Saturday, September 29, 2012

RPF Under President Kagame is richer than Rwanda under President Kagame

By Ruganzu Vicent

Sydney, Sep 28 2012

The Financial Times (UK) and the BBC Kinyarwanda Program have reported that RPF the ruling party of Rwanda (RPF) has made formidable fortunes of wealth and is considered the richest party on the continent save the ruling party of Ethiopia (EPRDF) of Meles Zanawi. However, all these fortunes have come at a cost, all the business is owned directly or indirectly by the Rwandan Patriotic Front through numerous proxies of business

Within days of seizing power in 1994, the victorious Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) started investing in almost everything from the supply of plastic chairs and beer to bars, the harvest of coffee, to the financing of government.
The Local Government Minister, James Musoni the man in charge of RPF Finances has defended the RPF business ventures by arguing that RPF saved Rwanda from Total collapse by injecting their own savings from the war to finance even suits worn by the first ministers to take office immediately after the war. However he does not say, whether it was a loan or a grant.
Minister James Musoni who has amassed a lot of wealth through crook methods has further argued that since RPF has been very successful in both economic and political ventures, the legacy of economic monopoly must live on. Indeed, according to James Musoni, economic monopoly is justified by the fact that, the RPF regime picked the state from scratches, therefore they have a right to retain a dominant position in many walks of political and economic life.
It is estimated that RPF through its investment arm, Crystal Ventures, controls assets worth more than $500m inside the country. The group owns a construction and road-building company, granite and tile factories, a furniture company, a chain of market coffee shops (in Kigali, Boston, London, Washington and New York), a real estate developer and an agro-processing venture, Inyange. It also retains a stake in MTN, the leading mobile phone operator in Rwanda.
With all the above chains of business empires inside Rwanda and outside the country, RPF is the largest quasi-private business venture inside and outside the country compared to other private companies within the region, and with 7,000 staff, the second-largest employer after the state. It also puts the ruling party in an enviable position when it comes to financing politics. Relative to the size of the country, the RPF is one of the best endowed political movements in the world. In the sub region, only Ethiopia’s ruling EPRDF, under Meles Zenawi the recently deceased prime minister.
Whereas the RPF is considered the most successful economic company, the Managing Director the board of Crystal Ventures Professor Nshuti Manasseh, says half the RF1.5bn ($2.4m) cost of RPF campaigning in 2010 elections was met by donations from party members, the other half from company coffers. Again Prof. Manasseh does not tell the truth that many so called members of RPF are coerced to pay what they call RPF contribution; in fact all government employees have joined RPF not out of conviction but out of fear and to save their jobs.
As already mentioned above all the so called profits from the RPF business empire have come with a cost which involve corruption by the people who are praised by the region and international community as the least corrupt regime in the region. From the global perspective a person in Washington or London might think so, because it is only Kagame and his close allies that are immune from the long arm of the law against corruption. They have used the money they collect from people framed as contributions and some proceeds from their business ventures to buy two executive jets, which it then leases – among others to President Kagame, from a base in South Africa on exorbitant prices even when cheap flights of the same comfort could be obtained elsewhere.
RPF and Kagame are not only accused of corruption in their own country, they have also been implicated in dirty business by UN experts of plundering mineral resources during neighboring Congo’s wars. Another frequent charge is that they have crowded out other investors, and enjoyed favoured status when it comes to government contracts.
Crystal Ventures’ Intersec, for example is the only private security outfit authorized to carry arms. “Where there is lucrative business they control it. Things are not as open as you think,” says a prominent business person in Kigali.
While Prof Manasseh defends an indefensible corruption within RPF ranks, the recent scandal of electric dam that brought in almost the whole establishment of RPF including James Musoni, John Rwangombwa just to mention a few was thrown out of parliament not because it lacked evidence but it was going to expose what RPF has been all along hiding from some Rwandans and the international community.
The Managing Director Crystal Ventures Prof Manasseh has proposed to sell some of its companies like Inyange to Kenya’s Brookside, owned by the Kenyatta family but for some us who know how RPF operates they will sell to their proxies who in turn bring back the money to their political movement. It is unfortunate that RPF is growing richer while the country and all the Rwandans are becoming poorer, the big fish will always feed on the small fish.


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