preventing them? This has consequences on many people. Why would you choose to operate this way?”
Kagame’s statement sums up his 2019 and his leadership style in general. Evidently, Kagame is unaware of the often cited wisdom that “effective leaders pass the credit and take the blame.” Kagame works in reverse – he passes the blame and takes the credit. He does not build or appreciate teams. He thrives on publicly humiliating public servants after they implement his crude orders. What might 2020 bring? More of same. Stay tuned.