Two views have emerged from both hearings called by the UK Parliament Select Committee for international development to discuss about UK aid to Rwanda. They were held on 8th and 13th November 2012, respectively with former Secretary of State for the concerned department, R. Hon. Andrew Mitchell, and the incumbent responsible, MP Justine Greening.
The view which appeared to have dominated the discussions and questions to past and present DfID top officials is the impact that UK aid has had on the development of Rwanda. The committee generally hailed the country as a model of accountability.
The emphasis on Rwanda’s development rather than the suffering caused by M23 destabilizing operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo was the fact that many members of the committee, even both former and current Secretaries of State, had strong personal connections with Rwanda. They had been involved at different occasions with Project Umubano, visiting the country more than once and being involved in volunteering activities of development.
The other view the two hearings highlighted, but which unfortunately seemed to take second stage and not as much weight in the deliberations of the committee, and particularly because of the pre-eminence of UK aid on Rwandan development, was the impact that M23 operations of destabilization in Eastern Congo was having on local populations. Different reports by UN experts and human rights organisations have comprehensively explained cases of child soldiers who have been recruited, women who have been raped, and thousands of people who have been displaced.
Though this consideration had been the trigger of suspension of UK aid and from other donors, it seemed to be outweighed in the discussion of the committee. Fortunately, for those continuing to suffer because of the war imposed by the rebel group M23, the US have unilaterally decided to take restrictive measures against its leader Sultani Makenga. Discussions of the committee for sanctions of the United Nations Security Council were ongoing at the time of the hearing for Justine Greening. Will UK be stricter and tougher towards Rwanda which is alleged to be supporting the rebels?
The decision of withholding or reinstating UK aid will be taken mid-December, announced MP Justine Greening to the parliament select committee. Whatever it will be, Congolese and Rwandans, and even Ugandans, have to take stock and realize more and more that change away from the suffering they have been victims of in the hands of autocratic dictators who rule over them will immensely depend on them, not anybody else.
To listen to the discussions at the two hearings, please click on the names: Andrew Mitchell, Justine Greening.