Liberation Day – Reflecting on Past and Future


the new times

OPINION

4.July 2015

By Dean Karemera and James Karuhanga
Rwandans today mark the 21st anniversary of the country’s liberation, with the main celebrations taking place in Gicumbi District, the birthplace of the 1990-94 liberation struggle.

The fall of Kigali, 21 years ago today, also marked the end of 100 days of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which left a million people dead.

This year’s anniversary is being held under the theme, “Prosperity in Dignity (which literally translates as ‘Twiteze imbere twihesha Agaciro’), keeping in line with the core values that shaped the Liberation campaign that continue to define today’s national development blueprint.

“We honour those who fought in the struggle for freedom and dignity and those who gave their lives to protect innocent civilians,” said Brig Gen Joseph Nzabamwita, the defence and military spokesperson.

“Yet we are keenly aware that the liberation struggle continues today with view to making Rwanda a self-reliant and a knowledge-driven, middle-income nation.”

President Paul Kagame is expected to preside over the main Liberation Day anniversary event at Rubaya in Gicumbi District, an area that hosted the sickbay of the then Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) rebels during the struggle.

In the lead up to the Liberation Day, the Rwanda Defence Forces moved personnel and logistics to remote areas of Gicumbi, notably in Rubaya, Rutare and Rushaki, where they constructed classrooms, health posts, among others.

“the darkest chapter in the country’s history” and ushered in an era of “unprecedented peace, security and development.”

As part of the annual ‘Army Week’ drive – under which RDF extends essential social services to underprivileged communities across the country – the army inaugurated a health post and six classrooms at Gishambashayo Primary School.

It also constructed a modern market in the area, extended piped clean water and electricity to Gishambashayo Primary School and Rubaya Health Centre; they also provided free medical services to the sick, and rehabilitated the 11-kilometre Gatuna-Rubaya road.

Through Army Week activities, the RDF has enhanced its reputation as a pro-people national army that often sends officers and men with expertise in such fields as medicine and engineering to treat the sick and improve infrastructure in the countryside.

Gen Nzabamwita said by RDF engaging in developmental programmes that directly impact people’s livelihoods, it is simply carrying on with the tenets of the liberation struggle.

“The values that informed the Liberation struggle remain relevant to Rwanda’s journey toward a self-reliant, dignified and prosperous nation,” he said.

“We are carrying out our constitutional mandate of supporting government institutions in development activities. Human security is an important component of liberation, we shall not stop until this country is totally liberated.

“A child that now has a very good primary school will later require a better secondary school, a better technical school and a better university.”

Why Gicumbi?

By taking this year’s Liberation anniversary fete to Gicumbi, Nzabamwita said, the RDF is showing appreciation to the people of the northern part of the country for having worked with the former RPA during the struggle to liberate the country from a genocidal regime.

“These are people that we worked with during the liberation struggle,” he said.

“The population here worked with the RPA and sacrificed a lot towards the liberation of Rwanda and there could be no better way of celebrating with them after 21 years but bringing such vital social services closer to them.”

Gicumbi District is also home to the former headquarters of the RPA during the struggle – Mulindi – where a liberation museum has since been established.

The Genocide left the country in ruins in all facets of life, and the RDF has played a major role in the recovery process, not only through guaranteeing security but also supporting socio-economic development programmes.

‘Liberation Walk’

On the eve of the Liberation Day, youth across the country took part in ‘Liberation Walks’ as a sign of gratitude to the young people that participated in the Liberation struggle.

Patrick Mazimpaka, 26, a resident of Kamatamu Cell in Kimihurura, Kigali, hailed the liberation war heroes, saying they had brought an end to “the darkest chapter in the country’s history” and ushered in an era of “unprecedented peace, security and development.”

“They have introduced us to good leadership, they have given us the opportunity to enjoy our country without living in fear. For example, before the liberation, what I have learnt from reading our history is that people never walked at night but, today, people freely walk at night time without fear of insecurity,” a beaming Mazimpaka said.

He added: “Liberation Day is an occasion to celebrate our heroes, they continue to keep the country safe to this day… that’s why you see all these developmental projects all over the place.”

The youth were among the gallant RPF soldiers who decided to launch the liberation war against the regimes that systematically carried out genocide from 1959 through 1994, Rosemary Mbabazi, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Youth and ICT, said in a statement.

“The values that informed the Liberation struggle remain relevant to Rwanda’s journey toward a self-reliant, dignified and prosperous nation,”

Youth leaders also paid homage to the young men and women that sacrificed their lives or youth in service of their country during the liberation struggle.

“This is a great opportunity for young people to show their appreciation to fellow youth who participated in the liberation of our country,” representatives of the youth countrywide said in a statement.

As part of the preparatory activities ahead of today’s Liberation Day anniversary celebrations, the youth also visited areas with a special history of the Liberation struggle and engaged in voluntary community activities, such as creating ‘kitchen’ (backyard) gardens for vulnerable households to help enhance food security.

