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?
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]
THE NEW TIMES
by James MUNYANEZA
Photo: President Kagame and Howard Buffett share a light moment during the International Quality of Life Award held at the UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday. The New Times/Village Urugwiro
Rwanda values organisations and individuals that do not seek to impose their will but rather align their support with the priorities of the recipient countries, President Kagame has said.
The President was on Tuesday speaking in New York where he delivered a keynote speech on the occasion to honor Howard G. Buffett, an American philanthropist, for his significant contributions to the improvement of the quality of life in developing countries, including Rwanda.
“As we, in Rwanda, look back on our journey of recovery and nation building and as we reflect on the core values of dignity and self-determination that guide our efforts, there are organisations and individuals whose partnership and support stand out. Howard’s is one of them,” he said.
For his work in making significant and lasting contributions to individual, family and community well-being locally and around the world, Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences honoured Howard with the International Quality of Life Award.
Buffett is chair and chief executive of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, a private charitable foundation working to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the world’s most impoverished and marginalised populations.
Describing him as a unique partner, the President said the IQLA laureate was different from many visitors from foreign governments, academic institutions and NGOs, who arrive in Africa with “preconceived ideas based upon where they come from, what they have heard or read”
Some of these partners, Kagame said, while they often come to the region with good intentions, tend to believe that they understand the situation better than those they seek to help, thereby making the mistake of being overly prescriptive.
“However, Howard [Buffett] has been different. He came to our region with an open mind, ready to listen, learn and share; and not to dictate – and he genuinely used what he learned to inform his actions and investments,” the Head of State told the audience.
“Howard [Buffett] has been a friend to many, including the people of Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa for more than fifteen years. He has made significant contributions to the improvement of the quality of life that should be recognised and respected,” the President said of the laureate.
In the case of Rwanda, Kagame said, Howard [Buffett] has “sought to understand the country and brought in support and perspective that have helped address our particular challenges.”
Photo: A busy Rwanda-DR Congo border post. The country’s capacity building could grow through leaps and bounds with partners such as Howard Buffett who give unconditionally. The New Times/ File
Approach to partnerships
Sharing Rwanda’s approach to partnerships, President Kagame explained that in order to achieve the country’s national vision and overcome adversity, Rwanda has continued to challenge conventional wisdom.
“Our situation has taught us to value and appreciate people of conviction who have the courage to do the right thing even when it is considered controversial by others. Howard [Buffett] is one of those people,” he added.
President Kagame said when he met Buffett in August, the American philanthropist committed to two things: partnering to modernise and develop DRC-Rwanda border post; and supporting Rwanda’s Strategic Capacity Building Initiative to strengthen government institutions.
In a statement released yesterday, the Howard Buffett Foundation announced a US$3.7 million grant for the Government of Rwanda Strategic Capacity Building Initiative (SCBI).
“Rwanda’s development successes can be attributed to its aid effectiveness and its investments in governments and institutions,” Buffett said.
“If Western donors truly want to support African-led development, and bring an end to Africa’s reliance on outside aid, it’s critical they support important efforts like SCBI.”
President Kagame also lauded the American for his Africa Great Lakes Peace Initiative which seeks to fund specific development projects in eastern DR Congo, with the President saying this “will play a significant part in lasting peace and stability that is sought in the DRC and beyond”
“Howard’s work should serve as an example to those who want to build meaningful partnerships that make an actual difference in the lives of those who need it the most,” the President said of the recipient of the IQLA.
Howard, the eldest son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, also operates a 1,500-acre family farm in central Illinois, and is involved with improving production practices for smallholder farmers in developing countries in Africa and Latin America.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, received a lifetime achievement award. Other notable attendees were UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson and actress Eva Longoria.
