Self-centered advocates for reinstating aid to Rwanda

Congolese women protesting against Rwandan support to M23

Donors have been too much lenient towards Rwanda because of the international community’s sense of guilt following its attitude during the 1994 genocide. On the tragedy itself, many argue that US and UK foreign policies for the region played a big part.

If it had not been for that blurred context, it would have been long that the Rwandan regime would have seen its external support dramatically restricted because of its numerous crimes inside and outside the country.

Added to these, there exists as well in Paul Kagame’s country repressive structures which once compared to Robert Mugabe’s, the latter’s seem improperly labelled as oppressive.

A few of the most recent of crimes and abuses of human rights by the Rwandan regime include for example:

  • sentencing Victoire Ingabire, FDU-Inkingi leader, to eight years of imprisonment;
  • supporting M23 rebel group and increasing the suffering that war causes in Eastern Congo;
  • murdering Theogene Turatsinze in Mozambique, former Managing Director of the Rwandan Development Bank; this personality was apparently killed for fear he could reveal names from the Rwandan Patriotic Front leading politicians who bankrupted the bank and thus covered up traces of funds they had siphoned from it.

Despite such crimes and many more which among others have made the majority of Rwandan citizens become second class individuals in their own country, or saw more than 6 million of Congolese die, on 8th November 2012, former UK Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, argued during his hearing before the Parliament Select Committee that blocking aid to Rwanda would only impact on rural populations but not on the elite in Kigali, and by extension their negative policies.

But what the former Secretary of State forgot to mention about aid, and which has been investigated in the past and confirmed by UN experts is that, for example in the case of Uganda, “(it) gave the Government room to spend more on security matters while other sectors, such as education, health and governance, are being taken care of by the bilateral and multilateral aid.”

This assertion is found in the UN report of 2001 on “Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.” And we are aware that Rwanda and Uganda, both being important recipients of UK and US aid, have worked in tandem, occupying Eastern Congo and plundering Congolese resources for many years.

Additionally, and surprisingly, despite what Kigali has always claimed about the Rwandan economic miracle, which only benefits the elite in the capital of the country, we have over the years received from people on the ground multiple testimonies of significant level of hunger in the population, lack of access to education and health, numerous farmers who are dispossessed of their properties without compensation, systematic discrimination in employment and other sectors of society applied by officials among Hutus and Tutsis, favouring the latter at the expense of the former.

On Friday 9th November 2012, this was the occasion for another advocate for reinstating aid to Rwanda. Donald Kaberuka, a Rwandan economist who is the current president of the African Development Bank and member of the Rwanda Development Board, argued that if suspension of aid is not lifted, that could damage the country’s development, and the recovery cost could be even higher. He even added that the current status quo could cause a crisis in the region. Would such crisis be humanitarian or only economic, maybe if the economist had been clearer, his assessment of the situation would be addressed more adequately in due course by concerned stakeholders.

Lets agree on plausible and predicted consequences. But what about the plight of the more than 6 million of Congolese deaths that Rwanda and Uganda’s interference in DRC has caused. What about the tens of thousands of Congolese raped women and entire communities destroyed by militias funded by these two countries. What about the never ending suffering of children, women, old people from Eastern Congo whose lives haven’t seen any lasting peace for the last twenty years. What about Rwandans whose basic human rights are persistently denied by a regime which pursues policies of killing, silencing, torturing, and harassing its citizens to rule over them.

Apparently, advocates for reinstating aid to Rwanda don’t seem to get it. Can they somehow picture or evaluate objectively the economic and human development damages Rwanda has inflicted to the Democratic Republic of Congo or its own citizens before pleading for the former?

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