By David Himbara
President Paul Kagame is very direct. He makes sure that everyone understands that the purpose of Rwanda’s Constitution and the Supreme Court is to sustain his power. Begin with the Constitution — it openly gives Kagame the license to commit crimes with impunity even after he leaves office. This is what Article 114 of the Constitution of Rwanda unashamedly declares:
Article 114: Exemption from prosecution for a former president of the Republic.
A former President of the Republic cannot be prosecuted for treason or serious and deliberate violation of the Constitution.”
It is therefore not surprising that Kagame recently appointed Aloysia Cyanzayire a judge in Rwanda’s Supreme Court. Cyanzayire was previously Rwanda’s Chief Justice before she was replaced by her deputy in 2012. Appointing a former Chief Justice to the Supreme Court as a judge is unheard of .
This unhinged act is equivalent to Kagame appointing himself a cabinet minister in the same government when he can no longer hold the position of president.
In reality, there is no genuine Supreme Court in Kagame’s Rwanda — just like there is no real Constitution. In normal circumstances, the Supreme Court has a special role to play in the system of governance. The Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power to check, when necessary, the actions of the President and Parliament. In Kagame’s Rwanda, he packs the Supreme Court with trusted cronies willing to take his orders. Kagame cannot take any chances of putting anyone on the highest court of the land he does not directly control.
Kagame’s Constitution and Supreme Court are much closer to the law of the jungle. The law of the jungle is defined in Oxford English Dictionary as the ”superiority of brute force or self-interest in the struggle for survival.” This is a perfect description of Kagame’s laws and the judicial system that safeguards them.