Liberation anniversary events are also expected to be organised in the Diaspora.

City Allocates 70 Percent of its Budget to Infrastructure


the new times

By Michel Nkurunziza

The City of Kigali council has approved the 2015/16 Budget, worth Rwf17.8 billion, of which 70 per cent will go toward infrastructure development.

“All ongoing projects are in line with priorities such as transport, water and sanitation, environment, justice, ICT, social protection, urbanisation, youth and others,” Dr Dieudonne Sebashongore, the council’s chairperson, said.

They include affordable housing in such areas as Kinyinya, Ndera, Batsinda II township Rugarama and Agatare in Kiyovu.

Other areas are master plan implementation symposium, Geographical Information System (GIS) data management, training and periodic updates, as well as training and sensitisation on the master plan.

Also in the pipeline are recreational parks and sports facilities, mapping and development guidelines and follow up of Kimironko urban development, street lighting, and relocation of MAGERWA and Nyabugogo car park.

The development projects will also finalise the refurbishment of City Hall, and maintenance of street lights and roads at Rwf4.4 billion, while water and sanitation infrastructure project as well as de-silting of Nyabugogo River and Kinamba culverts will also be handled.

City of Kigali council has approved the 2015/16 Budget, worth Rwf17.8 billion, of which 70 per cent will go toward infrastructure development

Dr Sebashongore said: “We faced some challenges in infrastructure where funds from sponsors delayed while expropriation and compensation were not carried out in a proper manner.”

The Director of Planning in the City of Kigali, Norbert Kamana, said the 2014/15 Budget, which amounted to Rwf17.4 billion, was absorbed at more than 88 per cent.

He said the City will avail studies for road infrastructure development and institute new ones for improvement of seven junctions to curb traffic jam.

The City will also conduct a study for Kigali Ring Roads -those that will encircle the city to help passengers from provinces to continue to other parts of the country without necessarily passing through the city centre.

To improve commuter services, Kamana said 10 new routes will be opened, while 50 new buses with at least 30-seat capacity, and 400 buses with operational free WiFi 4G LTE acquired.

To prevent terrorism and fire outbreaks, 60 commercial buildings, 27 financial institutions, 32 schools, 70 public buildings, 98 hotels, bars and restaurants, 64 health facilities and churches will be installed with appropriate security equipment, he added.

University of Rwanda to Invest in Research to Influence Goverment Policies


the new times

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

Researchers from University of Rwanda have started carrying out studies in various domains they believe will help the government improve policy implementation.

The university officials said this on Tuesday in a two-day workshop in Musanze to assess the progress by researchers.

Prof. Verdiana Grace Masanja, the university’s director for research and post-graduate studies, said the workshop aims at sharing the progress of research being carried out.

Masanja said the research will mainly focus on various domains in sectors such as agriculture, health, general sciences, humanities, entrepreneurship, economics, among others, and its findings will have impact on various government policies.

Forty-three researchers have received grants from the university in the past two years with the support of Swedish International Development Agency.

“One of our primary jobs is to generate new knowledge; a university that does not generate new knowledge is not worth the name. In developing countries, it is research which matters, even the so-called emerging countries, are where they are now because of investing heavily in research,” said Masanja

She added that the research findings will be published in international science journals.

A notable recent initiative is the approval of the University of Rwanda’s Academic Workload Framework.

The framework allocates time for research based on the staff academic level, and it ranges from 25 per cent to 50 per cent from Associate and full professors to dean of schools, according to the officials

Britain’s Bashir-Esque Dilemma – What to Do With the Arrested Rwandan Spy Chief?


(Photo by Daily Maverick)

2015-06-30 15_36_41-Home _ Daily Maverick

By Simon Allison 

He might not be a president, but Rwandan spy chief Karenzi Karake is still a very big fish. His arrest in London, on a Spanish warrant, could precipitate another crisis for international justice. A word of gratuitous advice for the British authorities: This one’s delicate!  Handle with care. 

Another day, another crisis for international justice.

First it was the arrival of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on South African soil, and South Africa’s ensuing failure to arrest him – defying both the International Criminal Court and South Africa’s own judiciary in the process.

Then it was the arrest in Germany of Al-Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour, detained at the airport in Berlin at the request of the Egyptian government. Egypt had convicted Mansour in absentia for allegedly torturing a lawyer in Tahrir Square in 2011, and sentenced him to 15 years’ imprisonment. On Sunday, Mansour was released without charge, with the Germans citing diplomatic, legal and political concerns that could not be ignored (presumably, these have something to do with the Egyptian military regime’s notorious lack of respect for the judicial process, especially when it comes to journalists).

Finally, news broke on Tuesday that Rwandan spy chief Lieutenant-General Emmanual Karenzi Karake, head of the notorious National Intelligence and Security Services, had beenarrested in the United Kingdom while trying to depart from Heathrow. Karake is one of 40 Rwandans indicted by a Spanish judge in 2008 for allegedly ordering revenge massacres in the wake of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. If the process gets that far, it will be to Spain that Karake is extradited.

