The Chronicles

Serving Your Right to Know the Truth

Author: Sam Minarick

  • Nayinzira speaks out on his political career

    The name JEAN NÉPOMUSCÈNE NAYINZIRA may not ring a bell to many young Rwandans today. But those familiar with Rwanda’s political field can remember him as one of the three presidential aspirants in the country’s first democratic

    multiparty elections in August 2003 that were crushingly won by the incumbent President Paul Kagame. Nayinzira, now a retired politician, is also a former cabinet minister and founding chair of the Centrist Democratic Party (PDC). During the 2003 elections, he got a paltry 1.3 percent of the votes. The former politician now aged 68 shared his experiences with The Chronicles recently at his home in Bumbogo Sector, Gasabo District.

    Many Rwandans today wonder about your whereabouts since your presidential bid in 2003?
    Jean Nepomuscene Nayinzira: Even in 2010, I had everything in place to present my candidacy (for the presidency), but I didn’t want to encounter the same problem as I did in 2003 where the National Electoral Commission [NEC], and RPF (ruling party) rigged the elections and made me lose.

    You mean in 2003, you were a victim of rigging which prevented you from scooping the presidency?
    Yes, they rigged the votes in 2003.

    You mean the NEC?
    Yes. My election team informed me of everything. It is inexplicable how I got a few votes? Why did they, at one of my campaigns, escort me with policemen who even forbid me from greeting a friend?

    Was this action targeting some candidates only?
    Yes, I only! It happened to me when I was campaigning in my home village in Gisenyi.

    What new ideas would you have brought in the 2010 contest?
    In my opinion, politicians must have the will to share ideas with others and recognise the opposition. You can’t walk using one foot. There must be different ideas in Rwanda.

    Do you believe Rwanda is ruled under the ideas of one person?
    You don’t have eyes to see? Those people living outside the country, aren’t they Rwandans? This is the same problem we had with Habyarimana who used to say refugees had no right to come back to their homeland.

    What about those offered an olive branch to repatriate but have declined to do so?
    You must be joking. Read from different declarations and discussions from different people, and tell me. You should not consider one side but observe ideas from all Rwandans, even those who are critical. In this country, some ideas are not taken into consideration. How can one say that some people are useless? And the justification they give is that some of us have nothing to offer. How? God created everyone with his/her own gift and we complement each other.

    Who do you presuppose undermines other people’s ideas in Rwanda?
    After the 1994 Tutsi Genocide, all parties were represented in cabinet except those from MRND and others who destroyed our country. But are the rest still together?

    Who do you mean?
    For example in my case, I created PDC but people manipulated me and benefited from it…..I mean Alfred Mukezamfura and Agnes Mukabaranga. I decided to leave the party to them. Mukezamfura was lucky to be appointed as Speaker of Chamber of Deputies. And where is he now? Wasn’t he condemned to life imprisonment? And Senator Agnes Mukabaranga, the actual chairperson, she is just struggling. I can’t confirm that she will remain in the helm. Yes they expelled me, yet what I did was not null and void because I helped them grow but I don’t regret it.

    What interest did your party members have in shunning you?
    Interest? They have put me in conflict with RPF. The problem I had with RPF is that they couldn’t let me bring in my ideas. You can’t condemn me into a nursery school, I, Nayinzira, at this age and you tell me to repeat the alphabet… A, B, C…I was born free!

    Someone belittled you?
    What do you think?

    In which form?
    How can you ask me such a question? Someone would try force me to embrace his ideas and then hinder me from bringing out my own views, pretending that I am abusing him.

    Since the Forum for Political Parties resolves such wrangles, do you think that at the time you encountered problems, it would have made a difference?
    No, since 1994, we used to discuss issues as Members of Parliament despite our parties affiliation. But RPF would validate polices, and no one could oppose. But I don’t look at things from one side. I remember what (Ugandan President Yoweri) Museveni told (former President Juvenal) Habyarimana once in a meeting; that he needed RPF members to ensure a strong rule.

    You mean RPF has a strong ruling system?
    Trust me; they have a peculiarity that Museveni talked about at one time. He told Habyarimana, “let these people repatriate. They have business and diplomatic expertise”. Really RPF performs well in those domains. But Kayibanda and Habyarimana’s regime did not have an open mind, no friends, but RPF has. They were good at other things but not at business and diplomacy. Another aspect RPF has fared well in is land registration. During the National Dialogue, they announced its successful completion. They’ve indeed ran the government the European way. I went to pick my land title deed. It is a good thing. The only problem with the party is its monopolistic characteristics. RPF imports and exports, they have business entities which are based on the party; everything is for and from them.

    Can we blame the ruling party if it is blessed with business-savvy members?
    We have, in Rwanda, what we call savage capitalism. It means that some people grow richer when many others grow poor.

    Since your failed Presidential bid in 2003, what have you been doing?
    Now I have got another choice from Heaven’s order. Someone came and told me God wanted me to serve Him. I am now in the service of God. I had got an apparition ofMary who left me with a heavenly photo. There are many signs here than there are at Kibeho.

