Speaking shortly after being elected Patriotic Front Party (RPF) presidential candidate in 2017, Rwanda strongman Paul Kagame assured party members and Rwandans in general that he will double his efforts so that he reduces the factors that compelled party members to ask him to continue to stay.
‘’We must work harder so that what made you ask me to stay longer can be addressed in these seven years[2017-2024]’’ he said.
He added: Here is the deal: we have to do things differently, work harder so that the 7 years coming give us some kind of transition. … I will give you my all.’’
In an interview with the state owned newspaper The New Times, Rwanda strongman said ‘‘I am known for not giving people false promises. I am not the type to give Rwandans illusions and false promises. I’m a realist, not a populist…. I do not promise anything that I cannot fulfil.’’
December 2019: while responding to a question at a meeting in Doha about whether he will run for office again, Bloomberg quotes Mr. Kagame as saying: “Most likely No.’’
‘’I want to have some breathing space but given how things are and how they have been in the past, I have made up my mind where I am personally concerned, that it is not going to happen next time.”
He said it would be a mark of failure if he did not find a suitable replacement before the end of his mandate expires in seven years’ time-(2024).
“That (failing to find a successor) would be my failure and not yours. And it would not be a reason to seek a third mandate,” he said.
In a 2015 constitutional referendum, Rwandans voted overwhelmingly to allow Kagame to stand again for office beyond the end of his second mandate, which ended in 2017. Kagame won the 2017 elections, with nearly 99% of the vote. In theory, he could run twice again, keeping him in power until 2034 — although his current term ends in 2024.
With two years left to end of his term [it should be noted that constitution changes gave him two more terms] the question that many are asking is whether he will go home in 2024 as he promised in 2017.
Political analysts speak out
A Kampala based analysts with interests and friends In the East African tiny nation thinks it will be a big mistake for Mr. Kagame to quit now.
‘’Liberal democracy is a disaster to Africa. We need honest and developmental leaders like Kagame not term limits.The constitution should not be used to limit presidents who have talents.”’’ he says.
He adds: A development stage is not easy to manage. We have few leaders who can manage such a stage.
He maintains that Kagame has made many wonderful things for the once forgotten country. ‘’They still need him around before he can handover. ‘’ he says.
Others also think Rwanda lacks the economic base of Chinese and Indian communities. Unlike some of its neighbours, Rwanda has few natural resources,
‘’Kagame is still the biggest asset the country has In terms of attracting investments and his personal marketing of the country. Many investors have gone to Rwanda because of him. If he left today, the future is unknown’’ says another analyst.’’
Numbers don’t lie
Under Kagame, Kigali has had the diplomatic ability to broker transactional deals with other African countries.
The country’s bilateral deployment in the Central Africa republic resulted from a military cooperation agreement signed in 2019 between Kigali and Bangui. A series of economic partnership agreements complement this security cooperation.
The DRC President Félix Tshisekedi and Kagame signed an agreement on the common exploitation of gold in June 2021. Rwanda has also increased cooperation with fellow African states.
To diversify the economy and increase its self-sufficiency, Kagame administration mobilized its main assets – military professionalism, political stability, and ‘brand Rwanda’ – to benefit its foreign policy. Both the CAR and Mozambique deployments should be seen as military diplomacy supporting economic ambitions that nurture the country’s soft power.
He is creating high end products with Qatar airways and turning Rwanda into a regional hub. He is also credited for turning Rwanda into a high end tourism place.
A competent head of state- A shining light for all of Africa?
Rwanda, one of the smallest countries on the African continent, is known beyond the borders for its stringent and effective policies
‘’And unlike many African states, the country’s brand is associated with effectiveness in security matters and the management of public affairs. Even if international perceptions of Rwanda are polarised, Kagame is regarded throughout Africa as a competent head of state.’’ Says political analyst Paul-Simon Handy
He adds: This perception has helped increase the number of positions Rwanda has filled in various international organisations. Former foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo was elected secretary-general of the Francophonie. Former National Bank of Rwanda deputy governor Monique Nsanzabaganwa was elected deputy chairperson of the African Union Commission, tasked with improving the implementation of the organisation’s reform.
