The Chronicles

Serving Your Right to Know the Truth

  • UK MP in land wrangles with local NGO

    An initiative by the United Kingdom (UK) Member of Parliament (MP), Brooks Newmark to assist vulnerable Rwandan children acquire education has taken a bitter and acrimonious turn. Now the lawmaker, who got involved on humanitarian grounds and the local NGO catering for the children known as Girubuntu Education Center are fighting over ownership of the school.

    In 2007, Hon Newmark visited Rwanda to work on a social action project at Girubuntu Primary School. Together with a team from the UK Conservative Party, Newmark helped to refurbish the school for 80 children, building a new classroom, installing electricity and carrying out various other renovations.

    However, the school was later closed by Gasabo District officials for being substandard. When Newmark learnt about the closure, he proposed to construct more classrooms for the school. As a result, Newmark registered an NGO called A Partner in Education (APIE) with Kitty Llewellyn, another British national in 2009. Together, they began working towards a new vision for Girubuntu primary school – resulting in constructing modern ten classroom blocks, a stocked library and a football pitch.

    On behalf of the parliamentarian, Llewellyn is said to have purchased a piece of land worth Rwf 20million in Niboye sector, Kicukiro district from a man identified as Yusuf Kubwimana . The agreement of the transaction which is in hands of the Kicukiro district identifies MP Brooks Newmark as the buyer of the land and Mr. Eugene Rudasingwa, the founder of Girubuntu as a witness to the transaction.

    However when it came to the requisition of a construction permit, the district told Newmark’s representatives that the land would be registered as a commercial usage asset, if it is registered in an individual’s names. This meant that if the land construction permit was to be issued in the names of Newmark, he would be charged taxes yet the land was for social usage hence, his representatives opted to have the construction permit in the names of APIE.

    In a twist of events, during her visit to Rwanda Joanna Mannand Pippa Richards who was at the helm of APIE at the time, donated the land to the Girubuntu group. According to the document of the donation signed between her and Mr. Rudasingwa Eugene, she requested the district officials to transfer ownership of the land and the property thereof from the names of Brooks Newmark to Girubuntu Education Centre.

    As a result, according to Kicukiro District Mayor, Mr. Paul Jules Ndamage is what led to the sector and the national land offices to process land documents in the name of Girubuntu. Mr. Ndamage told The Chronicles, “It is not clear how Joanna got to donate something that she does not own without the authorisation from the owner of the property who in light [of] available documentation is MP Newmark”.

    Controversy arose when Newmark started claiming that he wanted the transfer of ownership of land and property from Girubuntu to his name.
    When The Chronicles contacted the founder of Girubuntu Education Center who also signed as a witness during the purchase of the land on which Girubuntu Education Centre seats by Brooks Newmark, Eugene Rudasingwa confirmed the development saying that indeed, Newmark and APIE have a problem to solve.

    Mr. Rudasingwa added, “The school started in 1998 to help the least advantaged children. We sought support for the school until in 2007 when MP Brooks Newmark through his organisation APIE decided to support us. After taking on the new property in July 2011, we have tried to survive all the odds and for sure we are not complaining”. Rudasingwa went on “I have nothing against Newmark. I am just protecting the children, I am open to any decision as long as we keep the children in school studying and not deprived of the privilege they have and if there is any complaint that Brooks [has], it should be taken to the concerned parties not to me”.

    Rudasingwa pointed out that at one point, he wanted the misunderstanding to be solved through arbitration but the British lawmaker refused; he later proposed to enter into a partnership arrangement but still the lawmaker refused claiming that all he wanted was to have the land registered in his name.

    Efforts to contact Newmark through emails were fruitless as he did not respond to the emails sent to him. When The Chronicles contacted Llewellyn, a co-founder of APIE, via email, she only responded saying, “Please hold off writing anything until you have spoken to a member of APIE. Newmark will call you.” However, by press time, four days later, Newmark had not called. When we contacted Kate Hannon, a member of APIE based in Rwanda she refused to comment.

    “I am sorry I am not authorized to speak for Newmark and I can’t give you his mobile number, because I do not see anything to comment about the situation” said Hannon. In a latest development, the Mayor of Kicukiro District Paul Jules Ndamage recently called for a crisis resolution meeting which was attended by Rudasingwa and Hannon. After the meeting, the mayor announced that he had established an interim leadership of the school and transition period of three months to determine the fate of the situation.