Contact email: james.munyaneza[at]newtimes.co.rw
Source: The New Times
THE NEW TIMES
23. August 2013
by Lonzen RUGIRA
Photo: Eric Kamba (Before It’s News)
I read with consternation an article titled “How Rwanda threatens its future’ by David Kampf which was published in The New York Times on August 16, in which he urges the international community to put pressure on Rwanda due to what he calls interference in the Congo.
He argues that because of Rwanda’s “longstanding ethnic rivalry,” its interference in the Congo is motivated by a “desire to create a protective buffer along the border.” He also points to a second motivation of wanting to control that country’s minerals.
For the uninformed of the western world, these may appear to be plausible assertions, especially since the person making them spent at least two years in Rwanda, from 2006 to 2008. The logic underlying his assertions, however, is problematic.
His point of departure that ‘collective guilt over the 1994 genocide’ resulted in the international community treating Rwanda with kid gloves is at best insensitive, at worst offensive.
Rwanda is unequalled in the region, possibly in Africa, in its management and use of aid. It is not merely guilt; it is the value for money donors get for their buck. There are also questions about the integrity of the NYT and its attitude towards Rwanda and Rwandans.
It is highly unlikely that it would publish an article in which the author calls on the Jews and Israel to stop the guilt trip and ‘get over the Holocaust.’ It is as if to say “Rwandans are Africans, after all” and to imply that somehow genocide against Africans can be minimised.
The idea that Rwanda interferes with the Congo because of the supposed Hutu-Tutsi rivalry is silly and naïve, to say the least. That Rwanda would go all the way to Congo to “create a protective buffer” against “the Hutu” when millions of them live inside the country is illogical.
And even if what he had in mind were the FDLR, all Rwanda has to do is tighten up on its internal security. The idea that only a buffer can contain the FDLR is therefore nonsensical. In fact, if the buffer was against genocidaires, it would have to be legitimate and warranted.
There is also the implied argument, which promotes the idea that the rebels in the Congo are merely ordinary Hutus – presumably fighting for some legitimate cause.
I don’t really know if the Rwandan army is in the DRC. What I can say is that if its not, then it ought to be. That is because no responsible government would accept the presence of an armed force, with an expressed intent to eliminate part of its population and an experience of slaughter, right across its border.
If any idea was powerful in the past decade, it was the Bush doctrine – the legitimacy of preemptive self-defence when faced with an existential threat, such as Al-Qaida terrorism in the American context and FDLR terrorism in the Rwandan context.
Despite the credit, this idea was not invented by Bush; it was originated and perfected as a foreign policy tool by the Jewish state.
Another way to minimise the genocidal threat faced by Rwanda is to argue that Rwanda’s ‘interference’ with the Congo is motivated by the pursuit of minerals.
Try to understand. Poor governance fuels wars, which sustain themselves through resource competition. Militias take control of the trade in minerals to buy guns from arms dealers under the connivance of international capital.
This cycle can only be stopped by an effective state that is able to police its entire territory and win the trust of its citizenry. This is the only way Congo will control its vast mineral resources. Kampf is right on this point, however: Rwanda cannot be blamed for Congo’s problems, its ‘inept and corrupt governance.’
Kampf is also right that Rwanda has made tremendous progress since the genocide in 1994. But it is in elaborating this point that he speaks from both sides of his mouth.
He calls for international sanctions against the government while admitting that the brunt of the hardships would fall on the ordinary Rwandans, and that the tremendous socioeconomic gains – in health and livelihood – would likely be reversed.
Yet, he still prefers sanctions to induce behavioral change. With friends like these who needs enemies?
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the tradeoff. On one side is an existential threat and on the other is a threat of sanctions. No friend of Rwanda should wish for such a scenario.
And then the oft beaten drum: democracy. Kampf thinks that Rwanda’s progress is stunted by the supposed controls on civil liberties – human rights, freedom of expression and of the media, and political exclusion. So, is the country making tremendous progress or is it stunted?
