Category: Burundi

Kagabo, the butcher of Ntongwe


 

 

By Jean Pierre BUCYENSENGE

21.1.2014

CHARLES KAGABO.

That is the name that still sends the chills down many a people’s spine in the present day Ruhango District, formerly Ntongwe commune.

Photo: Hundreds of residents defied scorching sun to welcome Kwibuka Flame in Kinazi, Ruhango District, on Saturday. Sorce: The New Times/ JP Bucyensenge

For each chill the name gives the people, the opposite reaction is the longing for the day Kagabo, a former bourgoumestre (mayor), would be brought to justice. He remains at large, 20 years later.

Kagabo, who is believed to have been the leader of militiamen that executed thousands in his mayoral jurisdiction as well as surrounding districts, especially in the then Mugina commune, is described as merciless, cold, calculative and vicious in his plots to exterminate Tutsis.

Survivors in both Kamonyi and the neighbouring Ruhango District accuse Kagabo and Burundian refugees in the area at the time of being at the forefront of the killings there.

Kagabo is said to have come up with “an elaborate plan to kill Tutsis and executed it with utmost care and in minute detail.”

The Burundians in question were those who were sheltered at the Nyagahama refugee camp, in the then Ntongwe commune.

“They [the Burundians] were stationed there in preparation of the killings which they would eventually commit,” says Samuel Dusabiyumva, a survivor and the head of the committee organising the burial of some 60,000 area Genocide victims.

“It was a plan to have them near places considered strategic and where it was believed Tutsis could hide.”

Nyagahama is also the place where the Burundians were picked from, paid, offered free transport and promised other rewards by then local leaders to kill Tutsis who had gathered in the then Mugina commune.

“He was tactical in his methods. He first targeted rich Tutsis and intellectuals. He emphasised both quality and quantity [in his killings] methods,Dusabiyumva says of Kagabo.

Other survivors described Kagabo as “a mischievous leader who used his skills to exterminate Tutsis.”

“He was like a chameleon,” Dusabiyumva says. “He knew how to approach militiamen to mobilise them to kill and he had the charms to approach some Tutsis to know where they were planning to hide or escape through so he could send his killers after them.”

Critical role:

Sources say Kagabo was a medical worker and that he was sent to lead Ntongwe commune in the build up to the Genocide.

“May be the appointing authority knew him as someone who would successfully execute their genocidal plan,” Dusabiyumva says.

The Burundians enlisted by Kagabo joined hands with militia groups, gendarmes and soldiers to exterminate Tutsis, according to testimonies.

“If Kagabo was not the leader of the commune, the killings would never have been at the scale we saw. I bet so many Tutsis could have survived,” says Dusabiyumva.

Survivors believe Kagabo is alive and at large, probably in DR Congo.

It is estimated that more than 60,000 Tutsis perished in the former Ntongwe sector. The victims are set to be given a decent burial at a new memorial site being built in the area.

Testimonies indicate that the Burundians had been trained and offered military equipment in the build up to the Genocide. They used traditional weapons, grenades and rifles to execute Tutsis, survivors said.

“What they did was unimaginable. They killed Tutsis in the most horrific of ways. What saddens us the most is that they are still free, going about their lives in their country. The government should do everything possible to bring them to book,” Marie Claire Niyomujeje, a survivor, says.

Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the executive secretary for the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide, said efforts to track the Burundians and other foreigners accused of playing a role in the Genocide has been ongoing.

“I am confident that time will come when they will face justice,” he said.

Contact: jp.bucyensenge@newtimes.co.rw

 

Source: The New Times

Closure of the American embassy in Rwanda and Burundi


on the 12. of August

Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

Why Did U.S. Embassy in Rwanda Close?

O. A. GASHUGI

Photo: by yellaprakash

The recent closure of the American embassy in Rwanda and Burundi – among others in the Middle East and Africa – allegedly as a precautionary measure against possible terror attacks has raised a lot of eyebrows, considering that neither of the two countries has any experience with extremist Muslims, nor has there ever been an attack against American interests (or those of other Western countries).

The US state department, in a communiqué announcing the closure of 19 of its embassies and consulates including the one in Kigali, simply called it a ‘precautionary step’ following a worldwide terror alert. The embassy itself said on its website that it would be closed from August 5 to August 9 and announced the cancellation of all US citizen and visa appointments.

The measure also came as a shock to most Americans living in Rwanda. One of them, who did not want to give his name, said he has always felt very secure in Rwanda and was surprised that the embassies in Rwanda and Burundi would be closed and while the ones in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda remained open.VIEW ALL

Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

Will Rwanda Extradite M23 Officials?

O. A. GASHUGI

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General Johnston Busingye says that the extradition of four M23 officials to Congo will be done legally and not politically after confirming that Rwanda had responded to the DRC government’s request for extradition of the four officials.

The four wanted officials are former M23 chairman M23 Jean-Marie Runiga and military commanders Baudouin Ngaruye, Eric Badege and Innocent Zimurinda.

