By Eleneus Akanga
President Paul Kagame today took the stand to proclaim his oath and willingness to lead Rwanda but if events of yesteryear and weeks gone by are to be taken into perception, he is a man who despite the massive turn out, will need alot of prayers.
Pastor Rick Warren, the American Evangelist and a close friend of Kagame was there to usher in a new era. An era of prayer. Paul Kagame’s supporters want to believe that the whole world is against them just like it supports them. It is a conundrum that Rwanda’s iron man finds himself in. A very powerful source in government said to me this morning that Kagame and almost all his supporters around the world are yet to understand why the coin has suddenly flipped and why the great coverage that their leader has so often enjoyed, seem to be ebbing.
There is a story going on in Rwanda that had it not been for the leaked UN report alleging complicity by the Rwandan army in crimes against humanity and a possible genocide committed in the Congo, President Kagame would have loved to see his swearing in postponed to Sept 12, given that this was the same time he took his last oath, some seven years ago.
Things have been rushed, and while there may be an issue of a constitutional challenge to the legality of this swearing in ceremony, it is believed Kagame’s friends in the US wanted this done with as soon as. Rick Warren, the maverick pastor from America who Kigali wanted to start a prayer era was also in doubt of attendance if the swearing in had been pushed to Sept 12, as this is a day after the US commemorates the Sept 11 attack on the twin towers – and a commemoration Pr. Warren never wanted to miss.
Rwanda is going through a stern test. For years, President Kagame has enjoyed a soft landing from all corners of the world, including members of the worlds leading media. Today, this view has changed, his style of leadership has come under heavy scrutiny. People are even questioning his integrity. His attempts to silence critics has not paid off either. Not even his idea to employ the services of leading PR agency has been effective. And when everything is not working, God is the last resort. But to get to God, you need a strong conviction, a conviction that you are innocent, clean and free or at least void of cardinal sins.
The decision by Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete to send delegations to this swearing-in ceremony when they as members of the East African Community to which Rwanda belongs – should have attended, will also raise a few suspicions. Why, some people may ask? Jakaya and Museveni have issues of their own. Presidential elections in Uganda are coming soon and Mr. Museveni has got to be careful who he hops around with. He would have considered this a not so smart move given the flak that Kagame has received in recent months. Who wants to associate themselves with a man whose popularity is dwindling anyway?
But what of Jakaya? Tanzania, remember remains the only country in the region, to have produced a visionary leader -one of Africa’s greatest statesmen, Julius Kambalage Nyerere. There was a time when as Kagame enjoyed a free ride with the world’s media, some sections had started mounting the suggestion that he was a statesman, in the same ranks as Mwalimu Nyerere, Osajefo Kwame Nkrumah and at one time on facebook, Madiba Nelson Mandela. Jakaya is aware of this. He is also aware that the charm himself and his country have previously enjoyed from the US is dwindling and he sees Kagame and Rwanda as his definite substitutes given the latter’s proximity to the Democratic Republic of Congo. He would be playing silly, not to act carefully.
The good news to Rwanda is that at least DRCs Joseph Kabila turned up. Notice too that it was President Kabila who received the most rapturous welcome as he made his way into the stadium. Yes, thunderous if you may. A perfect statement to the watching and listening world that Kigali still enjoys great relations with Kinshasha and that the recent reports about a report linking Kigali to atrocities in Congo has not done any damage to this “special relationship”.
Kagame has never shied away from giving a proper fight. Already his government has threatened the UN that they will withdraw troops from any where in the world that they are deployed should the organisation go ahead and publish the leaked report. Blackmail you may say, yes but not to Kagame. Already, the trick is working, the Un has said they wont be publishing the report until after this month to give the countries involved some time to mount a defence? Plausible? Well, somehow logical but why would you want to warn someone about a report that is meant to detail what happened, if you know that what is contained in the report is true? Principle of natural justice perhaps.
Anyway, President Kagame is now a full head of state for another cool seven years. He has much to do and there certainly is much to come. It is good he has the services of Pastor Warren at his disposal. He will need these men of God or “prophets of capitalism” depending on how you want to call them. Rwanda needs prayers, thinks Kagame. Not at all, Rwanda needs reforms claims his critics. Whatever the case, President Kagame now realises that the time is now for a change in the way he has always conducted his business and he will need some deeper reforms if he is to regain the good man status that he for so many years enjoyed.