He is also convinced that the country is ready to “explode” once Kagame leaves power. While he is entitled to his opinion, he should remember that there are millions of Rwandans in Rwanda whose interest in long-term peace and stability is enough to ensure that his fantasies will remain fantasies.
Clearly Rwanda is not a conventional multi-party democracy the likes of David Kampf are familiar with and would like to impose on everyone. But is its politics exclusionary?
For narrow-minded analysts unable to see beyond what is familiar, that certainly is how things look. However, as Frederick Golooba-Mutebi argued in The East African recently, post-genocide Rwanda has chosen the politics of accommodation over contestation.
Rwandans learned from the multiparty politics of the 1990s that competitive winner-take-all politics was bad for cohesion and harmony, and deciding on a consensus-based approach that favours power sharing.
As he demonstrated, politics in Rwanda would be exclusionary under a winner-take-all political system the likes of David Kampf want to impose on it, but which Rwanda’s leadership rejects.
Will the system change to suit the preferences of Western lesson givers of the David Kampf ilk? It is up to Rwandans, not patronising outsiders, to decide
RWANDA FOCUS (Kigali)
by Kenneth AGUTAMBA 01. July 2013
Photo: Presidents Kenyatta and Kagame shake hands, while President Yoweri Museveni looks on. (Source: The Monitor)
Call it an alliance within an alliance, but that’s probably exactly what East Africa needs if the integration process is to yield fast and tangible results.
So when the trinity of Kagame, Kenyatta and Kaguta met in Kampala last week, it was good news when Rwandans, Kenyans and Ugandans heard that their leaders had discussed not politics but projects that would ease trade and increase business opportunities for them.
The ever inquisitive journalists in Kampala couldn’t stop throwing about the question of the whereabouts of Tanzania’s Kikwete and Burundi’s Nkurunziza but all this was beside the main point.
In the end, what mattered for ordinary nationals of the three states is that the threesome agreed to invest in an oil pipe line and a railway line that would run from Kenya through Uganda to Rwanda.
Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa, who read the Memorandum of Understanding after the meeting by the three presidents, revealed that two oil pipelines would be developed; one pipeline that currently exists and brings oil products from Mombasa to El-doret should be extended to Kampala and then Rwanda.
The MoU further reveals that that pipeline will be configured to have a reverse mechanism so that when Uganda starts harvesting her own Oil, it can pump those products backwards.
Another pipeline, it was revealed, would be constructed for the evacuation of crude oil when it starts flowing and this again will be done between Uganda, South Sudan and Kenya, ending up at the port of Lamu.
Uganda’s Kutesa further revealed that it was also agreed to revamp the existing railway network and also construct a standard gauge railway line in Kenya and Uganda and also extend it to Rwanda.
Projects to reduce transport costs
Uganda’s President told journalists even if they were three leaders, they could still talk about EAC affairs adding that the absence the two other leaders was irrelevant.
“Even if you are two or three, you still talk about EAC issues.”
But even in reality, the alliance of the trinity makes sense. Uganda and Rwanda are two landlocked countries whose main port of entry for their imports is through Mombasa. An alliance with Kenya would therefore make great a lot of sense.
And to make sure these projects don’t end up being white elephant wishes, assignments were shared among the three countries.
Rwanda was charged with coordinating efforts of fast tracking the implementation of one East African Identity Card as well as the Single tourism Visa.
A single tourist Visa would mean a tourist entering East Africa would need just a single Visa to tour in Kenya, Uganda or Rwanda a move which would boost tourism earnings for the three states.
The Single identity card would also mean citizens of the three countries would walk freely across all the borders increasing opportunities to do business.
Meanwhile, Uganda was charged with spearheading the construction of the railway and the oil pipeline refinery while Kenya will oversee the construction of the oil pipeline.
It’s not clear where all the resources of implementing these projects will come from but observers say that if there’s political will then the resources will be easy to mobilize.