Busingye told The Rwanda Focus that the Rwandan embassy in the DRC received the papers towards the end of July and immediately sent them to Kigali, where they were studied and a response was sent last week.

“Extradition is a legal issue and this matter will be handled in a legal process. We have responded to the DRC government asking them to furnish us with more details,” Busingye said.

The details that Rwanda is seeking from DRC are the nature of the charges against the four officials and evidence against them. DRC’s Information minister Lambert Mende told media recently that his government enjoys good relations with Rwanda in spite of the recent diplomatic challenges between the two neighboring countries. VIEW ALL

Residents Upbeat Over Rwanda-Burundi One-Stop Border Post


THE NEW TIMES

by Jean Pierre BUYENSENGE

Contact email: jp.bucyensenge@newtimes.co.rw

23 July 2013

Ministers Rurimunzu (L) and Nzahabwanimana open the Ruhwa One Stop Border Post. Photo: The New Times/J.P. Bucyensenge

The Establishment of a one-stop border post at the Rwanda-Burundi crossing in Ruhwa, Rusizi District, has raised hopes among local residents and traders that they will access quicker and quality services while travelling across the borders.

The border post, launched last week, is expected to bolster trade between the two countries and reduce the time spent on clearing with immigration at the border.

It was inaugurated by officials from both countries as well as those from the regional bloc, the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), and those from the African Development Bank (AfDB), which sponsored the construction activities.

Residents who spoke to this paper after the inauguration said they hope the new single border post will reduce bureaucracies.

Bernard Kubwayo, a Burundian, who regularly travels to Rwanda to sell food items, said he expects to spend less time at the border before proceeding with his business.

“We used to spend several minutes clearing at both borders but now that we shall access services in one place it will be much easier,” Kubwayo said. “This is a wonderful initiative from both our countries.”

Juvenal Ncongera, a Burundian farmer who lives a stone’s throw from the Rwandan border, commended the initiative, saying it will benefit residents of both countries.

Convenient

The resident of Rugombo commune said the one-stop border post will ease movement of people on both sides, which, he said, would further cement existing ties between residents of both countries.

“Some residents (living near the border) used to sneak through porous borders to cross to Rwanda because they did not want to go through the lengthy procedures,” Ncongera said.

“But now that the process has been eased and time (it takes to clear) reduced, we will all go through the legal process.”

Vedaste Mabano, a Rwandan resident of Bugarama Sector, Rusizi District, said he often crosses the border to Burundi where he grows crops in farms across the border.

“Clearing now takes less than five minutes. It is a laudable initiative and we are already feeling the benefits [of the one-stop border post],” Mabano said.

Future plans

Under the one-stop border post, travellers access services at one spot unlike in the past when documents were processed on either side of the border. And the clearing time has reduced from about 30 minutes it took in the past to less than five ever since the post became operational, according to officials.

With the new system, immigration, emigration and customs officials from the two countries share offices to ease the clearance procedures for travellers entering or departing either country.

Ruhwa one-stop border post is the second shared between Rwanda and Burundi following the establishment of the Gasenyi-Nemba one-stop border post in Bugesera District in 2011.

According to the Minister of State for Transport, Dr Alexis Nzahabwanimana, plans are underway to set up another single border post between Rwanda and Burundi at Akanyaru in Southern Province.

Studies related to the post have been completed, Nzahabwanimana said last Wednesday, as he officiated at the launch of the Ruhwa one-stop border post.

“There is no reason Rwandans, Burundians or any other traveller should spend hours clearing at the border,” Nzahabwanimana said.

He also said both countries are discussing mechanisms to launch flights between Rusizi and Bujumbura to further ease business and cooperation between the two countries.

 

Related Article:

Rwanda, Burundi establish second one-stop border post

A one stop border post has been established at Ruhwa in Rusizi District order to reduce the amount of time spent by traders clearing goods at the Rwanda-Burundi border.

The one-stop border post is also expected to bolster trade between the two countries and see an infrastructure overhaul at the border area, according to the Minister of State for Transport, Dr Alexis Nzahabwanimana.[read all…]

Read also UN Services’ article on Progress in Burundi:

UN Envoy Lauds Progress in Burundi, Cautions That Hurdles Remain On Path to Stability

Burundi has made progress on a number of fronts in recent months but still faces numerous challenges, including a weak economy, cross-border incursions and a “mixed” human rights situation, the top United Nations envoy to the country told the Security Council today.

Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Burundi, reported that there have been “significant” advances in terms of political dialogue over the past six months. [read all…]

Source: allafrica.com

Burundi: New Law Would Muzzle Journalists – Senate Should Ensure Final Version Restores Media Freedom


Human Rights Watch (Washington, DC)

12.4.2013

PRESS RELEASE

New York — The adoption of a new media law by Burundi’s National Assembly on April 3, 2013, is an attempt to curtail free speech and independent journalism. The Senate and president should reject this version of the draft law, which would undermine Burundians’ hard-won struggle for fundamental freedoms.

