Last week I was invited on Radio Contact to discuss constitutional change in Africa. The debate was moderated by my friend Albert Rudatsimburwa and my antagonist was Dr. Frederick Mutebi-Golooba; a man that I respect.
Fred was of the view that the constitution should be changed to let President Kagame stand again (I am summing-up); Even Albert went out of his way as moderator to take the same stand.
Of course they are well-read, intelligent men, and their arguments were couched on strong, valid points. Yet, I was of a different view. Alas, I found myself only agreeing with the ‘voice’, of a Ugandan who was coming on-and-off on a Skype – with bad connection.
This morning I read a moving piece by Dr. Col. Sen. Karemera Joseph: ‘great leader with a great track record: A recollection’. The reason I put up all his titles is to emphasize his distinguished caliber, which at the same time reflects the respect I have for him.
I particularly appreciated the fact that he has spoken from his heart, and of the good things that we stand to gain by keeping such an extraordinary man as Kagame. His article has spoken to me.
Others who have taken similar stands, did not speak from their hearts; they predicted the future, prophesied doom and dismissed the capacity of the Rwandan people to find another person to lead them in the absence of President Kagame; Their messages did not speak to me.
This will be my last comment on the issue. First, because after this I will have canvassed it from all angles (I have written five articles on it); second because the thought of disagreeing with Sen. Karemera doesn’t sit well with me.
But I won’t disagree with him, especially because most of the things he talks about; he was there! He knows, oh so may things that I don’t; and most importantly, I believe his position would be reasoned.
I just wish he could have come up with a different conclusion; I wish at the end of his article, he could have said: “… and that is why, having spent enough time observing and taking part in Kagame’s leadership, I feel ready to take over from him. And with his support as a member of my future ‘Presidential Advisory Council’, continue his legacy…”
Because if there were a man I would happily vote for, Dr. Karemera is that man. He reunites all the criteria I am looking for in our next president. Alternatively, Here is whom else I would vote for and why:
Rwanda is a small country:
I pointed this out in my first article on the issue; President Kagame’s ambitions transcend this tiny country at the heart of Africa. Unlike many Africans, he has understood that openness to the world is the key to developing one’s society.
Accordingly, he spends almost half of his time abroad; expanding Rwandan horizons and winning us new friends, instead of seating here fighting over peanuts and indulging in daily Rwandan intrigues..
Take two weeks ago for instance; he went to the ‘World Economic Forum’ and literally stole the show. There were all world leaders, and yet, a black president from an African country with 10 million people was setting the world’s agenda…
Ban Ki Moon is a happy man:
Throughout his term as UN Secretary General, he has had a benevolent consultant in Kagame. Every time there is a critical docket at hand, he asks Kagame to handle it; every time there is a crisis in Africa – or America, He asks Kagame to step in and help restore peace. Every time he wants to demonstrate that those UN’s models finally work, he sites Kagame’s Rwanda.
And Kagame enjoys this; he has managed to put Rwanda on the map of the world; everyone knows Rwanda. Detractors say it is because Rwanda suffered the Genocide; that is not true; in fact, the recognition of what happened in Rwanda as genocide was another of Kagame’s successes. Not least, there are many African countries, which have experienced atrocities in the 20th century – a particularly atrocious century – but none of their leaders commands similar respect.
Rwandans shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Our performance is so unprecedented, that it has ‘humbled’ many. So much so that, I am irritated by the cynical smile on their faces, when they say to me: ‘of course Kagame will change the constitution and remain in power for ever!’ as if to comfort themselves: ‘ah finally, we aren’t the fools – these Rwandans are not special after all!
Kagame as our next president remains a mortal, who can live and rule, maybe for another 30 years; Kagame who voluntarily steps down, becomes a God! An immortal, with unmatched personal achievements, whom every honest man will love and every cynic will hate. But who will have irreversibly restored the pride of the Rwandan people and the African people, for generations to come.
So are we ever going to be ready to replace Kagame? Most likely never! But is it necessary to do it? Yes!
So who for President then? I go for Dr. Donald Kaberuka. I don’t personally know him, but I know his track record: He has been a member of Kagame’s ‘Presidential Advisory Council’ – so has learned at Kagame’s school. He is an experienced economist, a great fundraiser; all qualities that would come in handy.
Besides, as president of the AfDB for ten years, he has the caliber and experience of a world’s statesman, and presidents lineup to see him. He has proven his hand when he stabilized Rwanda’s post-genocide economy, then went on to completely transform the African Development Bank. Today it has supplanted the World Bank as Africa’s biggest financier. Moreover, he has no known enemies and seems unanimously respected; He was named African of The Year by the Daily Trust in 2013 and by Forbes in 2014.
But the elephant in the room is: of course he remains a civilian, with no influence in the Rwandan Army.
I wouldn’t worry about that: I believe the Rwandan Army is the strongest institution in this country. And here I am not talking about guns; I am talking about organization, discipline and efficiency. And I don’t think South Sudanese, Central African Republicans or even Congolese would disagree with me.
And indeed that would be the opportunity to slowly transition to a republican army: One that is not under the clout of the Head of State, but under the command of republican institutions; the Supreme Court, the Parliament, the Executive, etc.; it is the attainment of the ideal principle of the supremacy of the civilian over the military in a republic;
The second reason I wouldn’t worry, is because President Kagame would still be there as the father of the nation; our version of the ‘Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’ – except ours will be revered beyond Rwanda, and allowed to travel the world and preach the good news.
He will be discharged of the daily routines of a president, namely: signing laws, holding cabinet meetings, inaugurating new hotels and factories, etc..
He will spend time fostering more friendships for Rwanda, writing his memoirs, inspiring young generations and thinking about what Rwanda and Africa should look like, when him and his comrade Dr. Karemera will be no more…
– Oh, how beautiful would that be;
– but that’s just the way I see;
– Because this is my last column;
– Let me end it with a poem:
– I don’t want a mere president, I want an African Icon;
– I want a clean sheet, I want a grand slam; I want my champion.
– Perhaps I can’t have it all, I don’t know what’s at stake,
– I reckon am just a dreamer, and y’all are well awake;
– My apologies, this was my last piece;
– From now on, I’ll hold my peace…
Posted 11th February