When Prof. Rwanyindo retired from the Institute for Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), it is alleged that he went to the ruling party (RPF) and asked them to appoint his replacement.
He could have lobbied for Dr. Nasson Munyandamutsa who deputized him to take over, but you see, by retirement age one tends to chose one’s battles… let’s park this story for a second and move to another one.
Aurelien Agbenonsi, the Country Representative of UNDP at the time, commissions an organizational capacity assessment and job appraisal within UNDP Rwanda Country Office.
In simple English: he believes that his UN institution has become a white elephant -I know; shocking… and wants to fire some people. Some positions are cancelled, contracts are not renewed and the rest of positions are re-advertised and people have to compete.
You have to understand when these things happen in the UN, most people would give up their left hand instead of loosing the comfortable, spicy jobs. So, people at the UNDP office are cursing Aurelien, except my friend Christian who was facing another dilemma. The man applied to two positions of Director and got both of them. He couldn’t decide…
Another gentleman (Joe) wasn’t as lucky and lost his job. Aurelien tells us that he was incompetent, but in cocktails people maintain that he was sidelined due to his ties with the RPF. Either way, he is hardly what you would refer to as ‘Independent’.
That’s whom the Rwandan Patriotic Front picks to replace Dr. Rwanyindo Ruzirabwoba Petero, as head of the Institute for Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), an Interpeace project – thereby confirming the cocktail party rumors!
Sure enough he gets in the organization with clear briefing and starts pushing around Dr. Nasson and Reverien, two men who’d been with IRDP for over a decade.
Dr. Nasson could have asked the party to moderate, (assuming it was true), but having been passed on for the Director job, he believed he didn’t have their trust. So he goes to his actual bosses – that’s Interpeace – and complains about the new guy. In the meantime we are all baffled that the RPF could do such thing, and that Joe actually accepted the job.
What were they thinking?! I ask myself. If he was a loyal cadre of the party, why didn’t they appoint him minister, or mayor of Nyabihu? Why didn’t he tell them: guys look, I badly need a job but I am spooked. Anyway, now we know that IRDP reports to the RPF (still, assuming it is true) – we didn’t need to…
Long story short, the bible says: men favored by God receive blessings while they sleep. Indeed my other friend Ryarasa, while taking the afternoon siesta, receives a call from Dr. Nasson and Reverien. They want to bring millions of dollars and solid expertise to his organization Never Again-Rwanda! He can’t believe his luck. He gets up, washes his face then simply asks: ‘Where do I sign?’
Overnight the two men resign from IRDP, are hired by Never Again, and take the funding and the legitimacy with them. To feel good about themselves, Joe and his friends at the party decide that Dr. Nasson is ‘Igipinga’ – anti-system.
Joe writes a letter to the Rwanda Governance Board – the Institution in charge of NGOs – asking them to prevent Never Again Rwanda from receiving Interpeace funding. When they ask me how to respond, I advice them to let it go. This is embarrassing…
Eventually Joe moves on to a different job. Now IRDP has another head who is struggling to reestablish long lost reputation, let alone funding…
I couldn’t let this pass without setting the records straight and rehabilitating the reputation of Dr. Nasson Munyandamutsa. He was a man of irreproachable integrity. He did his work with the highest level of independence.
When I went to Bujumbura in a meeting where I knew I would meet Philip Reyntjens, Steve Hagues and Jason Sterns, I went to Dr. Nasson and he gave me three DVDs of the dialogues that IRDP organize in rural areas.
These DVDs were spectacular and helped me shut-up all these guys who claimed that in Rwanda people don’t talk – lucky for me there was a lady in the meeting working for Interpeace in Switzerland, who confirmed – hesitantly – that the DVDs were from their project in Rwanda. In the end I generously donated the three DVDs to the three musketeers – one each. I reckon they scratched and destroyed them…
I am writing this now not to do Dr. Nasson a favor, may his Soul rest in peace, but to flag up a recurrent problem. There is a well known poem, ‘Our greatest fear’, by Marianne Williamson. My favorite line is: ‘And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same…’
There are many people in this town who thrive on backstabbing others in the party, as well as people who would put their individual interests ahead of the multitude’s.
That shouldn’t be. Over the years the cake has expanded; there is enough for everyone. One can prove one’s worth by their deeds, not by another’s shortcomings – real or imagined.
One more thing; some people have a misplaced sense of entitlement. One man: One man only campaigned in broad daylight and was elected by the people. Anyone else was hired. It is confusing when one has to pay allegiance to every self-appointed crony.
I don’t know the ins and outs of the whole plot, but in this particular case a very reputable institution was undermined and Dr. Nasson was hanged out to dry. Yet he wasn’t discouraged, he went to another young organization and helped build it up. He was a generous and resilient man. That is how I remember him.