The three cases represent three very different facets of international justice. Bashir’s is an example of the top-down approach, where an international body investigates and prosecutes international crimes; Mansour’s is an example of the national approach, where bilateral agreements and coordinating bodies like Interpol help countries enforce their national laws in other jurisdictions; and Karake’s is an example of universal jurisdiction in action.

“The term ‘universal jurisdiction’ refers to the idea that a national court may prosecute individuals for any serious crime against international law — such as crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and torture — based on the principle that such crimes harm the international community or international order itself, which individual States may act to protect,” explains the International Justice Resource Centre.

The majority of states (163 of the 193 UN member states, according to Amnesty International) provide for some kind of universal jurisdiction, but few exercise it. Spain is a notable exception. Spain has actively prosecuted international crimes committed in faraway jurisdictions such as Argentina, El Salvador and Guatemala – and, of course, Rwanda.

Karake’s arrest is a major test of universal jurisdiction in action, and there are enough allegations surrounding him to suggest that he should have his day in court. As well as the charges relating to the post-Rwandan genocide massacres, Karake is implicated in the killing of hundreds of civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo during fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan forces.

(Coincidentally, given the current comparisons with Bashir, Karake was appointed in 2007 to head the African Union/United Nations hybrid mission in Darfur, with strong backing from the US and UK. Bashir, of course, is wanted by the ICC on charges of committing genocide in Darfur).

Although the legal case for Britain to extradite Karake to Spain is solid, there are political considerations that might get in the way.

706x410q70simon-rwanda-chiefspy-subbedm

Karenzi Karake in London, on Rwanda Day. (Photo byJambo News)

The most significant is the close relationship between Britain and the Rwandan government. Rwanda is a major destination for British aid, and President Paul Kagame is advised by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Already, Rwanda is putting on heavy diplomatic pressure to secure Karake’s release, with its ambassador the UK describing the arrest as “an insult”. But the British government won’t be able to ignore its courts in the South African manner. Should Karake’s arrest warrant be in order, and all procedures properly followed, it’s going to be difficult to prevent his extradition.

Which begs the question: why was Karake detained in the first place? According to media reports, Karake has made several trips to Britain since 2008, and he has been permitted to leave each time. This implies either that something has changed – most likely, that the furore around Bashir’s non-arrest forced Britain’s hand – or that some border official was a little over-zealous in the execution of his duties, and now it’s too late for anyone to turn a blind eye.

Another factor that the politicians will be considering is the ramifications that extraditing Karake will have on the already strained relations between the African continent and international justice. It will be a public relations coup for African leaders looking for further justification that they are being unfairly targeted by the West. While there are sound reasons for the German court to have released Mansour, and for a British court to extradite Karake, these decisions could just as easily be portrayed as western judiciaries choosing to enforce western arrest warrants (in the case of Spain and Karake) while refusing to enforce African justice (in the case of Egypt and Mansour).

Britain, in other words, is in an extremely delicate position. If it does go ahead with extradition proceedings, and eventually extradite Karake to Spain, it risks angering an important ally and alienating a continent – while giving self-interested leaders more fuel for their claims of western bias in international justice. If it doesn’t, it will have to defy its own rule of law, potentially dealing a crippling blow to the concept of universal jurisdiction in the process. It’s a legal and political minefield, complicated by a diplomatic storm that shows no signs of letting up anytime soon. No one ever said international justice was easy.

How Rwanda’s clinics have gone off-grid and onto renewable energy


ANALYSIS

By Bruce Krogh, Carnegie Mellon University and Taha Selim Ustun

Rwanda is located in the poorest region in the world, sub-Saharan Africa. Despite this, it is making advances with off-grid renewable energy solutions for rural areas that could be a model for similar economies.

Rwanda has harnessed its endowment with enormous, untapped renewable energy generation potential to address the problem of how to get energy into remote parts of the country.

The approach being taken accepts that extending the electricity grid to remote areas is fraught with problems. It is expensive, transport costs are high, and accessibility is difficult. In sub-Saharan Africa, grid-extension costs $23,000 per kilometre.

A project to get clinics in remote areas of Rwanda onto reliable sources of renewable energy has recently been stepped up a notch with the introduction of technology that smooths distribution.

Small-scale generation for remote areas

Off-grid electrical systems, where power is derived from renewable energy, have the potential in Rwanda for taking advantage of several types of small-scale generation.

This has become more feasible with the development of new technologies that have revolutionised the possibilities for making these systems highly resilient and economically sustainable. Examples include smart meters with wireless communication and sophisticated technology for fine-grained monitoring and control.

Rwanda is taking advantage of developments such as this to crack the problem of getting electricity to remote clinics.

