Monday, 26 January 2015

Monday, 17 November 2014

The problem in Rwanda is not President Paul Kagame - the problem is us Rwandans

Let us revisit Joseph de Maistre's famous statement that "Every country has the government it deserves (Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite") written way back on 15 August 1811.
Rwandans inside and outside Rwanda must accept that we get regimes we deserve.
You may say that you had nothing to do with bringing the current one to power, and that therefore you don't deserve it. But the Rwandan character of conformity, blind obedience, and fear of authority is the mother of the problem.
As we all know conformity in Rwandan culture runs very deep. In Rwandan history, from Rwabugiri era, Kanjogera, Musinga, Rudahingwa, Kayibanda, Habyarimana, and Kagame, every Rwandan obeys powerholders as if they were gods. Rwandan people worship, obey, and fear power than even our cousins next door in Burundi if you realize how they dare debate issues that are taboo in Rwanda.

By coincidence there were recently demonstrations in Rwanda and Burkina Faso.

In the Rwandan demonstrations, Kagame regime simply rounded people, and like zombies, they matched on the streets to denounce a BBC documentary they probably had not even watched.
In Burkina Faso, citizens stopped a regime to carry out a constitutional coup d'etat by changing the constitution that would have allowed a dictator to hold onto power.

Meanwhile Rwandans, even those overseas, are hiding under their beds fearful of the dictatorship in their homeland hoping and waiting for a miracle to end the regime in Kigali.
And you wonder why nations get rulers they deserve! All of us look in the mirror and whisper to yourself what you see.......

Source: David Himbara

President Paul Kagame's mirage railway in back - surprise!

11 Nov 2014

Kagame says his global-trotting between 18 August and 7 November that begun with Rwanda Day in Atlanta, USA and ended in New Delhi is about mobilizing resources. For nearly three months? He has now claimed that top of his agenda is to bring railways to Rwanda - that is what he is hunting for in his global travels.
But hold is important to draw lessons from Kagame's history on the mirage rail in Rwanda before prematurely celebrating that he is looking for resources to build it by 2018.
Here is the gentleman's record:
* Early 2000s, President Paul Kagame moots the idea of building a rail line linking Rwanda to the Tanzanian rail network to the Indian Ocean port of Dar es Salaam; He sees Burundi as part of the plan;
* 2005-2006 – Kagame persuades the African Development Bank (AfDB) to co-finance the survey of the rail route that would link Isaka, Tanzania to Kigali/Bujumbura; AfDB was to have covered 90%, with Rwanda and Tanzania covering 10%;
* 2007 – a leading American rail builder and operator, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), is recruited by the Rwandan President to assess the viability of the project;
* 2008 – United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) funds early investment analysis on a proposed upgrade to the Dar es Salaam to Isaka Railway; BNSF conducts an investment analysis;…/Sub…/Tanzania/TanzaniaRail_111908.asp

* 2008 - President Kikwete announces that construction of the railway would begin in 2008, supported by BNSF;

* 2009 – Kagame government confirms that not only is BNSF’s design of the rail already advanced, potential inventors to finance the project were already found.
* 2010-2011– The rail is forgotten;
* 2013 - Kagame announces he will hit Kikwete at the right time;
2014 - Presidents Kenyatta, Museveni and Kagame announce the Kigali-Kampala-Mombasa rail - Kikwete dumped.
Here we are in 2014, and President Kagame is claiming that among the reasons he is global-trotting is to find money to build a railway! Would he find rail builders/investors in Altanta? In Abu Dhabi? Busan, Korea? Jakarta, Indonesia? New Delhi?
Don’t bank on any of these half-cooked and hasty pronouncements about building railways in Rwanda by 2018. This mirage will go the same way as Kagame’s Kigali-Dar lunatic express – dead things that are permanently on the drawing board.

Source: David Himbara

When rulers take citizens for fools

14 Nov 2014

After a three month global-trotting, President Paul Kagame is now sharing with the citizens the good news of what he achieved, including the railroad. Mr and Mrs Kagame seem to be pleased - the cheering crowd is a sign of love and popularity.

Is that so?

Take a closer look at the cheering crowd in this photo. These are school children bussed in for the occasion.
These are the games played when rulers take citizens for fools. Citizens are never fools though - they merely play survival games. They attend these political rallies because the police state is watching via Nyumba Kumi.

By: David Himbara

President Kagame's enormous power and wealth can't buy him what he needs most....