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  • First civilian FERWAFA boss since 1994

    Since 1994, the country’s football governing body has always been headed by one of the top military brass, until recently when the monotony was broken. For the first time, a civilian, Celestin Ntagungira aka Abega, took over as the president of FERWAFA. Abega replaced Brig. Gen. Jean Bosco Kazura who resigned toward the end of last year amid claims of mismanagement and a host of Amavubi underperformance.
    To football fans, that came as a surprise.
    Political influence in sports in most countries around the world has always resulted in poor performance, yet such political connection necessary to open doors for policy and financial support.
    Yet, if the sport is left to real sportsmen and women, fans cannot be blamed when they raise their ante and demand the success of their teams in the playing field.
    Was Abega the right man for the job? True. Abega, 45, married with three children has been around football and football administration for long. In1997 he became a CAF/FIFA international referee overseeing many matches internationally
    Being around the sport since the early 1990’s, having experience in national and international refereeing, being acknowledgeable about local administrative problems and being aware of CAF/FIFA rules qualifies Celestin Ntagungira to head FERWAFA. Through his intimate knowledge of the game, we believe he can lead to a turnaround of the country’s soccer.

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  • Cut on fuel prices offers glimmer of hope

    While government announced price cuts on fuel, figures released by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), show that inflation is still on the rise.

    The drop in fuel prices also comes as a glimmer of hope, a week after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned the country’s inflation could rise higher if structural reforms are not stepped up.

    Despite many Rwandan farmers enjoying a bumper harvest last year thanks to structural reforms and large investments in agriculture, consumers were still paying high prices because of slightly higher transportation costs as revealed in NISR’s Consumer Price Index (CPI).

    This prompted government last week to seal the price of petrol in Kigali not exceed Rwf940 per litre, down from Rwf1000, with the price of diesel reducing too.

    According to the CPI released recently, food, transport and energy prices went up in different towns in Rwanda by end of year pushing the year-on-year urban inflation to 8.34 percent from 7.39 percent in November.

    “Food and non-alcoholic beverage prices, which have a 35.38 percent, weighing on the urban index, were up 11.22 percent over the same month a year before, and down by 0.53 percent from November,” the NISR said.

    The index has also shown that housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels index was up 6.81 percent year-on-year, while the transport index rose 9.12 percent.

    Despite the rise in figures, Rwanda has had a better run than other countries in East Africa, including Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, where inflation is in double-digits. However, the IMF has warned that despite the economy being poised for high growth in 2011, inflation could rise, with elevated risks in 2012.

    “While strong agricultural output and exports are driving high real gross domestic product (GDP) growth, aggregate demand pressures are also building up and have already pushed up core inflation,” Naoyuki Shinohara, IMF’s Deputy Managing Director said recently in the statement.

    “The (Rwandan) authorities have begun to tighten monetary policy in late 2011 to contain inflation. However, further tightening may be needed in 2012 to prevent the erosion of recent gains in macroeconomic stability.Growth is expected to slow in 2012, although risks from an uncertain global economy and further price shocks could bring lower growth and higher inflation. Structural reforms efforts will have to be stepped up to boost growth prospects,” he added.

    As a move to curb inflationary pressures, government last week announced cuts on fuel prices honouring the 2011-12 budget pledge to cut taxes on fuel this fiscal year, to help ease inflationary pressures.

    A statement from the Ministry of Trade and Industry released last week said starting 16th January, pump prices would be slashed by Rwf60 per litre. According to the ministry, the price of petrol in Kigali must not exceed Rwf940 per litre, down from Rwf1,000, with the price of diesel reducing by the same fraction, also down to Rwf940.

    “The reduction was made possible mainly due to the government’s decision to, once again, reduce taxes on fuel products with effect from January 16, 2012,” the statement said.

    Though some skeptics believe the price cut will have some marginal effect on the economy, others are optimistic it is good for consumer sentiment. Experts believe the fuel cuts are a good signal for any market economy where reduction in global crude oil prices should be followed by a corresponding reduction in prices of fuel in the domestic market.

    Ministry officials have explained to The Chronicles that with a relatively strong franc and lower prices of international crude oil in future, revellers, consumers and transporters could benefit from further fuel cuts.

    The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency boss Regis Gatarayiha was quoted in the press saying that following the fuel price cuts, the regulatory body was set to review transport fares.

    “We are reviewing the fares along with transport companies and we are doing (this) very fast as we expect to announce the findings very soon.”

    Lower fuel prices and a controlled inflation could boost Rwanda’s economy which central bank had projected late last month that it could expand to 7.6 percent by the end of 2012 after a registered growth of 8.8 percent in 2011.

    Governor Claver Gatete also said that the country’s inflation if all economic trends remained constant is likely to come to 7.5 percent in 2012 after benefiting from single-digit inflation and a more stable currency than most of the struggling East African neighbors.

    These projections though NBR cautioned would depend on a number of factors, some of which include the prevailing euro zone debt crisis, higher oil prices and a weaker dollar IMF said would only be achieved if appropriate structural reforms are put in place.

    “In light of significant risks in the global economic environment that could adversely impact Rwanda’s exports and international reserves, the central bank should avoid any further encumbering of the central bank’s foreign assets as collateral for loans to finance the government’s strategic investments,” IMF said.

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