Provisions of the version adopted by the National Assembly would severely restrict the ability of journalists to cover events in Burundi, Human Rights Watch said. Among other things, it would undermine the protection of sources, limit subjects on which journalists may report, impose new fines for media found in violation of the law, and require journalists to have a minimum level of education and professional experience.

“This draft law is an attempt to clamp down on journalists after persistent harassment and intimidation has failed to silence them,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The Senate should insist that these harsh restrictions are removed from the law.”

The draft legislation is particularly worrisome with elections planned for 2015, Human Rights Watch said. Journalists and other perceived critics of the government were repeatedly harassed and threatened during the 2010 election period.

The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Burundian Constitution, and in regional and international conventions, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which Burundi has ratified.

In 2012 the government initially submitted a draft bill similar to the one passed on April 3 to the National Assembly. The parliamentary commission for political affairs made several positive amendments to that draft, removing many of the restrictions. However, when the draft was sent on to the full National Assembly, many of the original restrictions were reintroduced. Eventually the draft law was adopted by a vote of 82 to 15, with two abstentions.

The law has been sent to the Senate for approval. Once approved by the Senate, it will require the signature of President Pierre Nkurunziza before becoming law.

The draft law contains several articles that would interfere with Burundian journalists’ ability to operate independently and could expose them to a range of sanctions for ill-defined offenses, Human Rights Watch said.

For example, it requires journalists to refrain from reporting information that could affect “national unity; public order and security; morality and good conduct; honor and human dignity; national sovereignty; the privacy of individuals; the presumption of innocence.” Reporting is further restricted on issues that involve “propaganda of the enemy of the Burundian nation in times of peace as of war” and “information that could affect the credit of the state and the national economy.”

“This sweeping language means that topics journalists could legally cover would be severely restricted,” Bekele said. “They might not even be allowed to write about inflation, much less security issues or political killings.”

The draft law states that journalists should only broadcast “balanced information” and that sources “must be rigorously checked,” without further explanation.

The law would eliminate the prison terms for offenses that are included in the 2003 law the new media law would replace. But it would impose extortionate fines – some as high as 8 million Burundian francs (roughly US$5,000) – that most radio stations and newspapers would be unable to afford, Human Rights Watch said. The law would also require journalists to have a university degree in journalism or its equivalent or at least two years of professional experience.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee, which provides the definitive interpretation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Burundi is a state party, states, in General Comment no. 34 on Freedom of Expression, that general state systems of registration or licensing of journalists are incompatible with freedom of expression.

“This law takes us backward,” Alexandre Niyungeko, president at the Burundian Union of Journalists, told Human Rights Watch. “It is an attack on democracy, because we cannot have even a basic level of democracy in a country where there is no freedom of expression.”

While Burundi has made important strides in recovering from a prolonged civil war, the country has had spikes in violence in recent years, with a sharp increase in political killings following the 2010 elections. Human Rights Watch has documented the implication of state agents in many of these cases. Burundian journalists have played a critical role in reporting on these killings and giving a voice to the victims’ families.

Under the law passed by the National Assembly, reporting on these cases and on the impunity of state agents could be considered illegal if it were interpreted as affecting national unity or order.

Burundi has a paradoxical media environment. It has a vibrant independent media sector, yet journalists have reported to Human Rights Watch that they are frequently threatened and intimidated by state agents over articles and broadcasts deemed critical of the government.

In 2010 most opposition parties boycotted the elections and several of their leaders fled the country. The ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), then appeared to treat journalists, civil society organizations, and lawyers as the new opposition. Government statements have often described journalists as mouthpieces of the political opposition.

One journalist, Jean Claude Kavumbagu, was imprisoned for 10 months for writing an article in which he questioned the country’s ability to respond to potential terrorist attacks. He was acquitted of the initial charge of treason but found guilty of “threatening the national economy.” He was released in May 2011.

Throughout 2011and 2012 radio journalists in Burundi were frequently harassed and summoned to the public prosecutor’s office to account for their broadcasts.

In 2012, Hassan Ruvakuki, of Radio France Internationale and Radio Bonesha FM, was sentenced to life in prison for alleged terrorist acts after interviewing a new rebel group in late 2011. His sentence was reduced to three years on appeal, and he was released on March 6, after spending 15 months in prison.

On February 19, police in Bujumbura, the capital, fired teargas to disperse journalists marching in support of Ruvakuki.

“A cornerstone to Burundi’s democratic future is the ability of journalists to work without hindrance and to report on sensitive issues,” Bekele said. “The government should value and preserve the country’s dynamic media sector instead of trying to undermine it through repressive legislation.”

 

Source: allAfrica.com

Let us commemorate the Genocide against the Tutsi as we strive for self reliance


Bruxelles, 09.4.13

Today Rwanda has two days commemorating the Genocide. It is the 7th of April marking the start and 4th of July marking the end, the Liberation day.  However this weekend two groups commemorated, one on the 6th and one on the 7th in Brussels, Belgium.

Saturday 6th

Rwandan commemorating in front of memorial. Photo: cliir.org

The commemoration of the 6th was organized by CLIIR- coordinator and activist Joseph Matata and his group.