16 Nov 2014

1. Peace of Mind. Look at this photograph of Kagame at Kirehe, Eastern Province. For a gentleman who says he is powerful and popular, he needs a whole army battalion to "protect" him from citizens...This is hardly a sign of having a peace of mind.
2. Sanity and happiness. Power and wealth are not by themselves cure-all against an ill-led life that include physical elimination of compatriots.Executive jets, expensive hotels, and trips to American, European and Asian capitals do not increase Kagame's sanity and happiness. To the contrary....
3. Friendship. No amount of power, status, or wealth can compensate for a life devoid of genuine friends. With Blaise Compaore, Burkina Faso dictator, overthrown, the only head of state Kagame may call a friend is Uganda's Yoweri Museveni.

Source: David Himbara

President Kagame's announcement of soon-to-be Rwanda railway took me back to 1896!

16 Nov 2014

Why 1896? That is the year Kanjogera consolidated her power having conspired to murder the newly-installed ruler Rutarindwa who was burnt alive with his entire family and followers.
But the year 1896 has greater significance in the broader East Africa. That is when the building of the original 600-mile length of Uganda-Kenya Railway begun, linking the interior to the coast .
Enter Kagame, who happens to be a nephew of Kanjogera.
Whether Kagame is aware or not, when he announced the Rwandan railway on his recent rallies, we are two years short of celebrating the 120th year since the arrival of the railway in East Africa. Sadly, we are also two years short of commemorating the rise of Kanjogera and the mass murder she unleashed from 1896 onwards.
This raises a question: will Kagame be remembered for bringing a railroad to Rwanda, or for mass murder like his grand aunt Kanjogera? One thing is for one, not even Kagame can hide from history. For those unable to speculate the answer, history will in due course confirm Kagame's legacy.

Source: David Himbara

How much aid has Rwanda received since 1994?

James B from Kigali wants to know how much aid Rwanda has received since 1994. To answer this question, let us first understand the definitions of "aid." The term "official development assistance" (ODA) describes:
1. Loans made on concessional terms, meaning, loans that do not bear any interest or a rate of interest that is below the average cost;
2. Grants are non-repayable funds made by donor nations or by multilateral agencies to recipient countries;
3. Loans with a grant element of at least 25 percent discount.
The following are annual ODA (in US$) that Rwanda has received from 1994 to 2013. It is evident that ODA to Rwanda steadily increased from $335 million in 2003 to $1.2 billion in 2011 before sharply being reduced to $878 million in 2013, and further declining to $661 million in 2013.
The sharp reduction of ODA to Rwanda in 2012 and 2013 mark the period when donors cut or suspended aid to Rwanda in protest of the Kagame government sponsorship of M23 in DR Congo. The data below showing the year and the amount of ODA Rwanda received is from the World Bank:
1994 -....711,750,000
1995 -....694,700,000
1996 -....465,310,000
1997 -....229,670,000
1998 -....350,070,000
1999 -....373,080,000
2000 -....321,460,000
2001 -....304,880,000
2002 -....362,920,000
2003 -....335,240,000
2004 -....490,110,000
2005 -....577,400,000
2006 -....603,070,000
2007 -....722,570,000
2008 -....933,510,000
2009 -....933,590,000
2010 - 1,032,200,000
2011 - 1,264,000,000
2012 -....878,990,000
2013 -....661,428,571
Rwanda has clearly received substantial aid of over $12 billion in 20 years, making the country the biggest per capita ODA recipient in East Africa. Rwanda ODA capita was in 2012, $77; Kenya, $61; Tanzania, $59; Burundi, $53, and Uganda, $49.

Source: David Himbara

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

For Rwandan Man In Boston, New Arms Replace Those A Father Destroyed

By  June 30, 2014

Greig Martino fits a new prosthetic on Patrick Mbarushimana at the United Prosthetics workshop in Dorchester. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

BOSTON — In the mid-1990s, following the Rwandan genocide, clashes between government forces and mostly Hutu rebels continued along the country’s border with then Zaire. One day, soldiers came to a mud brick home in a small village and questioned a father while his young son listened.
The father denied helping rebels, but the boy, then 6 years old, said yes, some men had slept in the house the night before. The soldiers took the father away.
When the father returned a day later, “he said that he’s going to do something that I won’t forget,” recalled Patrick Mbarushimana, now 22.
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The details of Patrick’s punishment are murky. In one story that circulated through his village, the father tied Patrick by the arms to a tree. Gangrene set in before he was released. In Patrick’s memory, his father started a fire and sat on him, with his bound arms facing the blaze until rope burned through to the bone.
Patrick says his father left him to die, but he ran away to the soldiers and told them what happened. The father was arrested.