    “The District has appointed Juvenal Muhire as the current headmaster of the school; Girubuntu is to appoint the deputy headmaster in charge of academic affairs while APIE will have to produce the deputy headmaster in charge of Finance and administration,” said Ndamage. He added that; “the case is now being handled by the ministry of justice and that Mr.[Hon] Tharcisse Karugarama might have already come up with the solution”. However, according to the mayor all lights are green for Mr. Brooks. “All the earlier documents reveal that the school’s property belongs to Newmark and [I don’t know] what those who issued the documentations in the names of Girubuntu based on”, the mayor commented.

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  • Patrice Mulama relieved of his duties at Media High Council Staff Writer

    The Executive Secretary of the Media High Council (MHC) Mr. Patrice Mulama has been relieved of his duties at the institution. Explaining the reasons for his removal, the chairman of the MHC Mr. Arthur Assimwe stated in a message to The chronicles, “Mulama was a senior government official

    and as you know government has the prerogative power to appoint, reshuffle or fire any of its officials if need arises. Therefore, within its mandate, the government made changes in [the] MHC in which Mulama has been given temporary leave and a new acting Executive Secretary has been appointed. All these changes are aimed at re-energising the institution and ensuring it meets its mandate”

    When we pressed Mr. Assimwe further to give concrete reasons for the removal of Mr. Mulama from his position, he again referred us back to the same statement. However, The Chronicles has reliably learnt that the removal of Mr. Mulama is related to the arrest in November last year of three journalists by the police.

    Multiple sources intimately familiar with the decision but who preferred anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter told The Chronicles that after the arrest of Mr. Joseph Bideri, the former Managing Director of The New Times, Jean Gualbert Burasa of Rushyashya and Rene Anthere Rwanyange, the MHC wrote a letter to the Inspector-General of Police condemning the arrest. The letter was copied to a number of government institutions, including the office of the president.

    The problem, according to our highly placed sources is that while government was also unhappy that the journalists had been arrested, a decision had been taken then to resolve the matter internally without any press releases but this was not entirely respected. At the time, the MHC wanted to write a press release but refrained following this decision and instead wrote the letter. By writing the letter and copying it to different authorities, according to our sources, Mr. Mulama went against the advice of his line minister and the aforementioned decision. The Ministry for Cabinet affairs headed by Hon. Protais Musoni oversees media affairs.

    When contacted, the chairman of the MHC could neither deny nor confirm this. When The Chronicles called Mr. Patrice Mulama, he confirmed he had been removed from his position but declined to give any details or reasons for his sacking. He simply said, ‘The chairman can confirm on what the reasons are”. When we inquired whether his removal is related to the letter he wrote to the Commissioner General of Police, he stated: “I have no idea, it would be better if you referred that to the chairman”.

    Mr. Mulama has been the executive secretary of the MHC since its birth in 2003. The new acting Executive Secretary is Mr. Emmanuel Mugisha who has been the director of Media Development at the same institution. Prior to that, Mr. Mugisha was a legal advisor in the same institution. He holds a degree in law from the National University of Rwanda.

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  • Why Kagame should invite Judge Bruguière

    Why Kagame should invite Judge Bruguière for a thank you cup of café after getting his heroes’ medal from Museveni
    As a country, we seem to live in very interesting and happier times. And President Paul Kagame must be a very happy and satisfied man these days. These two sentence statements came from an acquaintance. When I asked why, he wondered whether I know the implications of the findings in the Trévidic report and whether I was aware that President Kagame is scheduled to receive a heroes medal from President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda for his contribution to NRM/A’s five year ‘liberation’ war.
    Upon reflection, my acquaintance has a good point informed by historical facts. A few years ago, Rwanda was at the brink of war with Uganda following the two countries’ armies’ bitterly clashing on three different occasions in DRC’s Kisangani City between August 1999 and 2000. Just less than three years ago, Rwanda and France had severed all diplomatic relations.

    As a follow up to the Kisangani debacle in which the ICG estimates six hundred soldiers and civilians to have perished, each country, as recently as early last year, was accusing the other of supporting each other’s dissidents. Almost all major Rwandan dissidents in recent times, including Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa and Patrick Karegeya were reported by the media to have transited through Uganda with the support of senior officials in that country. Media reports also suggested that the Museveni government believed that Rwanda was financing Dr Kizza Besigye’s campaigns in the 2006 and 2011 elections to defeat their man.