A crowd of approximately 30 people gathered at Montgomery and marched together to the memorial dedicated to the victims of the Genocide 1994 where then prayers were held and poems* were read.

Before reaching the memorial, Mr. Matata was stopped by the Belgian police and advised to hold back his group of continuing as the mayor of Woluwe St. Pierre, Mr. Benoît Cerexhe had previously prohibited the assembly, due to the ban of commemorations on the 6th of April set in 2007, claiming that the authorization of such commemoration has been prone to cause incidents that have had consequences on the relations between Belgium and Rwanda, particularly those between the municipality of Woluwé-Saint-Pierre and the district of Kamonyi, sector of Musambira ’’. As the coordinator explained that the group was peaceful and that the march was not politically motivated the police finally let the crowd continue and followed them to the memorial.

Be that as it may, accused of desecration, Benoît Cerexhe had to comment the non-intervention of the police and justified it by saying:

“As a mayor I had forbidden the manifestation of the “commission against the impunity and injustice in Rwanda (CLIIR)” that was supposed to take part the day before the commemoration, but to prevent damages the police decided not to interfere.”

Sunday 7th

photo

Photo: kigalinews.wordpress.com

The commemoration of the 7th is organized by the Embassy of Rwanda and IBUKA*.

The commemoration ceremony of the Embassy started the with tree opening speeches held by the Ambassador of Rwanda Mr. Robert Masozera, the representative of the Belgian Government and Ibuka Chairman. The greetings were followed by a moving testimony and a speech of the Founder of Souvien toi le 7avril*. The morning ended with a minute of silence for all victims of the genocide against the Tutsi.

For the afternoon the Embassy had invited the ACP* Secretary General, HON. Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni who declared:

“It is important that we continue to commemorate this day in order not to forget one of the most heinous crimes against humanity perpetrated by one group of people against another. 

As we take time out to commemorate this day, we honour the lives of the nearly one million people who were senselessly murdered, and the many more who survived with painful physical and psychological scars they carry to this day.

This terrible tragedy occurred 19 years ago, but its effects are still being felt today by its survivors. The ramifications are still evident in the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa.”

“NEVER AGAIN, I say! For this to become a reality, we must resolutely attack the root causes of the genocide, namely hatred, intolerance, racism, fundamentalism and tyranny, as well as poverty and exclusion. I call on all States, therefore, to remain mobilized and to strengthen cooperation so as to meet the challenges and eradicate these scourges that can serve as weapons of mass destruction.”

The afternoon program ended after a movie on the genocide was played and the attendees had the opportunity to make comments and ask questions.

The memorial march organized by IBUKA started at 7pm. at the “Place Royale” where around a hundred of people were gathered and walked together to the “Palais de Justice”, where a last memorial speech was held.

The mourning night itself was opened by a speech of IBUKA President Eric Didier Rutayisire and followed by a testimony of a survivor of the Genocide against the Tutsi. After exchanging solidarity messages, the night ended with songs, prayers and poems for all victims.

Why the 6th and not the 7th?

photo2

Photo: kigalinews.wordpress.com

At first it seems as the division finds its roots in a terminological inexactitude.

If Matata’s group chose the 6th it’s because the Government of Rwanda officialized the label “Genocide against the Tutsi” instead of “Rwanda Genocide”. Matata explains that this would exclude Hutu other non-Tutsi victims from the official annual commemoration that now only talks about the Tutsi casualties, even though there were obviously thousands of non-Tutsi victims.

 ‘’The 7th of April is not a date chosen by the Tutsi, it is a date that has been imposed by the President. Kagame could not choose April 6th, because on April 6th he is accused of the crime committed against the head of states Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira. April 6th scares Kagame. There is no neutral date, one has got to choose the right date. The date on which the chaos was created must be chosen, that is to say on April 6th.’’  Matata on Jambonews

So instead, they seeking justice in organising their own marches of peace and commemoration services, one being notably the 6th  and not the 7th of April, because to them, April 6 is the day that marked the beginning of the mass slaughters as then Rwandan President Habyarimana and Burundian President Ntaryamira were killed in the shooting down of  their plane.

Obviously the problem is that the one commemorating on the 6th think that the current regime of President Kagame tries to cover the real implicity of those responsible by continuing to advocate that the shooting down of the presidential plane on April 6th, 1994 which carried the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, did not have any relation with the tragedy which unfolded immediately.

Comments like the one of the Rwandan Ambassador, in The Netherlands, Immaculée Uwanyiligira at a commemoration conference saying that the non-Tutsi victims were not caused by the Genocide, but that they were caused due cross fighting of the Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF) and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), only subsists the irritation and division.