“We heard shootings within that prison,” Patrick said in a soft voice. “Immediately [the soldier] brought us to the car, taking us to the hospital.”
The soldiers told Patrick they had killed his father because if they didn’t, he would kill others.
At the hospital, doctors amputated Patrick’s right arm just below the elbow and his left arm about four inches below the shoulder. Patrick was wandering the hospital halls when a producer with CNN, Ingrid Formanek, arrived looking for survivors of a recent massacre.
“He was dirty, he was soiled, he was jumping into bed at night with patients to keep warm,” Formanek recalled. “That night I called my husband, I was upset. I said this child, we gotta do something. I don’t know why this child and not another child, but anyway, he got to me.”
Formanek partnered with Tharcisse Karugarama, a lawyer she knew at the time. Karugarama, who later became Rwanda’s minister of justice, offered to give Patrick a home.
“I provided the emotional and psychological support,” Karugarama said. “She did everything else.”
Formanek paid for Patrick’s schooling and other expenses. She ordered a set of artificial arms through the mail when Patrick was younger. They didn’t work out, but Formanek and Karugarama never gave up.
‘This Is Incredibly Amazing’
“Now I can scratch,” Patrick said after being fitted with his new arm. “This is incredibly amazing.” (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
At United Prosthetics in Dorchester, Greig Martino, grandson of the company’s founder, pounds the final rivet into a new right forearm for Patrick as he waits downstairs. The prosthetic is a brown tube that ends in tong-like, curved hooks.
“Ooo,” Patrick says after sliding the soft flesh below his elbow into the socket. He stretches the arm out several times before raising it toward his face. “Now I can scratch. This is incredibly amazing.”
Both the right arm and the left will be held on with straps that loop around the opposite shoulder. Patrick pulls against the harness, using what’s left of his arm, underarm and back muscles to extend the artificial limb. As he extends, a cable that runs through the arm tightens, pulling open the two hooks.
Martino gets a laugh out of Patrick as he adjusts the fitting of his new left arm. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
“Now can I hold you?” Patrick asks, reaching out to shake Martino’s hand. Martino obliges.
“Hello, sir,” Patrick says.
“Hello, sir,” Martino responds. “How are you?”
“Great,” Patrick says with a smile Martino returns.
A Public Disability 
Patrick is an accomplished artist. He plays soccer, sings and produces music, rides a bike, and swims. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The arms will change his life, Patrick says, although he’s surprisingly adept without them. He’s an accomplished artist, having learned to pick up a pencil with his lips and teeth, then place it between what’s left of his two arms. He plays soccer, sings and produces music, rides a bike, and swims.
Four of Patrick’s drawings. From left to right, Thabo Mbeki, Beyonce, Nelson Mandela and Akon
But he can’t go to the bathroom by himself, bathe or get dressed, and he’s tired of having such a public disability.
“People who sees me ask me very many questions,” Patrick says. “Others, they cry.”
“Maybe sometimes I will be able to put on shirts with long sleeves, so that people won’t know, unless they see the hook, that I don’t have arms,” Patrick says, adding that he’s not ashamed of how he looks.
Patrick will probably still need help with the buttons from 18-year-old Maurice Murenzi, who’s been Patrick’s constant companion for 16 years.
Maurice Murenzi, 18, right, assists Patrick with all tasks he is unable to do. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“Since I met him, we became brothers,” Murenzi says.
The boys came of age after the 1994 genocide, during which 800,000 Rwandans were killed. Most of the dead were Tutsi. Most of the killing was done by Hutus. Patrick and Maurice were adopted into a home that includes Tutsis and Hutus. The young men say tribal differences don’t matter in their relationship.
A Low-Tech Solution 
Patrick writes “I love you all” on a workbench at United Prosthetics as he tests out his new arm. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
“You’re keeping your chest out, like this,” says Dr. Brendan Green, modeling the stance Patrick will use to move his new left arm. This fitting is tricky. Muscles around what’s left of the 4-inch limb haven’t been used in years.
A higher tech, more robotic arm might help, but those models require regular maintenance not available in Rwanda. So for Patrick, Dr. Green and the team at United Prosthetics went in the other direction.
“This is as low maintenance as it gets,” Green says. “This prosthesis, given all the spare parts that we will give him, will last 10 to 20 years.”
“Together we will do something greater to this world, me and you,” Patrick says to Green and Martino.
“We make good team?” Martino asks. Patrick nods. “All right, brother, it works,” Martino says.
Samantha Conley, an occupational therapist at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, helps Patrick get his shirt over his head. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Three days later, Patrick is at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. The Braintree-basedRay Tye Medical Aid Foundation is funding the $40,000 to $45,000 cost of Patrick’s prosthetics and rehab.
Patrick sits across a table from his occupational therapist, Samantha Conley. His black Manchester United soccer jersey lies between them.
“Can you put your head in first?” Conley asks.
Twenty minutes after he started, the shirt is stuck on Patrick’s head.
“This is a very great work,” Patrick says, breathing as if he’s just finished working out.
“Where are you?” Conley asks, laughing.
“I’m lost,” Patrick says, returning the laughter.
At the end of the appointment, Patrick, who’s produced a handful of songs and videos in Rwanda, delivers a gift for Conley.
“Can I rap for you?” he asks.
Patrick, holding a microphone with one hook hand, belts out “Dufatanye,” a song about “unity, let’s work together, as one.” Patrick uses the stage name Puzzle when he raps, because, he says, the whole picture of his life is not yet clear.
Rwanda has won praise since the genocide for bringing Tutsis and Hutus together to improve the country’s health and economic well-being. But a recent Human Rights Watch report raises concerns about an increase in what it says are politically motivated detentions and disappearances.
Patrick, an incidental peace ambassador, will be in Boston for a few more weeks, spreading his message of resilience and hope.
Source: Common Health

