Kagame’s Law Of The Jungle And The Auctioning of The Union Trade Centre

By David Himbara

Dictionary.com defines the law of the jungle as “a system or mode of action in which the strongest survive, presumably as animals in nature or as human beings whose activity is not regulated by the laws or ethics of civilization.” This is a perfect description of Kagame’s Rwanda. Only the strongest survive.

UTC Mall, Kigali

Take the case of the US$20 million Union Trade Centre (UTC). Launched by its founder, the pan African industrialist Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa in 2006, UTC was a highly successful operation, hosting 81 businesses including top companies such as MTN Rwanda, Ethiopian Airlines, and Nakumatt. Over 400 Rwandans earned a living in these businesses. Kagame was the guest of honour at the opening of UTC.

Then the law of the jungle took over. In 2013, Kagame used the “abandoned property law” to illegally seize UTC because Ayabatwa was living outside Rwanda. The confiscation ignored the fact that UTC was duly incorporated in Rwanda in good standing – complete with other shareholders.

Kagame’s law of the jungle soon became more vicious and crude. On August 24, 2015, the Kagame regime pronounced UTC a tax defaulter. The very regime that seized the mall two years earlier, was now alleging that UTC was not paying taxes.

Evidently, Kagame forgot the details of his law of the jungle. According to the Abandoned Property Law, the government of Rwanda safeguards the abandoned property. This is what this law stipulates:

“Without prejudice to other legal provisions, abandoned property shall be managed by the State represented by the Ministry until the owners show up…If the owners died with no heir, the abandoned property shall be devolved upon the State.”

Now we learn that Rwanda Revenue Authority will auction UTC at the end of July 2017. Pity the man or woman who will buy this stolen property under Kagame’s law of the jungle. The property will revert to its owner when, sooner or later, genuine laws replace Kagame’s law of the jungle.