Fact is…

that the assassination of Habyarimana’s and Ntaryamira’s airplane was a catalyst for the Genocide 1994, but curiously the responsibility is still a matter of contention, with both Hutu extremists and the Rwandan Patriotic Front under suspicion.

that the Genocide 1994 was the apex of a three year Civil war between the Rwandan Patriotic Front and the national Government, that started 1990.

that the Genocide was prepared and organized by the mainly Hutu-led government of Habyarimana, the local military and the Akazu at that time, with strong implicitly of France and other countries as a reaction to the Habyarimana’s signature of the Arusha Agreements in Tanzania 1993, that intended a sharing of power between the rebels and the Rwandan government. Hutu racial nationalists felt doubled by their President, as they continued to be strongly opposed to sharing power with the former insurgency and to the Agreement, which called for them to lose control of the army and the government without compensation.

that the Genocide propaganda was supported by state controlled mass media which triggered daily the killings of Tutsis or any kind of “traitors” and “Tutsi-collaborators”. A few days before the assasination of the presidential airplane, warning messages were diffused on the national radio, claiming that something will happen in Kigali around the 7. or 8. of April!

Can we agree to disagree and at least commemorate together?

If the Rwandan government chose the label « The Genocide against the Tutsi » so it’s to accentuate that, as cruel, as it sounds Tutsi were the main target group of this Genocide. And even if there might be various types of victimhood during the Genocide, there was a clear aim there, and this was to have a pure Hutu nation. That is important and significant to remember, as it is brutal and hateful!

Were all Rwandan, Tutsi, Hutu or Twa aware of this atrocious idea of the national government? Of course not! In 1994 Rwanda’s population was estimated to about a number of 10’950 000  and a great bunch of them were totally indifferent towards their ethnical origins, as all they felt and needed to know is that they are Rwandan.

As the human history shows, a war hits the ones, who know the less. But still, we (as the Rwandan people) are all responsable for what happened and by claiming ignorance towards what was going on we just make it worse.

500’000-1’000’000 people Tustsi, Hutus + Twas, 20% of the nation, were killed. A Genocide led by a few hundred politicians, nationalists and extremists, witnessed and ignored by the UN and other Nations.

Some think President’s Kagame regime is going the right way now, as Rwanda strives for self reliance and independence. Some think that we haven’t learned anything and Rwanda’s current government is a threat to justice.

Whoever is right, at least we had 19 years of peace…

Maybe we should just agree to disagree.

Mr. Matata,  himself said:

“With all the elements that we now have, can we agree on one date to commemorate all our dead together?”

Mau.

Read also: 

The New Times, 11.04.2013

Rwanda: UN Admits Failure in 1994 Genocide, Pledges Support

The United Nations has pledged to unreservedly support Rwanda’s road towards development, self-reliance, and peace after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, despite the organisation’s poor response during the Genocide...read all

Sources: CLIIR, wikipedia.org, the rising continentAmbassade RwandaiseAfrican Carribean and Pacific Group of States,

Agriculture Minister Clarifies Use of Chemical Fertilizers


The Minister of Agriculture has stated that chemical fertilizers pose no threat to the environment but rather enhance food productivity.

Image by: Olivier Asselin/ FAO

Dr. Agnes Kalibata says a recent warning by the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (Rema), that use of chemical fertilisers was counterproductive in the long-term, was uncalled for.

Rema warned this month that increased use of chemical fertilisers may pose a major environmental hazard in the long-run.

But Kalibata said chemical fertilizers should instead be regularly used and promoted because they are not hazardous to the environment and help increase production.

“Using chemical fertilizers is a great investment to increase agricultural production….we are not adding anything new to our soil composition, we are not degrading the environment and we are not harming people’s lives,”

she told journalists.

She said use of chemical fertilizers in Rwanda remains low, adding that its use is essential if the country is to realise its targeted production levels.

The minister said that in some countries, especially developed economies, farmers use 100 kilogrammes per hectare, while farmers in Rwanda use below 30kg per hectare.

Recently Rema warned that long-term use of chemical fertilizers will bring about irreversible effects to the soil composition.

According to the environmental watchdog, there is need to promote and invest more in organic agriculture so as to reduce the reliance on chemical fertilizers.

Nevertheless, Kalibata says the priority should be the use of chemical fertilisers to increase production to meet demand. In a new report, the World Bank has warned that international food demand will increasingly outpace supply in the future.

The government imports over 18,000 metric tones of fertilizers each year, and plans to let the private sector deal with chemical fertilizers importation and distribution by 2016.

Kalibata says organic farming requires a lot of work and that it is suitable for subsistence farming while using chemical fertilizers would increase agricultural produce to satisfy a large population and tackle significantly food shortages.

She encouraged farming cooperatives to use chemical fertilizers.

“Some farmers are reluctant to use chemical fertilizers under the pretext that they are expensive,” she said, encouraging them to take fertilisers as a worthwhile investment.

The agriculture minister said that reluctance to apply chemical fertilizers is serious in the Eastern Province while the Southern Province is more forthcoming.

Using fertilizers is one of the main priorities under the Crop Intensification Programme, which was launched in 2007 to help increase food security and boost agri-business.

However, Rema Director General Dr Rose Mukankomeje insists their warning is an environmental perspective on the use of chemical fertilizers.

In an email to The New Times on Friday, she said it is mandatory to think about the negative impact of chemical fertilizers on the soils, thus knowing which fertilizer is most suitable to the type of soil.

