On Thursday 2nd March, 2017 in a memorable speech that history will remember as a turning point of Kagame’s political career, the Rwandan president relished the final stroke of his declining regime: admission of his government lies.
This was on the final day of the 14th edition of the National Leadership Retreat that had brought together under one roof, for almost a week, the cream of the Rwandan elite from all sectors of the country’s leadership. It was at the Military Training camp of Gabiro in the Eastern Province.
Kagame’s speech was in kinyarwanda. Depending on his audience and desired outcomes, he usually adapts his messages: language to be used and facts or lies to be told. I don’t usually translate his public interventions. But I found the following extract from the mentioned speech, so compelling that it was worth the effort. It exposes publicly own admission of failure of the Rwandan president as a leader.
“Let me tell you this. Things we do here related to development, security, others (areas) connected to these, in life there are lies you can make up, and people would never know the real truth behind them. You lie to them, they believe in you and your lies (and follow and support you in them). Then (things are staged that way), you live another day.”
At this stage of his speech, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from his own mouth. I couldn’t help thinking that something was wrong with him. I wondered if finally he had reached a level of cognitive coherence where he couldn’t lie anymore publicly and was now confessing about his constant lies.
He pursued while his audience was listening quietly, but almost also astonished by the veracity of the apparent truth being told:
“But (when it comes to) our objectives, you cannot make up lies, and not be caught. Truly, you cannot be caught very easily. I am saying that you cannot continue lying indefinitely. At the very end, you get exposed.
If you are fighting poverty, in order to eradicate it, when you claim that you’ve done everything necessary (to achieve that), next day you have evidence of poverty in front of your door. If, when we open (our) doors, and we are confronted with poverty, whatever lies we might’ve made, thinking that you won’t be caught, saying that you fought poverty, that you eradicated it even from the country, and you cannot see it. This means you have evidence (a testimony) proving that you have been lying all along. You didn’t do anything. If you had done something, we wouldn’t be seeing the poverty we have.
(The same goes with) Security. You cannot go, as these ambassadors representing us, even if you go telling the whole world (wherever you are) that in Rwanda, wherever you go, there is 100 % of safety and security; and for that we need to be ranked high. When they come, those people you speak to, experience that security by themselves. Whatever you might’ve lied in Japan, China, Europe, America, saying that in Rwanda, there was no security problem, it was totally safe, and that people were very welcoming, because you want to tell them that everything you needed to do in relation to security, you did it, they will catch you if there is security or not. It is sensed momentarily. You don’t need to look for clues. It is strongly visible when this is the case. They will tell you that here no one gets out at night; when you do, for example heading in a certain direction to greet a relative, your chances of coming back are 50% when there isn’t security.”
Here the Rwandan president was clearly referring to the case of Violette Rukundo who disappeared in Rwanda on February 14th, 2017 when she went back home from UK to bury her father who had passed away. Further to intensive advocacy from her husband by involving UK authorities where the family lives, Rwandan security services had to show the whereabouts of that woman (luckily by the time of publishing this piece, Violette Rukundo had managed to get back to her family in the UK). He carried on saying:
“And this happens so often in many cases. When they come, they find news saying that someone was travelling in the country, when they got to this particular location, they disappeared. Another met the same fate. Another one was shot or knifed. Another was attacked in his house then killed. All these you cannot hide them. You can’t. It’s impossible….”
Surprisingly, a few days after, president Kagame was again flying in his private rented for him by his government, going to repeat to the world the same lies about Rwanda that he had been complaining about during the National Leadership Retreat.
Yes, you read correctly about president Kagame’s private jet. The more and remote places he travels in it, the more money he gets from his own government. Hopefully you understood that he rent his plane to his government and gets paid for using it. And that money is either from donors or citizens’ taxes.
When president Kagame uttered to his audience that lies didn’t stand long because truth always comes about soon or later, he was definitely referring to the way his government has led the country and or interacted with its external partners from the start, meaning 1994. Is he now coming to terms with the fact that this cannot go on indefinitely? Time will tell.