“When I asked Kagame about the beatings, he leaned toward me in his seat. We were about three feet apart, then two. I could see the individual gray hairs in his goatee. He didn’t interrupt as I detailed my evidence, with names and dates. He didn’t deny physically abusing his staff, as I thought he might, though he gave me a watered-down version of the 2009 event that Himbara described, saying that he hadn’t swatted anyone with a stick but shoved one of the men so hard that he fell to the floor,”
That is what Jeffrey Gettleman, the East Africa bureau chief for The New York Times, said in his article published on September 4, 2013 (see the article here). He was reporting on his recent trip to Rwanda and his meeting with the Rwandan most powerful man, General Paul Kagame.
In the interview, the New York Times journalist described the two faces of General Paul Kagame, viewed by some in the West as a reformer, but widely viewed by the rest, especially Rwandans and neighbors, as a tyrannical leader who does not hesitate to crush his perceived opponents, is insecure, and is quick to use violence when faced with difficulty or challenges or to achieve his goals.
General Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former companion of General Paul Kagame and former Rwandan Military chief of staff, now in exile, put it bluntly: “During war, a lot of things go wrong. But Kagame always reacts with violence. He’s spiteful. His own troops were scared of him and actually hated him.” According to General Nyamwasa, General Paul Kagame tried to kill him, even in his exile in South Africa.
According to the New York times journalists, the portraits of Kagame, rather the huge and highly polished posters in all the government offices, public places, malls and shops, and private residences tell all: the cult of General Paul Kagame’s personality has reached unparalleled proportions.
General Paul Kagame justifies spending nights in $15,000 a night hotel rooms while on trips abroad, in a country where an average worker ears $1.50 per day; he admits to the fact that the Tutsi minority monopolizes the government and all the institutions and businesses, he calls his opponents thieves, and he does not apologize for beating his closest aids and advisers, only observing that it is not “sustainable”.
One closest aid and former Private Advisor, now in exile is David Himbara, who holds a PhD from Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada and who observed beatings and said: “After I once wrote a speech for him to give, he said to me: ‘You think because you have a Ph.D. from Canada you are smarter than me? You are a peasant! You go and read the stupid speech!’ And then I would have to say: ‘No, sir, you are the president, and in my hands it is a stupid peasant product. But in your hands it is something special.’ That’s how we had to flatter and appease him,… It was crazy.”
But, all cannot be negative. Perhaps for the first time, General Paul Kagame admits to making mistakes and abusing power: “It’s my nature … I can be very tough, I can make mistakes like that.” But, he hints at staying in power for a little longer, even when his term expires. This would mean a little modification of the Rwandan constitution to accommodate his desires. Those who tried to challenge that assumption paid the price. Se=, he will stay in power (see Rwandan Justice Minister, Tharcisse Karugarama, Dropped From Government After Criticizing General Kagame of May 25, 2013)
Regarding being a tyrant and an oppressor, General Paul Kagame told the New York Times journalist:
“I have all these names associated with me, …, some of which I accept, others which are not fair … God created me in a very strange way.”
The article is titled The Global Elite’s Favorite Strongman, published by New Yorks Times on September 4, 2013 and written by Jeffrey Gettleman, the East Africa bureau chief for The New York Times (click here to access the original article).
©2013 AfroAmerica Network