KIGALI AND ITS UNWEPT, UNHONORED AND UNSUNG DISSIDENTS.
When the Rwandese president landed in Kenya this past week as one of the keynote speakers at the governors’ conference; I doubt he had anticipated that Kenyan journalists would be lurking in the bushes, waiting to bombard him with hard questions about his recently deceased former head of external intelligence, Patrick Karegeya.
Ask they did; from why the defectors from Rwanda government who are exiled seem to die in mysterious circumstances; to his recent comment about traitors facing consequences of their betrayal; to the death of Karegeya at a top hotel in South Africa where he was in exile since 2007 after he fell out with president Kagame.
What is more? Being the journalists they are, they tried to connect the dots with a close friend of the deceased, Lt. General Faustine Nyamwasa, another defector who also sought asylum in South Africa and was a target of an assassins’’ bullet in 2010 that strained the relationship between the two countries.
A couple of weeks back, at a prayer breakfast on January 12th, president Kagame is reported to have said that ‘you cannot betray Rwanda and get away with it; there are consequences to treason acts’. He is even quoted as having said that the government had a right to pursue whoever betrayed the country.He further told his officials not to waste time denying the position since other countries had done ‘worse things in their own defence’.
This is particularly disturbing, considering that the said ‘traitors’ could simply be concerned citizens who are challenging the sitting governments’ views and its leadership styles.
Isn’t that supposed to be a healthy thing for any country and does this mean that the Kigali man cannot stand criticism”?
Rwanda’s Abandoned Properties and their ‘Consequences’?
In what seems to be a suspiciously premeditated extension of ‘consequences to the so-called Rwandese traitors and dissenters, the Rwandese government is in the process of amending its law on abandoned properties.
The current abandoned properties law was enacted in 2004 and it facilitates government takeover of buildings owned by genocide victims and perpetrators. Moreover, it was restricted to assets of owners who might have died and left no next of kin.
The amendment, if approved by parliament will allow the government to take control of all assets whose owners have fled the country for various reasons. (Very suspicious considering the huge number of defectors, right?).
In hindsight, last year September, the Rwandese government took control of Kigali’s oldest shopping mall, The Union Trade Center which is valued at 20 million dollars and is owned by an exiled citizen Rujugiro Ayabatwa who is in South Africa.
Now, to say that the government is acting in public interest because such abandoned property may pose security threats reminds me of the ‘other’ recent security risk; President Zuma’s renovated property being off limits to journalists’ camera’s because taking a pic of the renovated chicken house amounted to posing a security risk ‘to the chicken I guess’.
In other news, two opposition political parties Parti Sociale (PS) and (RDR) have formed a coalition with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
The Kigali government has however dismissed the coalition saying it will not recognize anybody associated with a terrorist organization. FLDR was blacklisted in 2005 by USA as a terrorist group.
The FLDR claim they are willing to disarm if the international community puts pressure on the Kigali government to open up political space and guarantee freedom of association and expression in Rwanda
Predictably, the Kigali government has responded by issuing a warning that whoever is working with the FDLR is likely to face…. you guessed it! ‘major consequences’
If you think the said ‘consequences are a joke, please know that Mr. Karegeya cannot be buried in Rwanda and thus sadly fulfilling the prophecy of the English poet sir. Walter Scott in his poem ‘BREATHES THERE THE MAN’.
It goes something like this:
‘High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim,
Despite those titles, power and pelf,
The wretch, concentrated all in self,
Living , shall forfeit fair renown,
And double dying shall go down,
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored and unsung’.