By David Himbara
According to the constitutional amendment Major General Paul Kagame engineered in 2015, he can cling to power until 2034. By 2034, Kagame will have ruled Rwanda indirectly and directly for 40 years. He will be 77 years. The General will still be young to amend the constitution to stay in power. He might wish to stay on to witness the outcomes of his Vision 2050. By 2050, Kagame will then be same age as his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe – 93 years old. Kagame will have ruled Rwanda for 56 years, which will make him the real Kinani or “the invincible,” as his predecessor prematurely called himself.
So why was Kagame looking so sad when presenting his candidacy papers at the National Electoral Commission on June 22, 2017? He ought to be jubilant. After all he has amassed total power not least by the following:
- He has locked up opposition leaders such as Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and Deo Mushayidi.
- He has blocked Padiri Thomas Nahimana from returning to his country to compete for the presidency.
- He has corrupted and absorbed opportunistic parties that endorsing his candidacy before his own party did so.
- He has rigged out the rest of Rwandan political parties by restricting time for campaigning to 20 days – in a country with 6 million voters located in 30 districts.
- His own party endorsed his candidacy by 99.9% – denied 100% by 1 spoiled vote.
- His military no longer pretends to be a neutral institution – Rwandan defence forces are in reality Kagame forces.
So why the sadness?
Like the old African saying goes, an iron-fisted strongman can buy a golden bed, but may not sleep peacefully in it. Sleeping comfortably in an expensive bed is an entirely different matter. Kagame is neither the first nor the last dictator who became addicted to power, only to descend into misery. History is full of them.