It’s no coincidence that the first “Made in Africa” smartphone came from Rwanda: The Mara Phone is manufactured in an industrial area in the capital Kigali, just down the road from a Volkswagen plant. The German carmaker is one of many investors in the small East African country, where VW offers an e-mobility service and bolts cars together for the African market.
Rwanda: the model to defeat corruption
Kagame has virtually eradicated major corruption. Today, Rwanda ranks on par with the Czech Republic and better than Italy and Greece. Says political analyst Michael Rubin
There has been no country that has achieved more stark success, than the site of an anti-Tutsi genocide in 1994.
Whereas, Singapore inherited good governance models from British colonial authorities, Rwanda did not. In November 1997, Rwanda established a National Tender Board to replace a contract-award system rife with corruption.
The Rwanda Public Procurement Authority replaced this board in order to further decentralize and make the contracting process more independent. The Rwanda Revenue Authority reformed tax collection and to end privileges which politicians, prominent businessmen, and senior military officers had previously enjoyed. The Bureau of the Auditor General followed quickly, charged with uprooting corruption in state-owned entities. Almost immediately, it moved six thousand ghost employees off the public payroll and removed an equal number of unqualified employees.
High-profile corruption prosecutions demonstrated that Kagame is serious.
Political analyst Gatete Nyiringabo Ruhumuliza observes that ‘ ‘ Rwandan mothers receive ante and post-natal healthcare and maternal mortality ratios in the country decreased by 77 percent between 2000 and 2013. Newborns are vaccinated. The city is clean and people can walk safely at night’’
Where he has failed
Even the good dancer leaves the stage, goes an old saying
Critics say, Rwanda which was not long ago a symbol of rebirth and hope has been mismanaged by the man who has ruled the tiny east African nation for over 20 years through fear.
Analysts claim Rwanda’s development success in the past 25 years is due mostly to foreign aid. The fragility of this showed in 2012 when some donors suspended cooperation following accusations that Rwanda had supported the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s rebel movement- M23
For majority over of the 70 percent of the Rwandan population, the over 70 percent of the Rwandan population, what some call the “Kagame Generation”: finding a job is a nightmare . The unemployment rate still at 16.7 percent and the youth unemployment rate 21 percent. Something is not right.
Animosity with neighours, internal politics:
Human-rights groups and government agencies say the regime rules with autocratic fierceness, allegedly torturing, imprisoning and killing opponents at home and abroad. David Himbara, the former economic advisor to President Kagame turned critic calls it “totalitarian.”
A long list of high-profile dissidents have died violently or disappeared under mysterious circumstances, leading to allegations, denied by the Kagame administration that they were assassinated.
Kagame himself has, at times, unashamedly commented on such allegations, as in the case of former secret service chief and dissident Patrick Karageya, who was strangled to death at a hotel room in South Africa: “Rwanda did not kill this person. But I wish Rwanda had done it,” Kagame said.
“Rwanda wants to control every aspect of Rwandans’ lives, not only inside Rwanda but outside,” the Torontonian charges. It wants total control of everyday life.” Says Himbara
On a whole, there is a general feeling Rwanda rests on Mr. Kagame. His supporters say if he quits, the result would be unknown.
The first Rwanda woman president?
Analysts say, Rwanda strongman trusts women. Women have played a key role in his administration. One such is Clare Akamanzi who has served as the chief executive officer of the Rwanda Development Board, since 4 February 2017. The Harvard Kennedy School MPA alum & also a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum was named one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women by Forbes in 2020.
The Makerere University graduate is credited for coming up with lucrative deal with Arsenal and PSG, which has helped promote Rwanda brand
Since 2003 Rwanda has consistently had the highest female representation, proportionally, of parliamentarians in the world—currently 61 percent in the lower house. Four of the nation’s seven Supreme Court justices are women, including the deputy chief justice
On leaning towards women, some analysts say Kagame is trying to create just society modelled to the scandavian model
Independent political analyst are concerned that Kagame has not groomed a successor, and this could a strategy for Kagame to extend his rule under the disguise of there is no capable person to take over from him.
Dissident Himbara believes Kagame wants to stay in power “preferably until death.”
President’s advisor Jean-Paul Kimonyo denies this, but points out how popular the president is.
” in Rwanda, a possible extension of our President’s term of office is not an issue,” Kimonyo told DW in an interview. “We want more prosperity and we need strong leadership for this. And Rwandans are currently very satisfied with their leadership.
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