Rwanda: Acquitted but still not free


Beth S. Lyons

In February 2014, Lead Counsel Chief Charles A. Taku and I (with our defence team) won the acquittal of our client, Major F.X. Nzuwonemeye, former Commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion, Rwandan Army in April 1994, in the Ndindiliyimanaet al. (‘Military II’) case at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). The Appeals Chamber reversed the Trial Chamber's convictions for crimes against humanity and violations of article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II for the murders of the Belgian peacekeepers and former Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana.

Major Nzuwonemeye joined the other ICTR acquitted persons and those who have completed their sentences (about ten in total), who live under U.N. auspices in a ‘safe house’ in Arusha, Tanzania. One person, Dr.Andre Ntagerura, has lived in a ‘safe house’ since his acquittal at trial in 2004. The reason is that no country where these men can live in safety and without fear will accept them. They are separated from their families. Many of their families live in Europe, in countries where these men were initially arrested, prior to transfer to the ICTR.

These men are former members of the Rwandan government and military in 1994 - the very enemy against whom the Rwandan Patriotic Front, led by Rwanda's current President Paul Kagame, waged war. A year or so ago, Rwanda expressed its willingness to accept these persons. Based on the government's past and current practices and attitudes towards its opponents (both inside and outside the country), the men fear for their safety if they were to set foot on Rwandan soil.

Their fears are unequivocally justified. The environment in Rwanda under the current government is unsafe for anyone or any party perceived to be in opposition to the regime. As The Economist's editorial on the Parliamentary elections in September 2013 stated, ‘Political opposition has been allowed only where it does not question the RPF's role as the country's saviour.’

The opponents of the RPF - whether political candidates, or journalists or other individuals - are imprisoned or found dead. In the last Presidential election in 2010, the First Vice-President of the Democratic Green Party (one of the three opposition parties excluded from the ballot), Andre Rwisereka, was found dead a few weeks prior to the elections. Leaders (as well as members) of other opposition parties, such as Me. Bernard Ntaganda, Deogratias Mushayidi, Dr. Theoneste Niyitegeka, and Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire remain incarcerated. Journalists have been killed inside and outside the country. In fact, Rwanda ranks 162nd out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

Victoire Ingabire, President of the Unified Democratic Forces (FDU-Inkingi), a coalition of Rwandan opposition parties, returned to her home country after 16 years in exile in the Netherlands to challenge President Kagame in the last Presidential election. Instead, she was arrested and prosecuted for ‘genocide ideology,’ ‘divisionism’ and other charges related to terrorism and is now serving a sentence of fifteen years (see, Amnesty International's 2013 publication, Rwanda in Jeopardy: The First Instance Trial of Victoire Ingabire). In a resolution (23 May 2013), the European Parliament stated that it ‘strongly condemns the politically motivated nature of the trial’ and noted that ‘respect for fundamental human rights, including political pluralism and freedom of expression and association, are severely restricted in Rwanda, making it difficult for opposition parties to operate and for journalists to express critical views.’ The bottom line is that Kagame's stranglehold on human rights is omnipresent. It has fostered an environment in which the violations of human rights, the suppression of the opposition, and the muzzling of journalists occur with impunity.