During recent summits by heads of state, bilateral negotiations have been encouraged to expedite the implementation of certain decisions. For instance, EAC partner states have been encouraged to go bilateral when it comes to the removal of NTBs on major routes. Rwanda is also working with Burundi and Tanzania on energy and road projects.
Rwanda biggest winner
Of the three states, Rwanda could be the biggest winner considering its distance from the border with Kenya. A fully working railway line would mean Rwandan traders easily move goods from Kenya to Kigali a development that would reduce on the cost of goods in Rwanda.
On the tourism front, Rwanda would also benefit from Kenya’s much larger tourism sector which receives more visitors annually.
An oil pipeline pumping refined oil products through Uganda to Rwanda would also have far reaching benefits considering the time oil tankers spend on the road on a single route from Kenya to Kigali.
There’s also the Geopolitics issue at hand. With these joint investments in place after costing a lot of money, the three states would work towards maintaining stable relations among them so as not to endanger the investments.
And for Rwanda, there’s one more relief; with a smoother route from Mombasa through Uganda, traffic would be shifted from the troublesome Dar-es-laam route where the recurring NTBs are an endless head ache to traders.
While skeptics have been quick to dismiss the meeting of Kagame, Kenyatta and Kaguta as harboring other secret motives, what will be important to the businessman is whether the projects actually take off.
There were no time deadlines given but there will surely be more meetings in the near future by the three leaders and these will be interesting to watch.
Uganda-Kenya oil pipeline to be extended to Rwanda
During a meeting held yesterday in Kampala, the Presidents of Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, it was agreed that an oil pipeline connecting the three countries.
“It was agreed that we develop two oil pipelines, one pipeline that currently exists and brings products from Mombsa to Eldoret should be extended to Kampala and Rwanda. That pipeline will be configured such that it has to have a reverse mechanism so that when we have our own finished products, it can pump those products backwards,” read a memorandum of understanding signed by Presidents Yoweri Museveni, Uhuru Kenyatta and Paul Kagame.[read more…]
Source: Rwanda Focus
The Oxford Student
22 May 2013
By News Team
University of Pittsburgh Students. Photo: Alan Vangpat/The Tartan
Unease has been expressed concerning a scheduled visit of Rwandan president Paul Kagame to the Säid Business School, in light of numerous allegations accusing him of human rights violations.
Mr Kagame is due to arrive in Oxford on Friday 18th May, when he will deliver a keynote address in the Oxford Africa Business Conference as well as being awarded the inaugural Distinction of Honour for African Growth Award.
The decision to give Mr Kagame this award in light the recent allegations has been questioned by a number of academics and students, who have started a campaign calling for the Säid Business School to cancel their engagement with him.
The Oxford Africa Business Conference is a student led organization and the decision to award Kagame the honour was taken by students of the Business School.
Salvator Cusimano, an M.Sc candidate in Refugee studies and leader of the campaign against Mr Kagame’s visit, commented: “As it stands, the University will appear to condone Mr. Kagame’s actions at a time when even the governments of the United States and the UK – Rwanda’s staunchest allies – have distanced themselves from Mr. Kagame and his government.
“As members of the Oxford community, we have a responsibility to use our influence to reverse the Business School’s serious error of judgment.
“We have a unique opportunity to promote human rights and defend our University’s reputation, and we must act. “
The campaign has sent a letter to the Dean of the Business School, the Vice-Chancellor of the University as well as the head of the African Studies Centre detailing why the visit should be cancelled, and has started an e-petition which has received over 260 signatures in its first 24 hours.
The Säid Business School has commented “We prize open discussion and in line with the University’s Freedom of Speech policy the students have invited President Kagame to speak and there will be the opportunity for those present to challenge him as appropriate.
“We are aware that President Kagame is a controversial figure and his presence here implies no endorsement of his views or actions. We have taken the view that it’s appropriate to ask him to address any issues that are put to him from a platform in Oxford.”
