By David Himbara
On March 21, 2018, African heads of state signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). By April 24, 2018, Kagame’s parliament had already ratified AfCFTA. In other words, it took the Rwandan parliament only 25 working days to ratify AfCFTA.
How is that possible?
Only in Rwanda can this happen. There are two reasons for this.
Reason 1 — Rwanda does not have a genuine parliament with technical capacity to scrutinize laws
There are 22 ratifications and protocols in AfCFTA. Remember AfCFTA involves free movements of goods, services, people, and dispute resolutions. How did Kagame parliament scrutinize all these legal instruments in 25 working days? What exercise did Rwanda parliament undertake to inform and educate Rwanda on AfCFTA? Nothing. Kagame simply ordered the zombies in the so-called lawmaking body to sign off, and they simply stamped. For Kagame, it is prestige — he is chairman of the African Union, so he must ratify. Most of the MPs have no clue of what the ratification means— period.
Reason 2 — Kagame has nothing to lose or gain as he has no industry to protect
As shown in the National Bank of Rwanda’s consumer goods data for January 2018, Rwanda imports just about everything from meat, fish, milk, eggs — to manufactured products.
In January 2018 alone, the imports of consumer goods into Rwanda were valued at US$54 million. Total imports in the same month were US$167 million.
The exports tell an even more disastrous story. Look at the month of January 2018 for an illustration.
Rwanda essentially exports raw materials — which were valued at US$69 million for the month of January 2018.
Rapid ratification simply tells us that Kagame is a dictator
No wonder Kagame is the first to ratify the AfCFTA. He simply ordered his rubber-stamp parliament to sign off. More tellingly, there are no industries to protect. Kagame’s economy is a banana republic that exports raw materials and imports manufactured products. By ratifying AfCFTA, Kagame loses nothing and gains nothing. But of course, he will boast that he is an African statesman creating prosperity for the people of Rwanda and Africa.