By David Himbara
2017 is finally here. The new term for President Paul Kagame – the great manipulator – has already begun. Those who are awaiting the results from the August 2017 elections are dreamers. Power was already grabbed since 1994, through the grab of 2000, elections of 2003, 2010, and via Machiavellian manoeuvrings of 2015 and 2016. It appears to be “game over.”
But can it ever be “game over”? Besides herding Rwandans like sheep into giving him life presidency, the great Rwandan manipulator has an additional reason to believe that it is “game over.” The U.S. and the U.K. that were making a bit of noise in 2015 and 2016 about Kagame’s power grab will not do so anymore – both are currently consumed by their domestic agendas. The Trump Administration probably doesn’t even know who’s who among African rulers, let alone who the heck Kagame is. The Trump White House has yet to name the deputy Secretary of State for Africa in any event. British Prime Minister May is busy with Brexit.
It would therefore appear to be game over in Kagame’s republic – except one thing. It is often stated that “History is merely a list of surprises” and that history “can only prepare us to be surprised yet again.” Even a great manipulator is not immune from history’s surprises. The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel put it best – “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.” He also said that “What experience and history teaches us is that people and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.” Oblivious to this, Kagame imagines that he will rule forever.
But why do we call Kagame “the great manipulator”? This gentleman deserves a global award for manipulation. The dictionary definition of manipulation is “to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.” Here is a graphic representation of manipulation.
Give the man his due – let us recall how we got to 2017.
• Kagame engineered over 3.7 million people – over 60 percent of voters – to sign a petition calling for a change to Article 101 of the constitution, which formerly limited presidents to two terms.
•Kagame’s infamous female-dominated parliament and so-called senate found only 10 Rwandans in nationwide consultations who opposed the great manipulator’s power grab.
•Kagame parliamentarians and senators then voted to hold a referendum on changing the constitution to allow him to extend his power over and above the 22 years he has already ruled.
•Out of 24 senators, 24 supported the Kagame amendment – making it 100% in support.
•Out of 80 parliamentarians, 79 supported the Kagame’s amendment – 99% in the great manipulator’s favour.
•In December 2015, Rwandans “voted” in a referendum by 98% to give power to Kagame.
•Then on January 1, 2016, Kagame “accepted” to rule in these terms:
“You requested me to lead the country again after 2017. Given the importance and consideration you attach to this, I can only accept.”
Later in 2016, the constitution was amended to permit the great manipulator to rule until 2034 – assuming that even that is not later amended.
Throughout history, dictators have sought to rule with an iron fisted absolute power, by oppressing their people, and annihilating their real and imagined enemies. Notorious dictators of this kind abound, past and present. To fellow Rwandans – those who resist by whatever means, continue to do so. Those hiding under beds for fear of falling victims to the ruthless regime, by all means do so. Those Rwandans forced to salute the great manipulator, we of course understand the necessity to do what you are told in order to live another day.
But we know one thing for sure – the great manipulator will sooner or later meet his end. They all do. Perhaps the most important question facing us Rwandans is this:
Are we learning from our history to avoid yet another future dictatorship, which, believing that it is invincible, plunges our country into yet another round of iron-fisted hell?