Uninterrupted access to electricity is a key requirement for improving care in health facilities. But access to either grid or off-grid electricity is still one of the grand challenges for rural health centres in the region. One-quarter of health facilities are not connected to any source of electricity. On average, three-quarters of facilities have no reliable source of electricity. This leads to a poor health care service delivery.

83% of Rwanda’s population live in rural areas. This makes healthcare in these areas all the more important. And ensuring that healthcare centres have power is vital.

To overcome this obstacle decentralised power sources such as PV systems are becoming popular in rural areas because of their cost effectiveness compared to grid extensions. PV systems basically convert solar energy to direct current electricity using semi-conducting materials. But these have not proved adequate in matching supply with demand because:

  • Health centres operate on a first-come first-serve basis. If health centres continue to use connected electronic devices without proper management, the chances of blackouts will increase and patients will suffer.
  • Unused energy from fewer patients than expected also presents a problem as energy is wasted. Making batteries available to store energy can be a way to ensure less is wasted, help avoid shortages and manage excess demands. But this option is expensive.

The graph below shows the ad-hoc scheduling of energy services in PV-power health clinics. Between t0-t1, the power demand exceeds available solar power. The t1-t2 window sees no load. This results in some services not being delivered, unnecessary use of batteries, and hence a shorter life-time, and less orderly operation.


Existing ways scheduling show overutilisation and underutilisation of the energy generated by solar systems.
Click to enlarge

Smart scheduling has done the trick

Smart scheduling is used to match consumption of active services with the available solar power. This results in minimum use of batteries or other energy sources.

The idea lying behind is as follows: the central controller estimates daily solar profile of the PV panels by pulling solar radiation information from online servers. Then when a physician wants to undertake an operation that requires electricity he sends a request to the central controller. This request includes power consumption and the duration of the operation.

In our prototype, the final decision lies with the system. Different services have different priorities. So, a surgery room may be given the highest priority during system planning. If an emergency occurs and a surgery room is fed into the system, it will be given the highest priority.

But human intervention is possible. The central controller is a photo voltaic (PV) inside the clinic. This means that a clinic administrator or the highest ranking physician can tap into the system, remove some services from the list and add some others.

The central controller checks the available solar power and the loads that are already being served. If there is sufficient excess energy, the request is confirmed and the energy is delivered. If there is not sufficient energy the controller schedules the request to when there will be enough energy. This may happen due to solar radiation, hence the generation, increasing or a service that was already receiving energy load being terminated.

In this way, facilities are used in a smart way and solar generation is used as it is generated.

Copied from The Conversation.

All The Lies in ‘Hotel Rwanda’


the new times
By Eugene Kwibuka
Rwandans who survived the Genocide at Hotel des Mille Collines during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and experts have said that a new book by Edouard Kayihura is a major contribution in the fight against Paul Rusesabagina’s lies that he saved Tutsis at the hotel.
hotel_rwanda

They made the declarations, yesterday, in Kigali while attending the launch of the book, “Inside the Hotel Rwanda: The Surprising True Story… and Why It Matters Today.”

Through Hollywood movie, Hotel Rwanda, Rusesabagina comes across as Oskar Schindler, an ethnic German industrialist, spy, and member of the Nazi party, who is credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.

Hotel-Rwanda

Indeed, Rusesabagina rides on the fame he gained from the movie, Hotel Rwanda, to tell the world that he used his influence during the 1994 Genocide to save hundreds of Tutsi and other Rwandans who had sought refuge at the prestigious Hotel des Mille Collines (now Hotel des Mille Collines by Kempinski) in Kigali.

But the hotel’s refugees who survived the Genocide after the Rwanda Patriotic Army negotiated their freedom don’t endorse Rusesabagina’s version of the events.

Through ‘Inside the Hotel Rwanda’, Kayihura, himself a survivor from the hotel, tells the story of what really happened during the Genocide and discredits the 2004 Hollywood film that he said inaccurately portrayed Rusesabagina as a hero.

While launching his book, Kayihura said Rusesabagina was more interested in selling hotel services at the Mille Collines than helping the refugees.

Hotel-Rwanda-Christian-Movie-Christian-Film-DVD-Paul-Rusesabagina

He said that access to water and telephone were cut off for the refugees when Rusesabagina arrived at the hotel as its manager.

Kayihura said Rusesabagina would also threaten to send the refugees out to their killers when they failed to raise money for hotel bills.

“Rusesabagina has always been a war profiteer and a friend of those who committed the Genocide. We survived because the Rwanda Patriotic Front stopped the Genocide and saved all of us. We must clarify distortions and misconceptions while we are alive,” Kayihura said.

Some of those who survived the Genocide at Hotel des Mille Collines praised the writer for telling their true story and exposing Rusesabagina’s flawed narrative.

“When I was reading this book, I reviewed in my mind all that happened at the hotel and reading the book it is as if it happened yesterday,” Wellars Gasamagera, another survivor from the hotel said.