The most recent U.S. State Department Country Report 2013, issued in February 2014, concluded that ‘the most important human rights problems in the country remained the government's targeting of political opponents and human rights advocates for harassment, arrest, and abuse; disregard for the rule of law among security forces and the judiciary; restrictions on civil liberties; and support of a rebel group [M23] in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).’

The report also identified other major problems, including arbitrary or unlawful killings both inside and outside of the country. In March 2014, South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats, after authorities linked them to attacks on former leaders of Kagame's own party, who were in opposition to the Kigali regime. Patrick Karegeya, former Chief of External Intelligence Services, who had been granted asylum in South Africa, was found strangled in a Johannesburg hotel on 1 January 2014. President Kagame, interviewed by the Wall Street Journal at Davos, Switzerland, denied any involvement in his death, and reportedly said, ‘But I add that, I actually wish Rwanda did it. I really wish it.’ Kagame claimed that Karegeya, a leading opposition figure, was part of a group that threatened Rwanda and its people but did not describe the threat.

In Rwanda, media pronouncements on the guilt of ICTR defendants, prior to a trial and verdict, void the presumption of innocence. When there are ICTR acquittals, some civil society groups (including IBUKA, well-known as a state controlled organization) challenge the legitimacy of these judgments. In the last months, these groups filed a petition against Judge Meron [2] (the presiding judge in the Appeals Chamber) with the Security Council, opposing the acquittals of government and military leaders and demanding an investigation of the presiding judge.

At the heart of this is the RPF's consternation that no former government official or military commander stands convicted of conspiracy to commit genocide. Some have been acquitted by the Trial Chamber; others have been acquitted by the Appeals Chamber, which has reversed Trial Chamber convictions for conspiracy to commit genocide.

This charge is the sine qua non of the Rwandan government's ‘official narrative’ of the events of 1994: that there was a pre-planned genocide of the Tutsis by the Hutus, orchestrated by the highest official echelons in Rwanda. In this ‘official’ recollection of 1994, the whole state apparatus, from the national level down to local communes, from the Rwandan army to the local bourgmestre (equivalent of mayor) at the commune level, had been transformed into a killing machine against the Tutsi population. This is essentially the scenario in the book by the late Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story, which has been used as the Bible of the prosecution in drafting the indictments.

The fact is that the evidence presented by the prosecution at the ICTR did not prove the allegations of conspiracy to commit genocide beyond a reasonable doubt. For a fuller critique of, and alternative view to, the ‘official narrative,’ based on the trial evidence, including the role of the U.S. and the U.K. in covering up the truth, see ‘The Accidental...Genocide [3]' by Professor Peter Erlinder. 

No doubt alarmed that the evidence did not follow the ‘official narrative,’ the petition states: ‘...It is disquieting to note that in all cases it has handled, all those known and accused of planning the genocide against Tutsi, no one has been convicted of this act of planning. Can genocide happen unplanned?’

Rwanda's U.N. Representative, Eugene-Richard Gasana, reiterated this point in his remarks to the U.N. Security Council in its debate on the international tribunals, held on 5 June 2014: ‘Rwanda fully understands that in a human undertaking such as judicial processes, all people indicted will not necessarily be convicted and sentenced. Nonetheless, we are extremely troubled at the dangerous trend of the ICTR Appeals Chamber of acquitting military commanders and cabinet ministers who were, for some of them, heavily condemned by the Trial Chamber...’.

Rwanda's petition and remarks are an affront to the rule of law, because they do not respect the legal judgments of the Tribunal; nor does the suggestion of an investigation of a presiding Judge indicate respect for the General Assembly, the body which elects ICTR judges.

In this context, returning home is not an option for my client, or for others who have been acquitted or have completed their sentences. The struggle to get countries to accept these men must be based on strict adherence to, and respect for, the rule of law...a principle that is clearly lacking in Rwanda.

* Beth S. Lyons served as a defense counsel in three cases at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. Her review of Professor Nancy Amoury Combs' book, Fact-Finding Without Facts: The Uncertain Evidentiary Foundations of International Criminal Convictions, was published in the Journal of Genocide Research in September 2011.