“For the case of Rwanda, although we are not among top users of chemical fertilizers, the hilly terrain, which in most cases is characterised by a thin layer of arable soil, exacerbates high erosion rate,

she said.

Rema says that chemical fertilizers should be combined with and gradually replaced by organic fertilisers which contain organic matters, more absorbed by the soil, environmental friendly and affordable, less expensive taking into account the benefits of government initiatives like one cow per family.

The cattle-stocking programme is partly to boost farming through provision of fertilizers from the animals.

Chemical fertilizers are any inorganic material of wholly or partially synthetic origin that are added to the soil to sustain plant growth, while organic fertilizers are substances that are derived from the remains or by products of organisms which contain the essential nutrients for plant growth.

Good to know:

On 14 September, 2012 Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), was awarded by the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) for its outstanding contribution to the protection of the ozone layer.

The award was handed over to the Deputy Director General of REMA, Eng. Collette RUHAMYA who represented Rwanda in the 14th Ordinary Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in ARUSHA [… read more]

Source: THÉOGÈNE ISHIMWE, 29 OCTOBER 2012, The New Times, allAfrica.com

Congo’s Govt Accused of Hindering Peace Efforts


The government has been accused of hindering peace in the country after a Congolese delegation cancelled their trip to attend a meeting which brought together lawmakers from several regional countries to discuss the role of parliamentarians in restoring peace in the Great Lakes Region.

Image: by Sylvain Liechti/ UN

Members of a regional parliamentary network, Amani Forum, have accused the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) of frustrating efforts designed to help pacify the country’s troubled eastern region.

This was after a Congolese parliamentary delegation cancelled their trip to Rubavu, western Rwanda to attend a meeting which brought together lawmakers from several regional countries – called to discuss the role of parliamentarians in restoring peace in the Great Lakes Region.

The views were expressed at the closure of the two-day meeting – on Friday – which attracted nearly 60 parliamentarians from the Amani Forum member states.

Participants appealed to Kinshasa to assume its responsibility and stop scapegoating neighbouring countries for its own internal failure.

Participants were drawn from member countries Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Also in attendance were officials from the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), and other International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) member states.

It had been hoped that the meeting would help reach a common ground, at least among the regional lawmakers, something that would have come as a major boost to efforts by regional leaders to try to resolve the Congo crisis.

The absence of Congolese lawmakers was perceived as a “deliberate refusal” by Kinshasa to genuinely engage with regional partners to find a lasting solution to the problem, preferring to blame the conflict in the country’s east on neighbours Rwanda and Uganda.

Speaking to The New Times, Senator Jean Damascene Bizimana, president, Amani Forum-Rwanda Chapter, said there was “bad faith” on the side of DRC even as regional countries were committed to help end the crisis.

“They (Congolese MPs) were invited and had confirmed their representatives would come through Goma but withdrew a few hours to the meeting. Failure to turn up is a clear indication of the country’s lack of political will to work with its peers,”

he said. The New Times was unable to get a comment from the Congo side.

Bizimana also cited last week’s unilateral decision by DRC authorities to halve the operational hours at the Goma-Rubavu border posts (Grand and Petit barrier) – from 24 hours – as another sign of bad faith from the Congolese government.

The decision was in violation of an earlier deal reached in the framework of CEPGL, a regional community comprising Burundi, DRC and Rwanda.

“They may have a biased impression about Rwanda but that should not stop our country’s and regional efforts to help find a solution; there is need to end the threat posed by armed groups in this region,”  he added.

The senator said that the most important thing was that regional leaders had the determination to find a lasting solution to this security problem.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, the ICGLR chairperson, is leading regional efforts to help fix the recurrent Congo crisis, but his role hangs in balance after a leaked UN report accused Rwanda and Uganda of backing the M23 rebellion in DRC’s North Kivu Province.

Both Kigali and Kampala have denied the allegations.

Senator Bizimana said that the recommendations from the Amani meeting will be used at the regional level to initiate actions regarding a broader framework involving all the eleven ICGLR member States.

Besides DRC, South Sudan and Central African Republic did not send delegations citing transport constraints.

The meeting requested the ICGLR to further mobilise member states to collectively tackle the problem of armed groups operating in Eastern DRC through political and diplomatic means.

“This should be handled through the agreed regional frameworks by strengthening the conflict management process through effective joint verification mechanisms,” reads a statement from the meeting.

The MPs resolved to employ all possible means to denounce the “flawed nature” of the reports circulated by international organisations regarding the conflict in DRC “because they do not put the conflict in its proper context”.

Joint efforts to address the issue of refugees in the Great Lakes Region has to be considered a priority, the lawmakers recommended.

Dr Aloys Tegera, Director, Research at Pole Institute, Goma, said that political exclusion and denial of citizenship to a section of bona-fide Congolese was a major underlying factor to the endemic conflicts in the Congo.

“Most of those who are marginalised and denied the opportunity to be recognised as Congolese are the ones who end up forming rebel groups,” he said.