Read also:

Analysis by Ivan R. Mugisha: What Really Happened Inside Hotel Rwanda?

King of the Mountains


… it’s been a long time I haven’t posted anything. Here I am. First of all giving my greates honours to Samuel Mugisha, the King of the thousand moutains.

Growing up, Samuel dreamed of being a part of the Rwandan national cycling team, Team Rwanda, as he believed it would be a way to help make money for his family. What he discovered was something else entirely. In a country trying to get over the trauma of a genocide, Team Rwanda represents a lot more than sport. It represented hope.

Rwanda fastest growing economy in ten years


REPORT

THE NEW TIMES

 

Mothers display their Mutuelle de Sante cards. Experts attribute Rwanda’s performance to provision of health care to all citizens. File.

By Ben GASORE & Athan TASHOBYA

26. July 2014

Rwanda recorded the fastest growth in Africa between the years 2000 and 2013, according to the latest UN Human Development Report (HDR).

Compiled annually by the United Nations Development Programme, the 2014 report was launched on Thursday in Tokyo, Japan. It is entitled; ‘Sustaining human progress: reducing vulnerabilities and building resilience.’

It says  that between 2000 and 2013, Sub Saharan Africa was the second sub-region in as far as achieving high progress in human development is concerned. Human development, according to UNDP, has a combination of three factors; income, health and education.

“Rwanda and Ethiopia achieved the fastest growth, followed by Angola, Burundi, Mali, Mozambique, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia, the report reads in part.

For sustainability, the UN urges countries to transition from agriculture-based economies to industry and services, while supporting investments in infrastructure and education so that more people can get jobs in the formal sector.

“Africa is enjoying higher levels of economic growth and well-being, but insecurity, as well as natural or human-induced disasters, persist in some parts of the region,” Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, the Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa, is quoted saying in a statement.

He said countries in Sub-Saharan Africa need to intensify their battle against deprivation and prevent crises from ruining recent development gains.

“Withstanding crises and protecting the most vulnerable, who are the most affected, are key to sustainable development,” he said.

“The eradication of poverty is not just about ‘getting to zero’—it is also about staying there,” the Administrator of UNDP, Helen Clark, points out in the Foreword, adding that the report’s focus on resilience is highly relevant to the current discussions on the post-2015 global development agenda.

Social protection

Furthermore, social protection schemes such as unemployment insurance and pensions, universal health coverage and cash transfers can help individuals and communities weather difficult times and invest in the future, says the report.

Under the social protection initiatives in the just concluded 2013/2014 national budget, government continued to support the needy, including Genocide survivors, by giving them health care, education, monthly stipends and fostering income generating activities.

Expert’s take 

In an interview with The New Times, Andrew Mold, a senior economist with the UN Economic Commission for Africa based in Kigali, attributed Rwanda’s performance to provision of health care to the citizenry.

“The report singles out China, Rwanda and Vietnam for having achieved the transition from very low health care coverage to nearly universal coverage within just a decade,” said Mold, who heads the Eastern Africa Data Centre for UNECA.

He said this was reflected in the country’s rapidly growing life expectancy.

“Back in 2000, it was just 47 years but it is now close to 64 years which is impressive by any standards,” he said.

On the financial component, he said the steady economic growth was another attribute that led to the country’s commendation in the report, saying that much as the country’s ambitious 11.5 per cent growth rate set out in EDPRS II has not yet been achieved, income per capita has grown steadily over the past decade.

EDPRS II is the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy, a blueprint adopted to steer the country’s development for a five-year period, starting 2013.

“The performance has still been good, at over 7 per cent per annum. Moreover, despite the global economic recession in 2008-9, the Rwandan economy proved to be quite resilient,” Mold said.

Contact email: Ben.gasore[at]newtimes.co.rw

 

 

Source: www.newtimes.co.rw

Happy Liberation Day, after all…


girl holding flag

Photo: Rwandan girl holding US & Rwandan flag. Source: anotherwilhem.blogspot.com

This Friday, on the 04th of July 2014 Rwanda and Rwandans all over the world will celebrate 20 years of peace and growing prosperity. Twenty years ago, back in 1994, that date marked the end of the Rwandan Genocide and gave birth to a new government that kind of rose from the ashes.

How “libre” are we?

Rwanda has (hopefully had) a very turbulent and tragic history. The country’s journey has been long, pain- and eventful. The first three decades of Rwanda’s independence were characterized by unfortunate upheavals perpetuated by ideologically bankrupt politics. This culminated into the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in which over one million people were annihilated in just a 100 days. During the dark three months of the Genocide, Rwanda died and descended into an almost failed state.