The controversy surrounding Kagame stems from the accusation that he has silenced opposition politicians and journalists support for rebels in DMC including the paramilitary M23 movement, and illegal exploitation of Congolese resources.
Dominic Burridge, a DPhil Candidate from Oriel College, commented: “The proposal from the Säid Business School to give a Distinction of Honor for African Growth Award to Paul Kagame cannot fall under the criticism of endorsing human rights violations per se because it is making an economic assessment only.
“In this way, the decision errs on the side of a greater tragedy. It is a categorical statement that, in Africa, economics should matter more than society and ethics, and that those who have been accused of brutalising regions through natural resource greed should be decorated as economic leaders.”
The conference website has ignored the controversies surrounding Kagame, and instead focused on some of the successes of his presidency, including the reconciliation after the Rwandan genocide and relatively strong growth in GDP.
As a result they have feted that Kagame’s presidency has “set Rwanda on its current course towards reconciliation, nation building and socioeconomic development.”
A letter delivered to the Säid Business School the campaign has argued: “Mr. Kagame’s Rwanda bears several disturbing similarities to Rwanda under the genocidal government.
“Reconciliation appears superficial: despite a law prohibiting speech with ethnic content – known as genocide ideology – the ethnic tensions that fuelled genocide in 1994 seem alive beneath the surface.”
Amongst the supporters of the campaign are a number of academics and students. One academic said that is “concerning” that the conference organisers have invited Kagame to the Säid Business School given the ongoing dispute concerning his human rights record in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide.
Mr. Kagame took office in 2000, after spending six years as Vice President in the years immediately after the Rwandan genocide, before winning democratic elections for the presidency in 2003 and 2010.
Source: The Oxford Student
Government of Rwanda (Kigali), 18 FEBRUARY 2013
President Kagame visit to President Sassou Nguesso’s hometown of Oyo marked his third visit to the Republic of Congo since 2004.
This visit takes place only two months following President Sassou Nguesso visit to Rwanda during which the two heads of state discussed bilateral and regional issues including the crisis in DRC and the need to continue supporting the ongoing regional peace process.
Bilateral relations between Rwanda and the Republic of Congo have grown in recent years and now include economic and trade partnerships of Rwandan and Congolese businesses facilitated by twice weekly flights of the national carrier Rwandair between Kigali and Brazzaville:
“This visit builds on a good relationship. We have good relationships with my brother President Sassou Nguesso and Rwanda has a good relationship with Congo,” President Kagame said.
On the issue of peace and security, President Kagame told the press:
“Peace alone does not lead to development, in peace you have to have policies that help deliver that development. We are talking about creating an environment of security and peace that can lead to prosperity for the people of Africa.”
The two day visit included private talks between the two heads of state, a tour of President Sassou N’Guesso’s farm and a visit to the President’s family cemetery where President Kagame paid his respect to President Sassou Nguesso late daughter Edith Lucie Bongo Ondimba.The visit ended with a lunch at the President’s private club in Ngolodoua.
President Paul Kagame has described the relationship between Rwanda and the Republic of Congo as good. read more…
This friday, President Kagame assisted two important events in Rwanda. First he addressed the Unity Club Consultative Forum which was held at Parliament then later that evening he officiated the opening of Gorillas Golf Hotel – a chain of hotels established ten years ago.
President Kagame thanked members of the Unity Club and other Rwandans who have dedicated their time to promote unity and reconciliation in the Rwandan society. President Kagame said the interests of Rwandans are the same, although means used to achieve objectives may be different:
“When people are united, no challenge is insurmountable. Our unity is our strength. Unity does not necessarily mean that people have the same line of thinking; it means people have the same interests and priorities for their country. Unity is rock solid and harnesses national values and identity which drive the progress of any nation. People without identity and values are bound to fail.”
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“When the world acknowledges that there is a problem and acts to resolve it, the outcome is impressive…For African countries to develop and their people enjoy a decent standard of living, we need to address the imbalances of energy between the developed and developing countries, and raise the level of consumption and utilisation.”
