Open letter to President Paul Kagame over the third term

President Paul Kagame casting his vote in last month's referendum

President Paul Kagame casting his vote in last month’s referendum

Dear Mr. President, you do not know me well but I have been an RPF follower and your passionate fan for more than two decades. I know all your enviable career attributes, including the no-nonsense attitude both in NRA/M and RPA/F when you assumed the overall command at the time of need.

You have championed the defense of the two most fundamental and inalienable rights for Rwandans; the right to citizenship and the right to life. That was done when both pre-genocide and post-genocide refugees were voluntarily returned home and the Rwandese refugee chapter closed recently, while the archaic death penalty section was deleted from the country’s penal code under you stewardship.

Mr. President, whoever cares; Rwandans or non-Rwandans, your fans or your biased critics know how senior RPF cadres under your guidance, in partnership with other peace-loving political actors designed a national unity and reconciliation agenda to meet the post-genocide of 1994 against Tutsi challenges hands-on.

Among those was re-introduction of the famous traditional Gacaca justice system throughout the country, where hundreds of thousands of case backlogs involving millions of Rwandan genocide suspects were expeditiously and diligently tried, convicted or acquitted in less than ten years. How long would it have taken through the conventional justice system? Isn’t justice delayed justice denied?

You have done wonders Mr. President! Under you stewardship, home grown solutions to Rwanda’s unique challenges have been initiated and implemented at very lower cost than the cost of those same projects in other countries.

For instance your government has access the most excellent subsidized health insurance services to all Rwandan citizens and foreigners resident in the country. And millions of vulnerable peasants have survived poverty through anti-malnutrition programs, Like Girinka and Ubudehe communal development initiative.

And, as a matter of fact, Mr. President, in your vision, security is the fulcrum of both human development and doing business. The realization of both human development and the ease of doing business are fundamentally contingent upon security.

And that is why when you became the Head of State, an efficient Rwanda national police was instituted, corruption whistle blowers like Ombudsman’s office, the judicial arm of the state overhauled and other strong governance institutions such as Auditor general’s office, Rwanda Governance Board to mention but a few.

Mr. President, the list is endless and no wonder, despite the horrific event of 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, the tiny poor country has repeatedly emerged as one of the most progressive countries in the world ranking in Doing Business Report (DBR) by the World Bank as 62nd in the world, the second in Africa.

Haven’t renowned global governance and corruption watchdogs like Transparency International, and Global Integrity ranked your country over time as the least corrupt nation on the continent? Or didn’t the World Economic Forum rank your government the 7th most efficient in the world just a month ago? The list of accolades is endless.

And indeed Mr. President, history shows that great countries the world over have been built on foundations of strong leaders like you, whose style of management creates a culture that defines the country; such as US’s Abraham Lincoln, Britain’s Winston Churchill, Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, India’s Manhattan Gandhi and South Africa’s Nelson Mandela.

However, Mr. President, renowned philosophers have contended that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Remember, you are the first and last to occupy dockets of Vice President and Defense for six years concurrently.

You have been Rwanda’s Head of State since February 2000. When you were sworn-in in 2010, you are on record assuring Rwandans that you will never amend the fundamental law for third a term! Mr. President, you have always been true to your word until December 31 when you contradicted yourself and accepted to run for a third round.

We know how that ‘project’ started Mr. President. It’s the senior RPF cadres and elite direct beneficiary accomplices from political parties’ forum who persuaded the unsuspecting 3.7 million rural peasants and guided them to enlist and append signatures to the famous parliamentary petition for the sub-sequential approval and the final referendum elections.

Or weren’t some senior personalities in your government including two senior cabinet members sacked for being quoted in the media emphasizing what you personally promised the nation?

And ironically, you are again, the first and will perhaps be the last to serve the three seven-year terms, for according to the constitutional amendment, the seven year terms have been reduced to five year term.

Be it as it may, Mr. President, you still have more enviable accolades to you name if you want. And I, like millions of Rwandan compatriots, who love you, have not a flicker of doubt, that your ever present pleasure in serving Rwandans will put perfection in such endeavors.

Remember, Mr. President, it’s shameful that ever since our beloved Rwanda descended the colonial flag and rose the national flag, no incumbent president has ever witnessed a free, fair and transparent presidential elections, lost or retired peacefully.

If your predecessor, Mr. Pasteur Bizimungu hadn’t made the suicidal, emotional and uncalculated move to divert from RPF governance vision and mission, he would be a respected and retired statesman, enjoying the retirement benefits envisaged under the Rwandan constitution.

The almighty God willing, Mr. President, you ought to prioritize your remaining term in office, mentor some promising cadres whose feet will fit in your large shoes upon your honourable retirement. Then and only then will you have excellently accomplished your enviable mission.

Finally but most importantly, Mr. President, Kindly take this narrative piece light-heartedly, for it was neither out of malice or hatred that I crafted it. On the contrary, I have been inspired by the love and envy for you and beloved Rwanda. I strongly believe you will be a legendary model statesman for the present and future generation.

The author is a trained lawyer, career media practitioner and social science researcher based in Kigali. He was a Runner-up to Rwanda’s Investigative Journalist of Year 2006 award and a member to the Forum for Africa Investigative Reporters (FAIR. He can be reached at e-mail:igihesilver@gmail.com