The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the current leading political party, led by President Paul Kagame ended the  genocide by defeating the civilian and military authorities responsible for the killing campaign. As RPF troops advanced south down the eastern side of the country and then swept west, they encountered little opposition from government forces, except around Kigali. They drove military, militia, and other assailants from the region and so made it possible for Tutsi to return from the swamps and bush and to emerge from their hiding places. The RPF soldiers saved tens of thousands from annihilation. They even stopped the killers in the act of attacking or preparing to attack Tutsi at several churches or camps and relentlessly pursued those whom they thought guilty of genocide. In their drive for military victory and a halt to the genocide, the RPF killed thousands, including noncombatants as well as government troops and members of militia.

As RPF soldiers sought to establish their control over the local population, they also killed civilians in numerous summary executions and in massacres. They may have slaughtered tens of thousands during the four months of combat from April to July. The killings diminished in August and were markedly reduced after mid-September when the international community exerted pressure for an end to the carnage. Carried out by soldiers who were part of a highly disciplined military organization, these killings by the RPF rarely involved civilian participation, except to identify the persons to be slain. In only a few cases, particularly in areas near the border with Burundi, civilian assailants reportedly joined soldiers in attacking other civilians.

During the months when the RPF was just establishing its control, it is quite certain that the kinds of abuses that occurred must have been directed by officers at a high level of responsibility, but most reports of the genocide focused on the genocide itself and the crimes committed by the RPF are very poorly documented.

The first convincing evidence of wide-spread, systematic killings by the RPF was gathered by a UNHCR team dispatched for another purpose. When the team and the head of the UNHCR attempted responsibly to bring the information to the attention of the international community, the U.N. decided to suppress it, not just in the interests of the recently established Rwandan government but also to avoid further discredit to itself. The U.S., and perhaps other member states, concurred in this decision, largely to avoid weakening the new Rwandan government…

Between 1994 and 2003, Rwanda was governed by a set of documents combining President Habyarimana’s 1991 constitution, the Arusha Accords, and some additional protocols introduced by the transitional government. As required by the accords, Kagame set up a constitutional commission to draft a new permanent constitution. The constitution was required to adhere to a set of fundamental principles including equitable power sharing and democracy. The commission sought to ensure that the draft constitution was “home-grown”, relevant to Rwanda’s specific needs, and reflected the views of the entire population. They sent questionnaires to civil groups across the country and rejected offers of help from the international community, except for financial assistance.

The draft constitution was released in 2003. It was approved by the parliament, and was then put to a referendum in May of that year. The referendum was widely promoted by the government; ultimately, 95% of eligible adults registered to vote and the turnout on voting day was 87%. The constitution was overwhelmingly accepted, with 93% voting in favor.

The constitution provided for a two-house parliament, an elected president serving seven-year terms, and multi-party politics.

The constitution also sought to prevent Hutu or Tutsi hegemony over political power.

Article 54 states that:

“political organizations are prohibited from basing themselves on race, ethnic group, tribe, clan, region, sex, religion or any other division which may give rise to discrimination”.

According to Human Rights Watch, this clause, along with later laws enacted by the parliament, effectively make Rwanda a , as “under the guise of preventing another genocide, the government displays a marked intolerance of the most basic forms of dissent”.

 What does peace and development look like in Rwanda?

children-in-independance-day

Photo: Children at the Liberation Day 2012. Source: rwanda-in-liberation.blogvie.com

Rwanda’s economy has grown rapidly under Kagame’s presidency, with per-capita gross domestic product estimated at $1,592 in 2013, compared with $567 in 2000. Annual growth between 2004 and 2010 averaged 8% per year. Kagame’s economic policy is based on liberalizing  the economy, privatizing state owned industries, reducing red tape for businesses and transforming the country from an agricultural to a knowledge-based economy. Kagame vision for 2020 is to emulate the economic development of Singapore since the 60’s and achieve a middle income country status.

The Vision 2020 program consists of a list of goals which the government aims to achieve before the year 2020.These are:

  • Goof governance 
  • An efficient state
  • Skilled human capital, including education, health and information technology 
  • A vibrant private sector
  • A world-class physical infrastructure
  • Modern agriculture and livestock

Rwanda is a country of few natural resources,and the economy is heavily dependent on subsistence agriculture, with an estimated 90% of the working population engaged in farming. Under Kagame’s presidency, however, the service sector  has grown strongly. In 2010, it became the country’s largest sector by economic output, contributing 43.6% of the country’s GDP. Key tertiary contributors include banking and finance, wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants, transport, storage, communication, insurance, real estate, business services, and public administration, including education and health. Information and communication technology (ICT) is a Vision 2020 priority, with a goal of transforming Rwanda into an ICT hub for Africa. To this end, the government has completed a 2,300 kilometers (1,400 mi) fiber-optic telecommunications network, intended to provide broadband services and facilitate electronic commerce.

Tourism is one of the fastest-growing economic resources and became the country’s leading foreign exchange earner in 2011. In spite of the genocide’s legacy, Kagame’s achievement of peace and security means the country is increasingly perceived internationally as a safe destination the first half of 2011, 16% of foreign visitors arrived from outside Africa. The country’s mountain gorillas  attract thousands of visitors per year, who are prepared to pay high prices for permits (500$ for non-Rwandan!).