Fingers point at FDLR as mysterious fires gut Rwanda prisons

Kigali’s commercial centre of Quartier Matteus burns of July 8, 2014 afternoon. The inferno raged for well over two hours before it was put out by police and military fire brigades. In the past month, fires have been reported in two state prisons, prompting fears of sabotage. Photo/Daniel S. Ntwari 

Posted  Friday, July 11  2014 at  20:20
As government officials remained tight-lipped on the causes of recent fires in state prisons, one of which claimed the lives of three inmates, some insiders would not rule out sabotage.
Some sources even pointed a finger at the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)-based militants are widely implicated in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, as well as several bomb and grenade attacks on unarmed civilians in Rwanda from across the border.
“It cannot be a coincidence that two correctional facilities can be gutted by fire in one month,” an official at Rwanda Correctional Services, who preferred anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, told Rwanda Today. “This has to do with work of an insider or an enemy within.”
The source further revealed that the prison service and intelligence agencies would ensure the cause of the fire was established.
Unconfirmed reports were reportedly making rounds in Rubavu town alleged that the FDLR were behind the fire. These reports had, however, not been corroborated by officials by press time.
Three inmates were confirmed dead in an inferno that recently swept through Rubavu Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) facility, just weeks after another prison in Muhanga district was gutted by fire.
At 8pm on Monday, fightfighters were still battling the fire which gutted a large section of one of the newest prison in Rwanda located in Rubavu, Western Province. Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) and Rwanda National Police battled the fire late into the night.
In an interview with the state broadcaster Radio Rwanda, Mayor of Rubavu Sheikh Hassan Bahame said the three died in the blaze while 40 others sustained injuries during a stampede that ensued.
According to sources at the scene, the fire broke out at around 4:30pm in one section of the facility. Eric Ntakirutimana, the acting director of the prison, told a local news outlet that he could not immediately confirm the cause of the fire.
“For now, our concern is the lives of the inmates as well as their property and that of the prison,” said Mr Ntakirutimana. “We cannot tell for now what the cause the fire was but we will launch investigations immediately.”
Residents of the district looked on as the correctional facility, which is located on a hill overlooking Lake Kivu, was consumed by the inferno. The picturesque prison, considered one of the new, model correctional facilities in the country, holds more than 3,000 inmates.
Just a month ago, a big section of Muhanga Correctional Facility, which is located in the southern district of Muhanga, was gutted by fire which, according to sources, was a result of “poor electrical installation.”
Investigations concluded that during fumigation some liquid chemicals got into contact with bare, live electrical wires, causing a short-circuit that sparked off the blaze.
The management of the facility, which also houses more than 3,000 prisoners, struggled to keep the excess inmates after a large section of it was destroyed. Prisoners were distributed in Mpanga and Huye prisons, which were already battling congestion.
The western and northern towns of Rubavu and Musanze have in recent days been gripped by tension originating from the alleged infiltration by FDLR elements. Some of the recent documented disappearances and arrests happened there.
Bars and nightclubs razed
The prison infernos rekindle memories of 2011, when dozens of schools across the country were gutted by mysterious fires and, later in 2012, when several bars and nightclubs in Kigali were razed in a series of fires.
At least 92 fires were recorded In 2012 and 84 in 2011, which has compelled the government to establish a special team to investigate the outbreaks. The fires also have exposed Rwanda’s lack of capacity to handle catastrophic fires, what with an ill-equipped firefighting department.
When last month Minister for Internal Security Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana was grilled by parliamentarians regarding the country’s ability to respond to fire disasters, he said more resources were being allocated to this end.
Eyewitnesses say that, in most cases, police arrived at the scene hours after the fire broke out and struggled to contain the blaze.