His opinion is shared by International Alert, a London-based non-government organisation, which said Congo’s problems were inherently political and needed a political solution, including sweeping political and structural reforms that are inclusive and participatory.

In a report released over a week ago, International Alert says that for the past 10 years the international community has failed to take into account the underlying causes of endemic conflicts in the Congo, leaving billions of dollars invested in trying to stabilise the country without enough fruit.

“It is our contention that a major reason why Congolese and international efforts have so far failed to bring peace is that they have wrongly diagnosed the issues and accordingly are addressing the problems in the wrong way,” the organization said its report,

“Ending the Deadlock: Towards a new vision of peace in eastern DRC”.

“It is clear that new ideas are needed to find a way out for the people of eastern DRC,” the agency said.

“There is no quick or easy solution…What is needed is not a new blueprint but a new approach – a way of thinking, working, monitoring, assessing and, as necessary, adjusting…It means taking a strategic, longer-term, more patient and incremental approach.

“It means addressing the political issues that divide people and put them into potentially warring camps. It means bringing people together – everybody who has a stake – in a broad dialogue aimed at figuring out local, provincial, national and regional strategies for peace,” the agency added.

 

Related Articles:

The Problem With Congo Is Not M23, but the Leadership…

Early this week, authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo abruptly decided to close during the night two border posts normally used by thousands, mainly cross-border traders operating in the towns of Goma (Eastern DRC) and Gisenyi sector in Rubavu District on the Rwandan side.

The decision to shut down Petite Barrière and Grande Barrière, announced by Julien Paluku, the governor of North Kivu on Monday, was apparently made by the DRC government[… read more].

 

 

 

Source: SAM NKURUNZIZA, 29 OCTOBER 2012, The New Times, allAfrica.com

Rwandan Filmmaker goes to Hollywood…


Annette Uwizeye is a Rwandan filmmaker who has made several short films and commercials and opens a platform to encourage young women to venture into various fields.

The founder of ‘A WIZE Films’ production company, Annette Uwizeye, is one of the few women working in Rwanda’s nascent film industry. The South Africa-educated 31-year-old discovered her passion for the arts while pursuing a degree in Auditing and Accounting at the University of South Africa.

In an interview with Women Today, the eloquent and open-minded Annette narrates how she switched from a career that many consider ‘safe’, to embrace her true passion.

“My dad is an accountant by profession. One would think that numbers come naturally in my family but in my final year, I struggled and wasn’t really focused. I asked myself if I could settle as an auditor because my family thought it was the most promising career. I repeated my final year three times due to retakes and eventually my dad decided to transfer me to another school. It was either that, or think things through back at home,” the Kenyan-born narrates.

“I was drawn to the art but was not sure on whether to do theatre or film. I’m glad that Rwanda Cinema Centre opened doors for me. I had to take a course in film but wasn’t sure whether my dad would pay for it. But there was something in me that would just not let go. I applied to a film school in South Africa and fortunately, after the interview I was accepted,” she explains.

“One thing that cemented my desire to change career direction was taking a trip down memory lane. I was just six years old and a lady saw me drawing and sketching funny things and when she asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, easily, I said I wanted to be an artist. Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist, says that as you grow up, the child in you has the purest sense of what you ought to be,” she reveals.

She further said you should always look back into your childhood because it holds the answer to who you are and what you want to be.

“Things don’t happen by coincidence, once you identify your path and purpose in life, things fall into place. For example, a typo in my admission letter to film school indicating tuition fees for a year was only R7000 an approximate $1000, this easily prompted my family to once again sponsor my tuition for a film degree, but 6 months later we discovered that everyone else was paying R17,000 – the first digit had been omitted and there was no turning back,” She narrates.

She has written, directed and produced several projects in South Africa and Rwanda. Other than co-producing the award- winning TV show, the M-Net Edit (Emerging Dynamics in Television) 2010 competition, she has also produced many of the MTN Rwanda commercials that aired last year.

She is currently working on a film called ‘Uwera’,due to be released next year.

On the subject of overcoming challenges she said, “There is this term called servant leadership. In leading teams, you inspire individuals to achieve the best and maintain a level of professionalism. You lead a team not to dominate but to collaborate. We also make sure that we pay people fairly and on time. These are things I have come to learn and appreciate just by observing my role models.”

This year, she founded A WIZE Films and partnered with Moukhtar Omar Sibomana, who is also passionate about film.

“At A WIZE Films, we describe ourselves as ‘story-mongers’. We are here to trade stories. Our slogan is, “Bring the World to Rwanda and take Rwanda to the World.” Our aim is to create entertaining and heartening content for film and television. I believe film is a tool for inspiring change, mirrors society and cultural exchange,” Annette explains.

The filmmaker advised women to embrace their true calling.

“It’s okay to be scared; we all get scared at some point. Through my journey, I hesitated at times but you need to trust that if you’re in the right path, things will work out, so have some faith. Acknowledge your talent and passion because no one will do it for you; one baby step at a time,” Annette adds.

She also said that women in Rwanda, who have succeeded in different fields, need to tell their story to inspire others.

