Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gender and Politics: Rwanda has reached a level of sophistication unparalleled in Africa

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On Sunday 4th November 2012, Gladys Campuhijsen wrote on her blog Collect moments…Not things an article with this title: Women to rule Rwanda.

This is objectively a bold statement for those who know how Rwandan politics work under the Rwandan Patriotic Front regime.

In her post the author highlights incontestable facts about the plight of Rwandan women during and after the genocide of 1994.


On a positive note she however indicates:
“…nowadays (or actually since 2008) Women rule Rwanda! Rwanda is the first country in the world where women outnumber men in the parliament.”

She explains that her article was triggered by what she read in One World magazine where it is said that Rwanda was the only country in the world where more than half of the government consists of women.

The same day Gladys published her post on her blog, she also twitted:
“Women are ruling Rwanda. What can we learn? Coming from a horrible history, these women are making a difference.”

Are they really? I was not even aware that she had written an article in the same tone.

I twitted back asking her:
“Are you referring to that % of Rwandan women parliamentarians? They don’t rule, but they rub stamp Paul Kagame’s decisions.”

Gladys replied:
“Yes, sure. It’s just impressive and modern, looking at other western countries. Am I wrong?”

On one side, this appears a striking example of RPF’s power of deception.

In her writing, Gladys fell in the net placed by the Rwandan government’s intended objective of fooling the ignorant public, because as One World magazine [and probably many other media] did and carry on doing on that specific subject, she too started showing her amazement about the enviable situation of women in Rwanda.

Evidently, in Gladys’ understanding, when she writes or reads the concept of parliament, she only has in mind western references for such institution, whereas in many developing countries, especially in Rwanda, it is only the name that such structure comes close to its western counterpart.

Members of the Rwandan parliament are affiliated in one way or another to the regime and pledge allegiance to work together with the president’s ruling party for citizens’ interests.

On the other side, Gladys’ understanding of the meaning of the Rwandan women majority in parliament demonstrates the shrewdness of the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s regime.

It makes western democracies not looking even up to Rwandan standards because they cannot have as many women in parliament as it does, this despite the opposing picture of the real situation on the ground.

Gladys had asked if she was wrong in her understanding.

I twitted saying:
“Yes you are right on the good looking [and modern picture] aspect. But nothing more. It’s a facade of empowerment which is very misleading.”

I added:
“Sorry. You are wrong. Women in the Rwandan parliament are there to fool the world about Rwandan [women] empowerment in the country.”

Gladys challenged me to write an article about my strong view against hers on the issue. She promised to publish it.

I found her demand initially difficult to respond to. I agreed with her that I would write something.
But I needed some help. I knew that what I was saying was empirically right but where to get the facts to back it up was the question.

I resorted to asking friends on facebook.

Luckily one of them replied and sent me an article that had been written in French with this title, “Le genre et la politique à la FPR: De l’hypocrisie sadique.” I had only to translate the text in English.

What do we learn from this story about Rwanda being promoted by RPF as the champion in the world in terms of number of women in parliament?

One significant single lesson is that the Rwandan Patriotic Front of President Paul Kagame has been deceiving the international community and persists in doing so.

The Rwandan regime wants to portray itself as a democracy, even more democratic than traditional western ones, because it can boost having a majority of women in its parliament.

But most of us know well how the Rwandan president’s rule has been the most ruthless dictatorial and criminal political leadership Africa has ever seen.

Let’s imagine these Rwandan parliamentarian women with a fraction of decision-making in national policies. Would they for example authorise their government to wage wars persistently in the Democratic Republic of Congo knowing well that women and children are the ones who become mainly the victims?

It’s Philip Gourevitch who wrote in the New York Times on January 8th, 2010 that Rwanda had reached a level of sophistication never seen on the African continent.
At the time, the journalist/ writer was referring to the confection of the Mutsinzi report by the RPF regime, about the assassination of former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana.

The NYT journalist explains:
“… the report on Habyarimana’s plane is the latest in a yearlong string of diplomatic and political moves that show the new Rwandan government achieving a level of sophistication, skill, and effectiveness in commanding international respect that has rarely, if ever, been seen before in Africa. “

And such sophistication, or call it deceit, is widely applied in all Rwandan policies that govern the country. That is what those who are familiar with Paul Kagame’s ways of ruling call his style, a leadership by deception.

The latest to confirm the entire point of this article is that as I was preparing to share it on facebook,

Congolese activist Kambale Musavuli had indicated this about the ongoing crisis in Eastern Congo.
“Rwanda has closed its border from Congo to Rwanda but is opened from Rwanda to Congo. Rwanda says it does not recognise M23 government.”
What a despicable shrewdness!

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