Rwandan tycoon drags govt to regional court

The Union Trade Centre (UTC) mall in Kigali, which is owned by exiled Rwandan business mogul Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa. Photo/Cyril Ndegeya
Posted  Saturday, July 12  2014 at  12:50
Exiled tycoon Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa has sued the government of Rwanda in the East African Court of Justice over the seizure of his property and assets in the country.
Several properties and assets belonging to Mr Rujugiro have been taken over by the state after being categorised as “abandoned properties.”
The latest was the takeover of his shares in Nshili Kivu Tea Factory by Nyaruguru District authorities on June 25 after the Commission for Abandoned Properties resolved it was “poorly managed.” It is now expected to manage the shares on Mr Rujugiro’s behalf.
Mr Rujugiro has businesses in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan, South Africa, Angola, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates, where he is currently based.
A former economic adviser of President Paul Kagame and stalwart of the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), he fled in 2009 after he was accused of funding anti-government groups. The business magnate told The EastAfrican he was determined to fight the “illegal” seizure in the regional court.
“I have filed a case in the East African Court of Justice to redeem my properties, including UTC Mall and my residence,” Mr Rujugiro said. “It will be heard in August or early September. My properties have never lacked someone to manage them.”
Contrary to laws
The EastAfrican established that the case was, indeed, filed in EACJ under reference number 10 of 2013 by Union Trade Centre (UTC). EACJ president Dr Emmanuel Ugirashebuja had said he was unaware of it.
CAP has instructed NKTF to deposit all monies due to Mr Rujugiro in Nyaruguru District’s bank account for “safekeeping.” Dr David Himbara, an advisor of Mr Rujugiro who is exiled in Canada, said the government had “illegally” replaced Mr Rujugiro as a shareholder in NKTF.
“The government claims that Mr Rujugiro’s assets were taken over because they were abandoned since he does not reside in Rwanda,” Dr Himbara said. “As Mr Rujugiro explains, however, this assertion is contrary to Rwandan and universal laws that protect shareholders regardless of whether they are domiciled inside or outside their native countries.
“Rwanda seems to be saying that no investor residing outside the country may own shares in Rwandan-based companies or, to be precise, a native Rwandan not living in their homeland may not own assets of any kind in their country.”
Nyaruguru vice-mayor Fabien Niyitegeka, the district’s CAP chair, confirmed the takeover.
“It is true we have taken over the management of the shares, but it is not about Mr Rujugiro alone,” he told The EastAfrican. “In fact, we have never seen him, or anyone from him with power of attorney, coming to us.
“So, the commission resolved that these shares were abandoned.”
He said an account to hold earnings of Mr Rujugiro’s shares had been opened. The tycoon holds an estimated five per cent stake each in the tea plantations and the factory, which he co-owns with a British firm.
A few months ago, CAP in the Kigali districts of Nyarugenge and Kicukiro took over the UTC Mall and the 60-room residence, respectively. The mall, located in the heart of the city, is valued at $20 million and the residence $2 million. The state also took over his local bank accounts.
The high-end Gikondo residence is said to have been converted into a guest house and bar but when The EastAfrican visited, there was no visible activity and the policeman at the gate denied our reporter access.
“No one is allowed inside; go to Kicukiro District and get permission,” the officer said.
A district official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the mansion was in the hands of Rwanda National Police but that was refuted by Internal Security Minister Sheikh Musa Harelimana at a news conference.
“Police does not engage in commercial activities and, even if they did, it would not be in the alcohol business because their job is to keep law and order, including curbing excessive consumption of alcohol,” he said.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Britain under pressure to end all aid to Rwandan government

