KANGONDO or the reflection of a banana republic

By The Rwandan Analyst

Within the framework of the controversial policy of savage urbanism which chases city dwellers residing in slums and risky areas, in particular neighborhoods bordering wetlands and high mountains, the Rwandan government through the city of Kigali has decided to chase manu militari the 600 households that lived in the suburb of Kangondo to resettle them in the suburb of Busanza where are already built community apartments of move and of course demolished their houses of Kangondo. Why does this population refuse resettlement? the Rwandan State does not concede to their legally founded claims? These are the kind of questions that the present article intends to discuss hereafter.

1.The issue

When we first visited the slum last year, Jean Marie Vianney Ntaganzwa, a father of two who owns a house and earns Rwf100,000, monthly, from tenants who rent four tiny rooms, had said they were not well informed about the relocation project. However, on Wednesday, Ntaganzwa said that he and several other property owners in the slum visited the proposed new settlement site in Busanza and were also shown and briefed on the artistic impressions of the newly planned settlement showing impressive designs of modern flats. But Ntaganzwa said: “People here don’t want the houses that will be built in Busanza but prefer to be given money so they go and find their own means elsewhere according to their own preferences. We want money.” “The best situation is where they give me money that corresponds to the value of my property and then I go find housing elsewhere.” City authorities, he said, were supposed to meet with affected Kangondo area residents last Tuesday but the meeting was postponed. Adiel Turatsinze, 56, a landlord with nine tenants in the slum, is totally against the idea of moving to new houses in Busanza without being financially compensated.

“The manner in which this project was explained to us is not clear and not appropriate. The first meeting [with city authorities and developers] brought the idea of having our properties’ value estimated and then we be given houses, and we rejected this immediately. “Our wish is that we get compensated in terms of money, equivalent to our property. How do they expect me, for example, to care for my children when I am living in a flat and no longer have access to the income from the tenants I have now?” Monica Nyirandayambaje, a mother of four who earns a living by selling charcoal, is equally unyielding about relocating to the new settlement in Busanza. “My wish is that we are given money and we make our own choices. Most people have houses elsewhere. When I get the money, I will move and start my life afresh and carry on with my life. I really didn’t like the idea of Busanza, and we told them this.” Rangira declined to be drawn into whether the authorities will accept to the residents’ demands, insisting they were committed to providing them with decent affordable housing instead.

2.Analysis

1)a perverse urbanist policy

The relocation, a perverse policy to causelessly enrich the regime in the detriment of citizens who are forced to live in communautary houses after having chased from their land without any compensation infringing the constitution and laws governing expropriation for public interest which instead provide this indemnification. Indeed, intending to modernize the city of Kigali, the Rwandan government resolved to ban all slums but was faced with the obligation of prior compensation required by the laws in favor of the inhabitants of these makeshift dwellings, they devised a strategy to build collective houses at very low cost compared to the millions of monies that this population should benefit from in compensation. Examples are legion: the suburb nicknamed Norvège; Busanza and Kinigi in the northern province where the businessman wanted to offer each expropriated citizen one hundred million Rwandan francs in return but the Rwandan state seized it and built residences worth 20 million each like this earning 80 million.

2)A policy impoverishing Kangondo residents 

One of the outstanding issues the homeowners in the area want resolved is their demand for money in compensation, instead of each receiving a house in a new neighborhood in Kigali. We first covered the project last September when city businessman Denis Karera said the Savannah Creek project would soon undertake the process to redevelop the shanty neighborhood, commonly known as ‘Bannyahe’, for its lack of proper sewerage system. City of Kigali spokesperson Bruno Rangira : “We are presently finalizing the valuation of the properties in Kangondo and there are plans of meeting the residents to inform them about the cost of their properties.”Last September, Karera told hat their aim is to develop the Kangondo I and Kangondo II slums, the largest in Rwanda, into a grade A [high-end] area of the city. He said they were working with government to develop the area and transform it into a modern high-end suburb.

3) A regime that does not care about the progress of its people

Development is concentrated in very few regions of the country, votes are occasionally rigged, large amount of power is concentrated in a few hands, and there is a constant war in the sub-region of great lakes that is always sponsored by Rwanda. All of these factors have a central figure above them: President Paul Kagame. While the West continues to praise Rwanda for the remarkable strides it has made on human development indicators and in liberalizing its economy, it seems putting aside the many serious prejudices that this the nation-state daily inflicts against its vulnerable citizens. Rwanda’s story of development cannot be sustained if structural changes are not implemented in Rwanda in the near future.

4)All property belongs to the strongman of Kigali

In Rwanda, President Paul Kagame detains a concentrated power ruling over all the public institutions of the Rwandan state. His leadership in the civil war against the previous regime in Rwanda, and his party’s role in ending the 1994 Genocide automatically put him at the helm of the devastated nation. Officially, however, Rwanda’s first president after the genocide was another senior RPF leader, Pasteur Bizimungu. Despite someone else technically being the President of Rwanda, Kagame was the one with whom all the power was actually concentrated. Bizimungu resigned in 2000 over dissatisfaction with the way in which Kagame stifled dissent.His resignation meant that the Tutsi-dominated RPF lost its senior-most Hutu leader. Ruling the country without sharing since already 28 years, governing Kagame could not be constitutionally barred from running for President yet another time. In December 2015, the government held a referendum that could potentially allow Kagame to remain as the President of Rwanda till 2034. This referendum organized under close surveillance by the intelligence services passed, with more than 98% of the electorate voting in favor of extending term limits.

Besides, economically, Kagame is counted among the billionaire heads of state despite his people languishing in untold misery. the most prosperous Rwandan companies in construction, communication, public transport, banks; social security, transboundary trade; food suppliers that monopolize public contracts and are exempt from taxes.

Conclusion

These populations forcibly displaced from Kangondo will surely suffer because what concerned them is not accommodation but survival because they derive their bread and butter from rents and the tyrant regime of Kigali hardly cares.

As development in Rwanda becomes increasingly concentrated in and around Kigali, most of Rwanda’s population that lives outside of the capital still survives in high poverty levels. Even physical infrastructure outside of Kigali is in poor shape, and this provides for a stark contrast to the gleaming modern city that Kigali has become. The city essentially serves as a large urban spectacle that overshadows the lack of 123 Gettleman, ‘The Global Elite’s Favorite Strongman’. Rayarikar 56 development in the rest of Rwanda. How will this small nation-state continue its remarkable progress if it ignores an overwhelming majority of its population? the international community and Rwanda’s donors are now witnesses to this tyrannical injustice; beyond the lies that the regime has always brandished at them.

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