My Dictatorship Is More Ruthless Than Yours

By David Himbara

Why are these two men happy? Between the two, who can teach whom about the art and science of dictatorship?

The man on the left (Mugabe) has an entirely different background from the man on the right (Kagame). Mugabe earned degrees including master of laws from the University of London. Kagame says he has a certificate from the Open University, UK, but does not appear anywhere on its graduate record. In reality, Kagame is a warrior who has been fighting since he was teenager – recruited in the late 1970s.

But the two men’s political career is similar. The younger man (Kagame) is following in the footsteps of the older man (Mugabe) whose murderous and despotic reign is now 36 years, and he himself 92 years. Kagame is doing fine – clocking in 22 years at the helm, and currently aged 58 years. If it goes according to his new constitution that gives him 7 years of “transition” and two terms of 5 years each, Kagame will rule until 2034, aged 75. He will still be mere baby, ready to extend his rule yet again.

When it comes to brutality, however, Mugabe is an amateur, compared to the younger dictator, Kagame. Estimates of killings by Mugabe put the number of his victims at 15,000 lives lost. That is nothing compared to Kagame record. If you include people lost in wars directly unleashed by his armies in Rwanda and in DRC; lives lost via the militias Kagame sponsored; deaths caused by his fights with Museveni armies in Kisangani; and assassinations in and outside Rwanda, the numbers run into millions. The UN Congo Mapping Report provides a horrifying testimony to this awful legacy that the world community has yet to deal with.

The man on the left has nothing to teach the man on the right in the art and science of dictatorship. Even with his long list of academic degrees, 36 year rule, and old age of 92, Mugabe comes a distant second to Kagame. The Rwandan ruler is a self-made PhD in dictatorship science and ranks among the most hardcore iron fists the world has ever seen.

The student here is Mugabe, not Kagame.