Dear Mr President Paul Kagame, I trust that you are well, despite some challenges you are currently facing. Take for example the heavy rains and the flooding of River Nyabugogo that has resulted in deaths of several Kigalians. This matter must obviously be occupying you and your government as strive to ensure that no more lives are lost.
This note, however, is about a different matter, namely, the Panama Papers, that mention a military officer, Emmanuel Ndahiro, and a businessman, Hatari Sekoko, as owners of an offshore company. At the time the company was established in 1998, Ndahiro was your spokesman.
Mr President, just before you begin to protest and say that you are not mentioned in the Panama Papers, and that this does not concern you, remember that your spokesman was just a soldier. And obviously you were his supervisor. Where would he have found the money to open a company that evidently owned an aircraft?
Mr President, let me also point out that there are other leaders that are in your exact position regarding this matter. Take for example the Russian President Vladimir Putin who has been the subject of an unprecedented media coverage since the Panama Papers were leaked.
Mr President, like yourself, Putin’s name does not appear on any of the records published in the Panama Papers. But the paper trail does show that many of Putin’s associates and close friends made millions from deals that would have been hard to do without his knowledge.
Likewise, it would be impossible for Ndahiro to open an offshore company without your knowledge.
Dear Mr President, we have seen this sort of thing before. When the story of your ownership of two executive jets first broke out in 2010, it was discovered that Hatari Sekoko, also mentioned in the Panama Papers, was one of the listed as owners of the USD 50 million a piece. Later, the story changed. Rwandans were told that the planes belonged to your ruling party’s conglomerate, Crystal Ventures Ltd. And that Crystal Ventures charters these planes to the government of Rwanda for your travels. In other words, Kagame the President of Rwanda charters executive jets from Kagame the Chairman of the Rwandan Patriotic Front and its businesses. In most countries, Sir, this would be corruption.
My advice to you Sir is this. If the Panama Investments were indeed Ndahiro’s and you had no knowledge of it, then let him explain to the Ombudsman where he got the money from. And if Ndahiro was acting on your behalf, then refund the money to the government, and move on.