Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kagame & media: Hard times for wolf in sheep’s clothing

President Kagame poses with a group of journalists after the press conference yesterday (Photo Willis Shalita)

What is wrong with this picture of a smiling and apparently relaxed Mr Kagame with Rwandan journalists?
This photograph taken immediately after Mr Kagame’s monthly press conference of 23 June 2011 speaks volumes of the man himself, the state Rwanda is in and that of the media in the country.

Kagame makeover

This version of a smiling Mr Kagame with the media appears to be a desperate makeover of a media predator and verbal abuser. Mr Kagame’s American PR Machine has made a breakthrough here. They have succeeded in coaching their man to be more human, less aggressive, less abusive and even friendly to the media. Gone is the angry head of state that sends journalists into shivers – here is a version of Mr Kagame usually reserved for overseas admiring fans falling over themselves to be seen with “visionary” and “new breed” of African leadership.

What Rwanda has become

The pictured gathering of Kagame and the media says even more about Rwanda than the man. Put this gathering in the context of the past month leading to Mr Kagame’s monthly conference and what the country has gone through.
  • UK’s Scotland Yard publicly warned Rwandans living in Britain to be vigilant as Kagame killing machines might harm them.
  • The planning sessions between General Nziza, Colonel Munyuza and operatives in South Africa on killing General Nyamwasa by any means possible, including harming hospital staff where he was recovering after being shot by same operatives, were revealed to the world via leaked audios.
  • Mr Kagame appeared shaking hands in Chicago with former Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Gasana and former Prime Minister Rwigema – the latter previously categorised as a fugitive from justice accused for genocide crimes.
Rwanda is thus becoming known once again for wrong reasons – state-sponsored terror, death squads, lawlessness and selective justice.

Nziza, Munyuza and the audio

What is remarkable is that Kagame has not explained to the nation he rules what he intends to do with General Jack Nziza and Colonel Munyuza. If Kagame was a “leader” he claims to be, he would have to undertake at least one of the following actions:
  • Reject the authenticity of voices on the audios and categorically state that they are not Nziza’s and Munyuza’s;
  • Fire and try Nziza and Munyuza for engaging in cross-border criminal activity and assure Rwanda that he was not aware of and did not approve of such activity; or
  • Resign for unleashing terror across borders and for soiling the name of Rwanda, a country Kagame claims to love.
But Mr Kagame has conveniently chosen to remain silent which can only mean one thing – that he is himself part of the despicable act and exporter of terror. This is the man who brands himself as having ended the culture of impunity in Rwanda.

Enter former prime minister Rwigema

Then there is the extraordinary drama around former prime minister Celestin Rwigema. How did a genocide fugitive become part of the loving crowd welcoming Mr Kagame to Chicago’s Rwanda day? How does Mr Kagame become the three branches of government – executive, legislative and judiciary to brand someone a genocide fugitive one day and an upright citizen another day without due process? Rwanda it would seem is country run by a personality cult and impunity.
The world awaits to see how Rwandan parliament, predominantly female, and supposedly progressive will handle the Rwigema saga. Similalry, the Rwandan judiciary, supposedly progressive and led by a female has a lot to explain. Kagame never ceases to tell whoever will listen how the Rwandan institutions increasingly led by women are effective and models for others to follow.

The fourth estate in Rwanda

The above highlighted issues and events are what one would have expected the media in Rwanda to ask Kagame at his press conference. But there was instead silence on these matters.
The media in Rwanda has of course has been “cleansed” of any critical and investigative journalism. The judicial ink condemning the editor of Umuvugizi, Bosco Gasasira, to a prison term has yet to dry. True to form Kagame judiciary tried the editor in absentia, the draconian legal instrument used by most repressive regimes.
That is why the picture of a smiling Mr. Kagame with media is a cheap and sick propaganda that achieves the opposite of what is intended.
The smiling Mr. Kagame with the media is akin to the fable of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This fable comes from a sermon by Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of Mathew 7:15: “Be aware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” The sermon conveys the message that the true nature of the wolves would in due course become revealed by their actions.

Kagame’s fate

Of late the Rwandan dictator is preaching that he will be replaced by a younger leader in 2017. The latest twist is that the younger leader should also be a female.
Here is free advice to Mr. Kagame. Forget 2017 and deal with the present.
  • Explain to Rwandans and the world the audio in which your senior military officials are heard planning to kill their fellow countrymen and hospital staff in Johannesburg. You have an incentive for doing this. The legal case of Rwanda-sponsored assassins in South Africa is coming to trial – so act fast.
  • Explain how previously you were hunting down former prime minister Rwigema as a genocider and suddenly he is a member of your Chicago entourage.
As for the seven year Mr Kagame still have to misrule Rwanda, and who might replace him, he will do well to think harder on this matter. In politics, seven years is equivalent to a century – it is a long time to say the least. The unexpected can happen, even to the most powerful and manipulative dictators.

Related Materials:
Rwanda’s Sano challenges Kagame’s apologist Arthur Assimwe @aasiimwe

Rwandan dictator shows his true intolerant colors on BBC interview

Secret Recording: Kagame’s assassin and his boss in assassination attempt in South Africa on former chief of staff and ambassador Kayumba Nyamwasa

Kagame Killing Machine out of Control: Further Concrete Evidence

Rwanda arrests army officer over ‘attack plot’

Rwandan Authorities Hold Six People Over Plans to Stage Terrorist Attacks 


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