Rwanda: Where Bogus Sex Scandals Are Weapons for Political Power

By David Himbara

When Diane Shima Rwigara announced her candidacy for the Rwandan presidency in 2017, bogus nude images of Rwigara flooded the media. Fast forward to 2021. When Christopher Kayumba launched his political platform, he was immediately accused of attempted rape.

On March 16, 2021, Christopher Kayumba launched his Rwandese Platform for Democracy (RPD). According to the organization’s press release, RPD “aims to promote and attain a more free, democratic, just, secure, peaceful, developed and united Rwanda.” A day after Kayumba announced the formation of RPD, the Rwandan media reported a sex scandal involving him. The papers claimed that Kayumba’s former student testified that he sexually assaulted her.

This recalls the case of Diane Shima Rwigara. Her presidential bid was immediately tested after she declared her intention to challenge General Paul Kagame in Rwanda’s 2017 general elections. Suddenly, Rwandan media was flooded with bogus nude pictures of Rwigara.

The phrase “politics is a dirty game” normally refers to electoral systems corrupted by all manner of thieving and big money. In the Rwandan case, there is an additional means of institutionalizing dirty politics – bogus sex scandals are weapons of power.