Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reasons for Not Having Elections in Rwanda.

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A recent picture of President Paul Kagame checking on his troops. There are several reports indicating a major power struggle within the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA).
As the crackdown on dissidents tightens, The New Times continues to peddle lies as usual. This time, the government's tabloid tells us that 15% of Rwandans have access to electricity while 75% has access to water. Since the national Newspaper did not bother to tell us when and how this was done merely stating that a plant was built to serve Kigali’s suburbs. I am left to conclude that walking tens of miles to fetch water in faraway ponds and rivers counts as access.  For sure, 97% of Rwandans (the majority of voters) do not live in Kigali. Yet, the  RPF considers this is another reason why Rwandans will vote for Paul Kagame.
Reason to Vote for Kagame
Yesterday, Richard Grant wrote a piece that was a little critical of Kagame but in a broad sense meant to legitimize his cruelty. Apparently, according to this logic, as long as plastic bags are banned, beggars and homeless people expunged and Kigali is abuzz with skyscrapers; freedom and democracy are unimportant.

The author informs us that, this is Kagame’s dogma and that he is surprisingly cheered on by a prominent squad from the West which includes, “Blair, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and the CEOs of Google and Starbucks.”
Me wonders whether the average Rwandan cares or even knows who Bill Gates, Bill Clinton et al are. Consider this fact: 9 out 0f 10 Rwandans are rural peasants.

Since these individuals do not live in Rwanda, should the Rwandan peasants care about their association with Paul Kagame?. There is a saying in kinyarwanda that only the individual wearing a shoe knows how comfortable it is. The rest can only speculate.
Rwandans not Stupid.
When tasked about the latest killings of activists, the minister for foreign affairs (who I’m told is being touted for a posh UN position), replied by stating that:
"We certainly might not be a model government for a lot of people, but we're not a stupid government, and we will not try to kill three people in a row right before election - an election in which we believe strongly that President Paul Kagame would win,"

Even is this were true, one wonders whether there is any smart way to kill innocent people?
Well, my answer is simple. We are not a stupid population!
Rwandans from all walks of life are aware of the elite manipulations, in process. The exploitation and oppression is only radicalizing the populace.  You cannot blatantly hijack the democratic process by arbitrarily denying the opportunity for people to decide their own destiny through the ballot. Those who have done so have certainly failed. The fact that Rwandans are dead silent and afraid, should serve as a warning to the ruling class. Unfortunately, as the Rwanda saying goes, “the ear that carries death does not hear”.

A way out
Instead, Mr. Kagame should suspend the elections and declare himself an automatic president. He should go ahead to invite his parade of influential friends to attend his coronation (swearing-in) ceremony. Since Rwandans will not protest (at least for now),he can convince the international community that he has done so, in the interest of Rwandans,  so as to maximize his time doing development projects.  After all hasn't he told the world that Rwandans do not need democracy but “food on their table”. So, why the elections?
Another reason to avoid this menace that is an election  is the high cost involved. In a single day, the RPF has surprised us by (over)spending $2 million at the launch of Kagame’s Presidential campaign. Millions more will be spend (mostly in China) printing T-shirts, posters, and of course, bribing. But, perhaps this is a drop in the ocean,  since the RPF claims to be the richest party in Africa--richer than Rwanda--with over $40 billion in investements.
The last reason to suspend the elections would be to avoid the confrontation with opposition activists. My Rwandan sources just informed me that the government has severed its crackdown on dissidents. They are going into people homes and picking the wrong guys.  The New Times reported on it claiming that PS Imberakuri officials had been  “arrested for attempting to break-into an office building.” However, the image might not rhyme well with even with the RPF cheering squad (Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, and Rick Warren).
In the end we ask ourselves a rhetorical question. Why do dictators all over the world love elections? And why are they always confident of sweeping victory?

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