Rwanda ranks highly in several categories of the World Bank’s ease of doing business index.

The Rwanda Development Board asserts that a business can be authorized and registered in 24 hours. The country’s overall ease of doing business index ranking is fifty-second out of 185 countries worldwide, and third out of 46 in Sub-Saharan Africa. The business environment and economy also benefit from relatively low corruption in the country. In 2010,Transparency International ranked Rwanda as the eighth cleanest out of 47 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and sixty-sixth cleanest out of 178 in the world.  

Health & education indicators dramatically improved

Kagame’s government has made education a high priority for his administration, allocating 17% of the annual budget to the sector. The Rwandan government provides free education in state-run schools for twelve years: Six years in primary and six in secondary school. The final three years of free education were introduced in 2012 following a pledge by Kagame during his 2010 re-election campaign. Kagame credits his government with improvements in the tertiary education sector. The number of universities has risen from 1 in 1994 to 29 in 2010, and the tertiary gross enrolment ratio increased from 4% in 2008 to 7% in 2011.

From 1994 until 2009, secondary education was offered in either French or English. Since 2009, due to the country’s increasing ties with the East African Community and the Commonwealth of Nations, English has been the sole language of instruction in public schools from primary school grade 4 onward. The country’s literacy rate, defined as those aged 15 or over who can read and write, was 71% in 2009, up from 38% in 1978 and 58% in 1991. Rwanda’s health profile is dominated by communicable diseases,including malaria, pneumonia and HIV/AIDS.

Prevalence and mortality rates have sharply declined in the past decade but the short supply or unavailability of certain medicines continues to challenge disease management. Kagame’s government is seeking to improve this situation as one of the Vision 2020 priorities by increasing funding and setting up more training institutes such as the Kigali Health Institute (KHI), and in 2008 effected laws making health insurance mandatory for all individuals by 2010, over 90% of the population was covered.

These policies have contributed to a steady increase in quality of healthcare and improvement in key indicators during Kagame’s presidency. In 2010, 91 children died before their fifth birthday for every 1000 live births, down from 163 under five deaths for every 1000 live births in 1990. Prevalence of some diseases is declining, including the elimination of maternal and neonatal tetanus and a sharp reduction in malaria morbidity, mortality rate and specific lethality. In response to shortages in qualified medical personnel, in 2011 the Rwandan government launched an eight-year US$151.8 million initiative to train medical professionals.

So we’re all good, now?  

The results of the iron management methods of Kagame’s government have surely not gone unnoticed. His economic policy has been praised by many foreign donors and investors, including Bill Clinton (Clinton  referred to Kagame as “one of the greatest leaders of our time”) * and Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz.  However, the DRC government and human rights groups have accused Rwanda of illegally exploiting Congolese minerals,which the London Daily Telegraph describes as an “important part” in the success of Rwanda’s economy Read: London Daily Telegraph article: “Paul Kagame: Rwanda’s redeemer or ruthless dictator”.

In 2010 Kagame’s relations with the US and UK came a under strain, following allegations that Rwanda is supporting the M23 rebel movement in Eastern Congo. The UK suspended its budgetary aid program in 2012, freezing a £21 million donation. The US has also frozen some of its military aid program for Rwanda, although it stopped short of suspending aid altogether.

Today, it’s hard to imagine where Rwanda will be on its 40th 4th of July Independence day but if I were to bet on it, it will be nothing like how we used to know it.

About Bill & Paul…
*As the killing intensified in April 1994, the international community deserted Rwanda.  Western nations landed troops in Rwanda or Burundi in the first week to evacuate their citizens, did so, and left.  The UN mission (UNAMIR), created in October 1993 to keep the peace and assist the governmental transition in Rwanda, sought to intervene between the killers and civilians.  It also tried to mediate between the RPF and the Rwandan army after the RPF struck from Rwanda to protect Tutsi and rescue their battalion encamped in Kigali as part of the Accord.  On April 21, 1994, the United Nations Security Council, at the behest of the United States—which had no troops in Rwanda—Belgium, and others, voted to withdraw all but a remnant of UNAMIR.  The Security Council took this vote and others concerning Rwanda even as the representative of the genocidal regime sat among them as a non-permanent member.  After human rights, media, and diplomatic reports of the carnage mounted, the UN met and debated and finally arrived at a compromise response on May 16.  UNAMIR II, as it was to be known, would be a more robust force of 5,500 troops.  Again, however, the world failed to deliver, as the full complement of troops and materiel would not arrive in Rwanda until months after the genocide ended.  Faced with the UN’s delay, but also concerned about its image as a former patron and arms supplier of the Habyarimana regime, France announced on June 15 that it would intervene to stop the killing.  In a June 22 vote, the UN Security Council gave its blessing to this intervention; that same day, French troops entered Rwanda from Zaire.  While intending a wider intervention, confronted with the RPF’s rapid advance across Rwanda, the French set up a “humanitarian zone” in the southwest corner of Rwanda.  Their intervention succeeded in saving tens of thousands of Tutsi lives; it also facilitated the safe exit of many of the genocide’s plotters, who were allies of the French. [Read: “The U.S. and The Genocide – Evidence of Inaction]
Sources:
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Kagame
http://www.hrw.org/reports/1999/rwanda/Geno15-8-03.htm
http://www.newtimes.co.rw/news/index.php?a=68456&i=15412
http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/happy-liberation-day-rwanda/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB53/

