President Paul Kagame: the warrior is tired

By the time Kagame started talking about Rwanda’s contribution to the global fight against ebola in his speech during the crowning of the new president of the senate, I begun to feel sorry for the warrior. Watching the disturbing expressions of the President and the nervousness/confusion of his audience, it became apparent that the grand warrior was tired. The wars Kagame has been fighting, including the Uganda bush war (1980-1986), Rwanda bush war (1990-1994), Congo direct and proxy wars (1996-2013), and Rwanda-Uganda wars inside Congo (1999-2000) have taken a heavy toll.

Looking at this history Paul Kagame has been at war for 33 years – if you begin counting from the Uganda bush war to the defeat of M23 in 2013. One must also remember that in between these wars, Kagame has been fighting other types of wars. The 1998 assassination of Seth Sendashonga led to a fight between Rwanda and Kenya, with the latter expelling Rwandan diplomats and shutting down the embassy.

This ugly drama was replayed in the Rwanda-South Africa context in 2014 in the aftermath of the assassination of Patrick Karegeya and fourth attempted murder of Kayumba Nyamwasa. Kagame also famously stated in 2013 that he would “hit” Tanzania’s President Kikwete, at the right time.

Looking at Kagame making his speech in Rwanda parliament, the signs that President should hang his gloves are there for all to see – I am certain that even his most fanatical supporters watching this event realised that the warrior is suffering from the “Tired Leader Syndrome”. If you seek evidence that the warrior is tired, watch the YouTube video of the Kagame speech and you see strong signs:

• The speech itself is a muddle of uncoordinated statements that are incoherent;

• The audience claps in unsure and nervous manner out of pity and fear;

• Senators, MPs, ministers and others are staring at their hands or at the ground;

• Instead of responding to the BBC in a presidential dignified manner in which he objects to their documentary, Kagame is ready to shoot “the criminal;”

• The Ebola part of the speech about Rwanda contribution to the global fight appears to be added on to regain composure after the bombastic outburst of the main speech;

• By the way, that rumbling could not have been possibly a written speech – that speech broke the Nigerian rule that “engage mind before engage mouth.”

The current preoccupation of changing the Rwandan Constitution to allow President Kagame to stay in power beyond two terms might be premature. The tiredness of the grand warrior needs serious and urgent attention

Dr David Himbara