“A platform showcasing women achievers would really encourage young women to venture into various fields. Women need to believe that they can do anything, not just in business but life in general,” she explains.

The funny and outgoing filmmaker is still single but to sweep her off her feet, candidates need to have at least five qualities.

“He should be God fearing, family oriented, passionate about what he does, a Rwandan, and taller than 5ft 11 inches,” she laughs.

Anette Uwizeye: Show Reel (Youtube video)

Source: DOREEN UMUTESI, 25 OCTOBER 2012, The New Times, allAfrica.com

Traders Irked By New Border Restrictions


The Monday directive to close the DRC-Rwanda border points has garnered negative reaction from citizens residing and working on both sides of the border. 

There is congestion, especially during the evenings, at the DRC border post in Rubavu District as travellers and traders scramble to cross to either side before closure on Congolese side at 6p.m.

Most of the affected cross-border traders are those dealing in fresh agricultural products such as beans, Irish potatoes and other consumables.

For the past days, vehicles traversing the border have also gradually reduced from approximately 500 to less than 300 a day.

However, there is over flow of traffic in the evening as drivers attempt to beat the crossing deadline, which was abruptly announced on Monday by DRC officials in defiance of an earlier bilateral agreement that had seen the borders open 24 hours between both countries.

Motorcyclists plying the route leading to the border posts have also significantly reduced thereby paralysing transport operations in the vicinity.

There are two border posts linking Rwanda to DRC, namely Petite Barriere and Grande Barriere.

Etienne Gahima, a trader, says its irritating because traders in DRC tend to hike prices in the afternoon.

“It isn’t favourable financially,” he said.

Hussein Kablingiti, a Kenyan long distance truck driver, finds it inconsiderate to impose abrupt regulations without prior notice.

“Sometimes our travel schedules would require us to cross beyond the stipulated time but it will not be possible. This is an inconvenience,” said.

Congolese nationals currently living in Rwanda have strongly criticized the move which they said frustrates business.

“You just cannot understand what is wrong with our leaders. There is no way you expect to solve problems by creating others,” noted Faustin Mulumbu, a Congolese trader living in Rubavu town.

They said that senior officials of their government and influential military officers are behind the continuous unstable relations which culminated into the recent border closure.

Mulumbu who deals in second hand clothes grumbled that many other traders like him had already incurred losses since the new border restrictions were imposed.

He lamented that it was already difficult to cross the DRC border in the evening because the immigration offices there are not connected to electricity and now the process has even been made even more tedious.

Source: SAM NKURUNZIZA, 25 OCTOBER 2012, The New Times (allAfrica.com)

New Border Restrictions for Rwanda, Burundi and DRC


Starting this week close to 500 travelers were stranded at the two border posts that Rwanda shares with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, after the DRC government abruptly shut down their border services earlier than usual.

Most of those stranded were long distance traders who use Rwanda as transit to the DRC as well as businessmen and women who operate across the border towns of the two countries.

Rwanda, Burundi, and the DRC, grouped under the Economic Community for the Great Lakes Region (CEPGL), April 2010, agreed to increase border operation hours to ease movement of people and goods.

The Corniche border in Rubavu has been operational 24 hours while the Rusizi 1 border in Rusizi district closed at 10 p.m.

But, without official notification, the DRC Government shut down their services at 6 p.m., leaving the travelers stranded. The DRC communicated through its provincial authorities an issue handled at the national level.

Sources from the DRC Embassy in Kigali claimed that they were not aware of the changes.

The Directorate of Immigration and Emigration confirmed that there were passengers stranded.

Anaclet Kalibata, the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration told “The New Times” that the DRC Government should have officially communicated to the Rwanda Government on the impending changes, after all there is a diplomatic representation in both capitals. This would have given travelers ample time to adjust their schedules accordingly.

Traders who purchase goods from as far as Nairobi plan their schedules putting into consideration that the borders work for up to 24 hours.

By Tuesday evening, there were increasing fears that the Rwandans who are still held up on the Congolese side could be tortured or held hostage as it has previously happened.

Border Restrictions By DRC Authorities Is a Shortsighted Move

The unilateral move, which goes against the 2010 CEPGL agreement, signed between Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC, is a step in the wrong direction. The agreement, which aimed to ease travel and trade between the three countries, proved to be extremely popular with traders and travelers alike.

The move – closing the border at 6p.m – has slowed trade as seen by the drastic fall of cargo vehicles crossing the border. Presently, slightly above 200 trucks cross each day, down from approximately 500 before the directive was made.

This decision is creating gridlock at the border and is delaying the essential movement of goods. Residents of Gisenyi and Goma, the two sister towns, were able to enjoy each other’s respective nightlife; but this will no longer be possible.

The restrictions, which the DRC authorities mistakenly think will increase security, will only ratchet up the suspicions and ill feelings between the two countries.

Kinshasa must come to the realisation that acting unilaterally, despite it being their right as a sovereign nation, will only damage relations. Unless diplomatic and multilateral solutions to this region’s challenges are accepted by the DRC, peace and prosperity will remain a distant dream.

Source: The New Times