President Kagame addresses World Energy Forum 2012 in Dubai- UAE, 22 October 2012
President Paul Kagame yesterday received the African Peace Personality award 2012, which he won after an online voting by African students/youth across the continent.
President Kagame with the delegation from Nigeria after they handed to him the Africa Peace Personality award 2012, at Village Urugwiro, yesterday. The New Times/Village Urugwiro.
The accolade was presented to the Head of State by the reigning Miss University queen of Africa, Rorisang Molefe, during an event held at Village Urugwiro.
The 18-year old Lesotho beauty was accompanied by a group of seven prominent Nigerian personalities, Joseph Habineza, Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, and Protais Mitali, Minister of Youth and Culture.
Kagame was shortlisted for the prestigious award alongside three nominees who included presidents, Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and Olesugun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria.
The voting process which was done via Miss University Africa website and lasted for 41 days saw President Kagame win with 817,201 votes.
The Head of State was recognized for his ingenuity and style of leadership to unite the people of Rwanda and seek peaceful means to stabilise the country after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
Kagame got the highest number of votes from Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria.
Speaking to journalists shortly after presenting the award to the President, the continental beauty queen said: “We presented the award to President Kagame, because we the youth recognised him for the efforts he put in towards healing Rwanda after the Genocide.”
“We were at the Kigali Genocide Memorial and we were told about the genocide, it was really touching and painful to know what really happened here 18 years ago and it’s also surprising how quickly the country has developed, healed and stood up”.
Molefe stated that President Kagame emerged winner because of the good leadership that has spearheaded Rwanda’s recovery and development.
“After receiving the award, you could see he was really touched and humbled. He is a gentle and down to earth President and I was privileged to present it to him,” she observed.
The delegation was led by Yemisi Dooshima Suswam, the First Lady of the Nigeria State of Benue.
“The award is unique because it’s the voice of Africa. It recognized President Kagame’s efforts in maintaining peace and bringing reconciliation process in the country which has resulted in this development strategy that the world is witnessing in Rwanda today,” Suswam said.
According to Habineza, the delegation from Nigeria was very pleased to interact with President Kagame.
“The Head of State had a wide range of discussions with them regarding Rwanda’s recovery process and encouraged the young people to be responsible leaders and never be ridden like horses, but should be the horse riders,”
Habineza told journalists after the delegation met the President.
Former recipients of the award include the late Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wangari Maathai of Kenya, and Presidents Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone and as well as Dr. Yahya A J J Jammeh of Gambia.
President Paul Kagame is in Hong Kong where he will be hosted today by the city’s chapter of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and meet, on Monday, with members of the Hong Kong business community.
President Kagame will then attend the World Economic Forum’s sixth Annual Meeting of the New Champions (also known as the Summer Davos) taking place in Tianjin, China from September11 to 13. President Kagame will speak on two panels; Competitiveness Champions and Africa’s Future Economy.
In Tianjin, President Kagame is expected to meet with Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao and will end his visit to China with a key note address at the Peking University in Beijing.
Introduced in 2007, the Annual Meeting of the New Champions has become the foremost global business gathering in Asia. Over 1,500 business, government and civil society leaders from 90 countries have annually participated in the three-day Meeting. The first Meeting was held at a critical time as the world sought new ways to move forward from the global economic crisis. The Meeting focuses on the response of the new generation of fast-emerging multinational companies to the current economic challenges and future opportunities.
The Annual Meeting of the New Champions provides a platform for the rising generation of global leaders from business and society to contribute to broader policy discussions and engage with the world’s top business executives. The New Champions are led by the Forum’s growing Global Growth Companies Community as well as the communities of Technology Pioneers, Young Global Leaders and Young Scientists.
Kagame in Singapoore, May 2008
“From Crisis to Socioeconomic Development”