    Now, all of a sudden, Presidents Kagame and Museveni are so much in love that each cannot visit the other’s capital without icing it with lunch, dinner and breakfast at the other’s country home. Last December, President Kagame spent Christmas Holiday at Museveni’s village home at Rwakitura, Western Uganda. In August last year, Museveni was here and spent two days at Kagame’s home at Muhazi. To top this up, media reports now suggest that Kagame has been invited to NRM’s liberation celebrations where he will be awarded a heroes medal on January 26 for his role in the NRM five year war and eventual capture of state power.

    How was it possible for Kagame to turn bitter foes into bosom friends? How did he manage to convince France to talk on equal terms following the humiliation of their ambassador who was given marching orders upon Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière indictment of nine former senior RPA and now RDF officers in 2006? Or how did Museveni and France manage to convince Kagame to talk peace?
    To understand how Kagame managed to turn foes into friends or vice versa, one needs to comprehend Rwanda’s strategy in its relations with both countries. Evidence suggests that she combined both hard and soft power to win the respect of both countries and their leaders; at least some of the leaders.
    For starters, Rwanda and Uganda are not really enemies. The peoples of the two countries share long historical, social and economic ties. Also, a lot has been said and written about Uganda’s role in RPA/F’s four year struggle just as the contribution of Rwandese in NRM/A struggle is well known. There is no doubt that Uganda and President Museveni in particular played a critical role in RPF’s victory than any other country or leader.
    The reason this history is important to recount here is not to reignite sad memories. It’s to ensure we know how we got here; what it took and what it takes or might require in the future remaining a respected people and country. It’s also to show how respected countries are built and sustainable mutual relations between countries forged.

    With France, it is a well know fact within the political and diplomatic circles that Paris, from the day the RPF/A captured state power and defeated its ally, the FAR, it used different tools to undermine it; ranging from attempting diplomatic isolation to undermining the country’s ability to attract aid.
    It has also been said variously by different leaders in Rwanda that France was using justice to intimidate, and silence Kigali or deflect attention from its role in the 1994. The Bruguière report of 2006 that ended in indicting nine senior RDF officers is largely seen in this light.

    On his part, Kagame refused to be intimidated and called France’s bluff. First, in reaction to the indictment, the French ambassador was expelled and their embassy closed. Secondly, the Mucyo Commission was set up to investigate France’s role in the genocide. This closed with the naming of 33 senior military officials and political leaders, including current foreign minister Alain Juppe. The Mutsinzi Commission was also set up that closed with the finding that the plane that was carrying Habyarimana was brought down by a missile from Kanombe Military barracks then controlled by Habyarimana forces. If France did not reconsider its stand, it is thought her officials would be indicted too.

    Combining diplomatic, political and judicial offensive, and publicising it must have humbled the French establishment or some of it. As a consequence, France, under Nicolas Sarkozy agreed to talk instead of plotting and fighting. With Uganda, it is probable that the gist of the problem was Ugandan officials’ failure to recognise that while some Rwandese were in their army as junior officers, upon return home, they had grown up to become generals and leaders of a sovereign nation that deserved respect. It is widely known that some Ugandan senior military officials such as the late Maj. Gen James Kazini used to refer to Rwandan senior officials as ‘corporal’.

    In this climate of disrespect, something had to be done. Either the RPF/RPA had to accept the inferior position or they had to assert their equality and even superiority. This is partly what was done and achieved in Kisangani. As former US president Woodrow Wilson said many years ago, the best and durable agreement is one between equals. President Kagame will be travelling to Kampala to pick his heroes’ medal from his former mentor, not as an inferior, but an equal; an accomplished and tested general and head of a respected state.

    Likewise, in the years to come, he will sit down with French officials, including Sarkozy, not as an inferior but a leader of a respectable country with interests to pursue and protect. In that sense, Bruguière will go down in history, not as the man who helped France silence Rwanda over its role in the genocide, but as the judge who handed Kagame the weapon to downsize the French ego and assumptions about its superiority and in the process establishing relations based on mutual respect.

    With this outcome, and politics being what it is─with no assured permanent friends or enemies, it would perhaps be worth Kagame inviting Bruguière for a thank you cup of café at Village Urugwiro! And in Uganda, no one will say Kagame has fluked the heroes’ medal, for he is not only among the original 27 members of the NRA war, fighting and rising to become Uganda’s chief of military intelligence, but he reconfirmed his military credentials as an accomplished general in Kisangani.

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