By Dr David Himbara
As we await the sentencing of my brother-in-law General Frank Rusagara (retired) and my brother Colonel Tom Byabagamba, I refuse to descend into depression and self-pity. I think I am made of the same tough material as these two brave soldiers. These two men refused to beg for mercy for fabricated “crimes” they are accused of — namely that they spoke ill of the regime. Like these two Rwandan braves, I, too, refuse to suffer in cowardly silence, and will continue to tell this story of horrific injustice by a totalitarian state that excels in abusing and humiliating an entire nation.
And so today I ask— what is Kagame’s end game? An anonymous blogger has offered Kagame the following unsolicited advice that might help the president to reflect on his end game:
“How many enemies are you making per day in Rwanda and globally? What does this mean to you and your family? What happens when you are no longer in power…There are cries, sorrows and curses out there, do you think God is not there to give rights to those you denied them? Today you are powerful, tomorrow things might be different; it is terrible that you are turning against those you struggled with. I do not think it is the right approach.”
Then the anonymous writer advised: “kindly take a few minutes, reflect, internalise yourself, and you may find what you need to adjust, or change. All humans go wrong; find out where you went wrong.”
Many people who reacted to this anonymous advice said that Kagame is not the type to listen to others. I think they are correct. In fact, the Rwandan ruler appears to be taking a hard line and building a higher wall from which to fight anything that moves. He realizes he will need an even higher wall should he leave power. Why am I saying this? What is my evidence that Kagame is building a high defensive wall to terrorize everyone?
Look no further than the newly-amended constitution of the Republic of Rwanda. Examine the hilariously self-contradicting Article 114 “Exemption from prosecution for a former president of the Republic.” According to this article, “A former President of the Republic cannot be prosecuted for treason or serious and deliberate violation of the Constitution when no legal proceedings in respect of that offence were brought against him or her while in office.”
Kagame and his constitutional advisers think the entire world is stupid. So after he leaves office he cannot be prosecuted for crimes he was not tried for while in office! Obviously he cannot be tried for any crimes while in office because, as a head of state, he has immunity! Kagame has therefore given himself a green light to violate the rights of Rwandans as he wishes without consequences in and out of office. To emphasize, Kagame has immunity either way — in power, or after he hands over power to someone else. He believes he has built a formidable wall around himself to do as he pleases.
From this we see that Kagame does not need to have an end game. He believes that he has a constitutional wall around him while in office and out of office. He imagines he will live happily ever after his tenure as king of Rwanda.
But Kagame forgets one thing. In the end we all die — and die alone. This reminder “We die alone” was coined by a 17th Century philosopher Blaise Pascal who fittingly added an even stronger phrase: “Man is only a reed, the frailest thing in nature.” Sadly, rulers blinded by power tend to forget this fact of life with shocking results for themselves and others.
About the author:
David Himbara is an educator, political economist, and author based in Toronto, Canada. He teaches and works in the field of development and competitiveness.