For Online E-newspaper
The East African : April 7th 2014
8 Govt fights pove≥ty, builds ≥econciliation By AIMABLE TWAHIRWA Special Correspondent TWENTY YEARS ago, Sylidio Gashirabake, a Hutu, was a perpetrator of Rwanda’s genocide. Augustin Kabogo, a Tutsi, lost his sister and family in the violence. But today, both men work side-by-side in a joint business in Kirehe district in southeastern Rwanda. Gashirabake was released from prison in 2006 after confessing two years earlier to his crimes and revealing to Kabogo — who managed to escape the killing by hiding in a neighbouring marsh land — where the remains of his family were. Two years ago, Kabogo forgave Gashirabake and the neighbours have been business partners since. They are part of a group of 30 people involved in a pig breeding project in Kirehe that was founded by a Japanese volunteer in 2012 and aims at reconciling survivors and perpetrators of the genocide. Gashirabake and Kabogo are convinced that to be successful reconciliation is imperative. Has apologised They earn about $200 per month from the business. Kabogo says what is important now is that Gashirabake has apologised for the crimes he committed. “Reconciliation through poverty reduction is slowly becoming a reality,” Kabogo said. Across the 30 districts in Rwanda are projects supported by both the government and NGOs, which focus on reducing poverty. These include the government-funded Girinka project. Founded in 2006, Girinka distributes cows to vulnerable families in remote rural areas. By last year, about 350,000 people had benefited from the programme. With about 90 per cent of the population relying on agriculture for their survival, the government has adopt- The EastAfrican NEWS APRIL 5-11,2014 GENOCIDE COMMEMORATION Claver Gatete, Rwanda’s Finance Minister. Picture: File ed a number of reforms to ensure that poor households and genocide survivors are supported. The Government Assistance Fund for Genocide Survivors has, since its creation in 1998, has spent $117 million to provide education, health care and housing for vulnerable genocide survivors. The ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) has undertaken reforms, including sound economic programmes. A World Bank report, “Rwanda: Rebuilding an Equitable Society – Poverty Reduction After the Genocide,” showed that about 70 per cent of the country’s 11.5 million people lived below the poverty line in 1993. Four years later, this was reduced to 53 per cent. Latest figures published in the government’s third Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey 2011 show that between 2006 and 2011 a further one million people were lifted out of poverty. Rwanda has been praised by its development partners, including the World Bank, the European Union, and the International Monetary Fund, for these reforms. Rwanda’s economic growth was 4.6 per cent in 2013. “We believe that by having strong partners in the private sector, we will reduce poverty,” said Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Claver Gatete. But there is an consensus that challenges to the country’s economic growth and development remain. Kigali scores highly on growth, but hurdles remain While RPF has been c≥edited with tu≥ning things a≥ound, it has been accused of ≥educing political space By EDMUND KAGIRE The EastAfrican against Tutsi, in which nearly a million people were killed, Rwanda scores highly on its human development indices, but must confront accusations of human rights abuses and intolerance. Rwanda has been praised A for its successful reconstruction, prudent economic policies and ambitious fight against poverty. President Paul Kagame, who has led the country to make this progress, is seen as an astute and modernday African leader. Rwanda’s zealous fight against corruption and its ICT vision have received global plaudits. The capital Kigali has transformed from a dusty town littered with bodies and streams of blood in 1994 to one of the cleanest and safest cities in Africa and the world. But while the ruling Rwan- dan Patriotic Front (RPF) party has been credited with turning things around in the past 20 years, it has been accused of reducing the political space. Both President Kagame and RPF have received as much praise as criticism. The country’s leadership has also come under scrutiny for what the United Nations has described as meddling in the affairs of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as its human rights record, democratic credentials, clamping s it marks the 20th anniversary of the genocide down on the media and being intolerant to dissents, accusations the ruling party dismisses as unfair. Instead, ruling party stal- warts say Rwanda’s democracy and its political path have been shaped and carved out of its past, forging a country that is not built along ethnic lines or confrontational politics similar to those that led to the 1994 genocide. In an interview with The East African, two senior RPF cadres, Tito Rutaremara and Dr Joseph Karemera, said the ruling party and the current leadership had surmounted impossible challenges to put the country where it is today, notwithstanding the criticism. “No other government in the world has done what the RPF has been able to do in a space of 20 years … rebuilding a country that was completely torn apart, returning millions of refugees and resettling them and getting them out of abject poverty,” said Mr Rutaremara. “We built a country out of impossibilities. Rwandans are now one, can access social services, such as health care, education and credit facilities, and have the infrastructure that allows them to carry out their development activities. These are the fundamental rights you give people first,” he added. Dr Karemera, a retired senator and the first Minister of Health after the genocide, defended RPF’s record, saying some of the accusations levelled against Rwanda are A road under construction in Kigali. Rwanda has been praised for its reconstruction, economic policies and fight against poverty. Picture: File in conflict with what Rwandans want. They cite political space as one of the areas where Kigali has been wrongly accused. He gave the example of Opposition politician Victoire Ingabire, whose imprisonment for crimes related to the genocide has been criticised. “This is someone who came here, uttered statements that were likely to set people back into ethnic divisions. Leave that alone, there was incriminating evidence, not from us, some of it obtained from other countries showing that this woman was working with FDLR, a recognised terrorist organisation. How is RPF responsible for (her tribulations)?” Dr Karemera asked. The RPF maintains that there is adequate “political space” for those who want to engage in constructive politics, and cites the close to a dozen political parties that “RPF troops killed civilians. These killings are not comparable to the genocide, but they constituted war crimes.” Daniel Bekele, HRW are operating in the country. However, the country’s major opposition groups mainly operate from outside the country, most of them led by former RPF stalwarts who went into exile after falling out with the system or with President Kagame. The ruling party has been accused of targeting and hunting down its perceived enemies, mainly those in exile. The recent murder of Patrick Karegeya, the former head of external intelligence, in South Africa at the end of 2013, as well as an attempted attack on former Army Chief of Staff Kayumba Nyamwasa, have been blamed on the government. The ruling party’s leader- ship has also been accused of sidelining some of its historicals who disagree with President Kagame. However, Mr Rutaremara insists the party is still guided by its original principles, adding that those who left after disagreements had gone against these principles. “The likes of Kayumba Nyamwasa and Theogene Rudasingwa have themselves to blame because they strayed from the same principles they fought for,” said Rutaremara.
March 31st 2014
April 14th 2014