It Is Economic Development That Demonstrates Government’s Respect for Human Rights


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Analysis

by Richard KARUGARAMA Lebero

14/03/2014

On 7th April, Rwanda marks 20 years since the 1994 genocide. A lot has been written about Rwanda’s journey and, as is to be expected, much of the commentary is misleading, lacking sufficient understanding of the extent to which Rwanda has been transformed over the last 20 years.

This year’s theme – unite, remember and renew – aptly reminds us to commit ourselves towards ensuring that genocide never happens in any part of the world.

We also have the opportunity to reflect on Rwanda’s transformation and deliberate upon the lessons post conflict countries can draw from its resilience.

The narrative of Rwanda’s past is one of anger and pain. Starting from the colonial period and stretching up to the 1994 genocide,Rwanda was a deeply divided society entrenched with the scourge of ethnic politics and bad leadership.

Although the colonialists did not invent the Hutu and Tutsis ethnic identities (historically the labels existed), colonial intervention changed the meaning, practice and importance attached to these labels.

Following the 1994 genocide, modern Rwanda articulated and implemented a vision of co-existence between Hutus, Tutsis and Twa which emphasizes the virtues of being Rwandan.

The dividends from collective reconciliation and nation rebuilding have resulted in unprecedented social, economic and political transformation.

Rwanda’s rebirth is by all measures remarkable considering that for over five decades it was characterized by systemic governance failures, authoritarian rule, entrenched ethnic tensions, corruption and a spiral of extra judicial killings.

Indeed, the failure of state institutions to galvanise citizens into productive means of labour and the use of government structures as instruments of social disharmony, culminated in the horrors of 1994 and the loss of one million lives.

Twenty years after the genocide Rwanda is experiencing significant improvement in poverty levels, women and youth empowerment, transparency and accountability, democratic governance, respect for the rule of law and a profound mindset shift towards self-reliance.

The depth of reforms and the increasing levels of efficiency are well captured in numerous governance and business surveys conducted periodically by reputable institutions.

On the basis of the reforms, Rwanda ranks favorably across most indicators. For instance, in the 2014 World Bank ‘Doing Business Report’, Rwanda is ranked as the second most improved country in the world and the second easiest place to do business in Africa.

Despite evident improvement in social well being, modern Rwanda regularly witnesses unprecedented attacks – some commentators arguing that economic development has been achieved at the expense of human rights.

Historically, this type of commentary is not unprecedented and is well illustrated by the experience of Singapore – once accused of trading off human rights for economic prosperity.

But Singapore’s journey from third world to first world country demonstrates that the one size fit all approach to democracy and human rights barely makes a dent in the challenge of improving the material state of people’s lives.

As Professor Kishore Mahbubani correctly argues, economic development is the only force with the power to liberate the Third World. In essence, human rights can only be enjoyed when people are liberated from the scourge of hunger, insecurity, disease and poverty.

It is also too simplistic to argue that emerging countries such as Rwanda are advancing economically at the expense of human rights. The premise of this argument overlooks the fact that strides in economic development are intertwined with respect for human rights.

The two are not mutually exclusive as there can be no economic development without the respect and protection of fundamental freedoms.

The philosophical underpinning of human rights is both controversial and ambiguous because protection of fundamental rights means different things in different parts of the world.

The most recent Gallup poll best illustrates this point; it ranks Rwanda as the safest place to live in Africa with 92% of ordinary Rwandans feeling safe and secure. Additionally, the poll shows that among African countries, Rwanda is the safest place for women to flourish.

Even without the Gallup survey, Rwanda’s respect for gender equality is unprecedented – 64% of Rwanda’s parliament is constituted by women (the highest globally). Moreover, the Constitution stipulates that for all leadership positions, women must constitute a minimum of 30%.

The trust and confidence ordinary Rwandans place in state institutions to guarantee security, law and order extends to other important rights such as privacy, life and dignity which are cornerstones of human existence.

It is only through guaranteeing respect for the rule of law and a peaceful environment that people are able to freely exercise their right to dignity, privacy, life and freedom of expression.

Put succinctly, personal liberties do not operate in a vacuum – such rights are meaningless without a certain level of development. Indeed, over the last twenty years, modern Rwanda has strived to lift ordinary people out of poverty because only when people have been liberated from it can they fully enjoy personal liberties.

 

Source: African Arguments