By , Investigations Editor
9:00PM BST 06 Oct 2012

Britain is under mounting international pressure to stop all aid to the Rwandan government.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, Britain’s Minister for International Development Andrew Mitchell and Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni talk in Kigali Photo: REUTERS
The United Nations and the European Union wants the UK to withhold millions of pounds it is due to hand to President Paul Kagame’s government as part of an international campaign to choke his regime of funds.
Rwanda is accused of arming rebels responsible for atrocities, including mass rape, in the neighbouring Democrat Republic of Congo.
They hope that Britain will fall in line after David Cameron replaced Andrew Mitchell as international development secretary in his Cabinet reshuffle last month.
Britain initially agreed to go along with international condemnation of Rwandan involvement and to cancel £83 million it gives it in aid each year.
But Mr Mitchell’s last act in the job, before he was moved to the role of Chief Whip, had been to restore about £8m aid to the regime, with another £8m to follow later this year, apparently against the advice of officials in his department and from the Foreign Office.
He based the decision on personal assurances from the Rwandan president and on his own experiences running a small Conservative “charity” project in the country.
Officials were told his personal experience with Project Umubano outweighed evidence from a group of experts from the UN, Human Rights Watch observers and Foreign Office officials.
The Sunday Telegraph has learned that the UN and EU privately expressed their “disappointment” with Mr Mitchell’s decision at a hastily convened international contact group meeting at the Foreign Office last month.
A source at the meeting said there were “obvious differences” between Foreign Office officials and “between different officials in the Department for International Development”.
Mr Mitchell apparently also ignored police intelligence reports that suggest Rwandan dissidents living in exile in Britain are being targeted by the regime.
Last year the Metropolitan Police took the unusual step of issuing the Rwandan exiles with formal warning notices stating that “the Rwandan government poses an imminent threat to your life”.
The United Nations and Europe have both accused President Kagame of giving support and weapons to the so-called 23 March Movement (known as M23) in the Democrat Republic of Congo, accusing it of attacking civilians and “acts of sexual violence”.
At a meeting at the UN in New York last week the EU directly accused Rwanda of backing the M23 rebels. President Kagame and senior figures in his regime may now face sanctions over their links to the group and human rights abuses it has carried out.
Two new confidential reports on Rwanda’s involvement with the M23 rebels were presented to Security Council officials last week and are likely to lead to further action being taken against the regime at the UN in the next few weeks.
A UN source said: “Britain’s position has come as a bit of a disappointment to those who are trying to alter the position on the ground. Everyone else is united in putting pressure on Rwanda.”
Britain is Rwanda’s largest aid contributor and the source said its involvement in bring pressure to bear on President Kagame was “vitally important”.
Internal documents from DfID, released under the Freedlom of Information Act, reveal that in a February 2011 telephone conversation, Mr Mitchell had promised the Rwandan president that Britain would increase its aid from £60m to £90m by 2015. Two months earlier, he had flown to Rwanda for a “90-minute tete-a-tete followed by lunch” with the newly re-elected president.
But the memos also reveal doubts within the department about the “political risk” in Rwanda. Mr Mitchell’s ministerial colleague, Stephen O’Brien, highlighted international concern about human rights in Rwanda.
Justine Greening, the new International Development Secretary, must now decide whether Rwanda should receive the second tranche of the money promised by Mr Mitchell. Her office did not respond to requests for comment last night.
It is understood that Mr Mitchell based his decision to continue aiding Rwanda on “personal assurances” from Mr Kagame who had previously attended the Conservative conference and lavished praise on Project Umubano calling it an “unprecedented” example of aid. He is also understood to claim, though, that the decision was later agreed by Downing Street.
The Conservatives’ Rwanda project was Mr Mitchell’s personal brainchild but was designed to show the caring side of Mr Cameron’s Party when it was in opposition.
Now also working in Sierra Leone, the project has seen more than 200 Tory supporters, including Mr Mitchell, his wife Sharon and their daughter Rosie, fly to Rwanda for two-week stints to help as the country slowly recovers from the genocide which saw an estimated 800,000 people murdered there in 1994.
Mrs Mitchell, a GP, has also spent several months working as a doctor in Rwanda.
The Prime Minister praised the project as “the first time that any British political party had engaged in a social action project in the developing world”.
He said he and Mr Mitchell had set it up “to raise awareness of global poverty and play a small part in tackling it on the front line”.
Yesterday a Conservative spokeswoman said the project, which includes an annual Tories versus locals cricket match, had “provided English lessons to over 3,000 Rwandan primary school teachers, renovated a school, established a small medical library and built a community centre”.
Conservative volunteers, including ministers, MPs, Parliamentary candidates and local councillors, pay their own airfares, but much of the start up money for the project came from a wealthy widow from Hove, Helena Frost.
Despite having little interest in politics, according to her family, Mr Mitchell personally persuaded Mrs Frost to provide the funding. Electoral Commission files show that before her death last November, she gave the party £250,000 in donations – £200,000 of which went to fund Mr Mitchell’s office in opposition and £50,000 directly to the Rwanda project.
Last night, Mrs Frost’s nephew Mark, who was close to his aunt and often accompanied her to charitable events, said he was “slightly taken aback” that she gave so much.
He said: “It would appear Mr Mitchell (was) very charming and very persuasive. It was quite a large sum which doesn’t necessarily seem to fit with the amounts she ordinarily gave to the many other charities she supported.
“She was not one to meddle in politics at all and was convinced the money was going to help the poor. She would have not have given money to politicians for political use or gain, she had understood that she was helping the poor in Rwanda.”
He added: “This was a private matter and she was reticent about this particular charitable donation.
“She was a wonderful woman who had a great passion for certain causes and for many people. I can only imagine that this may have been the case on this particular case for her to have contributed such large sums to a single cause.”
He said Mr Mitchell had been introduced to her through another charity that he was involved with and to which Mrs Frost, who had a considerable personal fortune and had also set up a £6 million charitable foundation in the name of her late husband Patrick, had contributed large sums.

Source: The Telegraph