The Chronicles

Serving Your Right to Know the Truth

  • RPF not interested in third term – Senator Tito Rutaremara

    The ruling party, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) has finally offered to give its official position in the ongoing serialisation of the third term debate and the possibility of amending the constitution to allow president Kagame to stand again as called for by Minister Musa Fazil Harerimana. In an exclusive interview with The Chronicles touching on a range of issues on January 3, 2012, one of the party’s high level officials and founders, Senator Tito Rutaremara emphasised that the party is against the amendment of the constitution to delete term limits or to introduce a third term to allow president Kagame to stand again.

    “When we have a constitution written by people, debated by people, voted by people and passed by people, in order to change it you have to have a very serious reason,” observed Senator Tito adding that the only think that would call for prolonging President Kagame’s stay in office after his current second and last constitution term is if the country was at war and no time to organize elections.

    He noted, “For instance, if we are at a war and we don’t have time to go to elections, then we can let him go on. That is one of the reasons”. The former Ombudsman, who is also the Commissioner for communication and media within the RPF added that even if his party wanted the constitution changed to introduce a third term, they would not use PDI or any other political party.

    The senator went on, “[Some] people.. are saying we are using PDI to change the constitution...No, what RPF says it does it. You understand? We don’t fear! When we said we are going to attack to liberate the country... we did it. When we said we are going to chase president Habyarimana…we did it! And we said we are going to change the politics of this country and we did [it]! What we really say we are going to do we do it, because we don’t hide. Now if we are to do it [change the constitution]... why should we use PDI? No”. We can’t use another party... We can’t do that”

    RFP’s rebuttal is in response to the claim by FDU-Inkingi of embattled Victoire Ingabire that it was using PDI and Minister Fazil to engineer changing the constitution to introduce a third term for president Kagame. Boniface Twagirimana, the FDU-Inkingi vice president told The Chronicles on December 07, that Sheikh Harerimana’s call for the third term “is a strategy” used “by RPF members…because they are ashamed to say it under the RPF umberella”. Tito also asserts that RPF initially did not want to enter into the third term fray but was keeping tabs with the debate in the media after PDI’s chairman and Minister of Internal Security, Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana had told The Chronicles that his party wished to amend the constitution to allow President Kagame to stand for a third term.

    In the same interview, minister Fazil said that his PDI had written to each party in the forum for political parties to back the proposal. Some parties we have interviewed acknowledged that they had received the letter. For instance, Phoebe Kanyange, the chairperson of PSP admitted to The Chronicles that her party had read the letter, but suggested that PDI instead should have sent their proposition to parliament for discussions. Senator Rutaremara however says that his party knows nothing about the letter.

    RPF needs no outsider to act on its behalf Instead, Tito says RPF has its unique and well known means of introducing policy and making decisions right from the village level to the national level, where the party’s general assembly validates it before taking the resolution to a referendum. “That is how we do things, when we say something we do it and when we do it, 99 percent of the time, we succeed. Why should we use PDI? Are they more (influential) than RPF?” he poses.

    Moreover, the former Ombudsman reminds of the president’s statement at the 11th RPF congress on December 17 when he said he did not want to keep repeating himself in answering the media, saying that he is not interested in standing for the third term, because, even whe he clearly states his stand, the media gets it wrong.

    Kagame doesn’t lie When we asked Rutaremara whether he believes that Kagame may change his stated stand regarding term limits and his wish to stand down after his current second term expires in 2017, he said: “The president? I have worked with president since 1986 and I know that he means what he says. I remember when the interahamwe were five kms from the border in Goma. He asked the international community to disarm them and if you are not doing it, we are coming to attack because it was something big, they were there [ready] to attack. The international did nothing and we went there! So imagine if he challenged the whole world, why should he hide for a few Rwandans, 11 millions. Why should he [be] hiding [that he wants a third term]?

    Who will succeed Kagame and is Tito ready to take the mantle? If President Kagame does not carry on as head of state after 2017, Rutaremara believes RPF would have other competent candidates. “We have so many people in RPF but we can even have other good names in other party among 11 million Rwandans”. However, Tito declined to name who he thinks might be qualified to succeed president Kagame saying that if he did so, it would be interpreted as if he is campaigning for that person.

    When asked whether he was ready and considering to run for president, he answered: “…I can’t [stand for president] because this country needs young people and there are many young people, new blood in this country, I can use my wisdom in other [ways]”. Rutaremara also underscores that RPF believes in institutions and not individuals, adding, “The structures will remain for more than 200 years, but we will never create a president who will remain for 200 years. We are not God,” he stresses.

    The RPF founder member also talked about a range of other issues, including the fight against corruption in Rwanda, who might succeed him as the ombudsman among other issues.

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  • DR Congo Government – FDLR agreement draws Kigali ire

    A deal being negotiated between the FDLR rebels and the DR Congo government risks unravelling gains painfully made over the years as the international community attempts to put a lid on conflicts within the Great Lakes region.

    The Chronicles can exclusively reveal that the DR Congo government has, since early last year, been holding secret talks with the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) – some of whose members are wanted in Rwanda for genocide related charges. Its leaders also face different international courts over war crimes. Leading the DR Congo delegation is Major General Dieudonné Amuli — the ex-coordinator of Operation Amani Leo, which aimed at flashing out the rebels, and FDLR deputy executive secretary “Lieutenant Colonel” Wilson Irategera for the FDLR delegation.

    The talks have been ongoing since February last year, and a “preliminary ceasefire agreement” was concluded on March 17. The dilemma however, is that neither the Government of Rwanda nor senior FDLR officers want anything to do with discussion. And the two sides have what could only be described as impossible demands by the other.

    Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Ministry (MINAFFET), essentially, the country’s window to the outside world, tells The Chronicles that it is not aware of any agreement but actually termed the FDLR a “genocidaire militia”.

    Details of the talks are contained in the latest UN report submitted Friday, December 30, 2011, to the Security Council by the UN Group of Experts on DRC. The talks have a facilitator but the name and signature of the individual have deliberately been erased from the agreement – probably by the UN team itself.

    The “preliminary agreement” includes a commitment by FDLR to disarm and regroup all its combatants and dependants in a secure zone between 150 and 300 km from the Rwandan border, where they would settle and transform into a political movement.

    The DRC Government would guarantee the safety of FDLR combatants and grant asylum to those seeking refugee status. The preliminary agreement also underlined the necessity of involvement on the part of the international community.

    The UN mission in DRC (MONUSCO) estimates that FDLR combatants do not exceed 3,000 in number, while Rwandan intelligence services presented the UN Group of investigators with a figure of 4,355 - including more than 2,000 in South Kivu alone. In its estimates, the UNHCR says there are probably about 10,000 Rwanda refugees living in the areas controlled by the rebels.

    Rwanda indifferent In Kigali, however, any mention of talks with the FDLR has been received with outright hostility. According to the UN report, DRC did take “steps to reassure” the Rwandan Government about this process, but Kigali has “remained remarkably silent on the issue”.

    Foreign Affairs Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo told The Chronicles on Thursday last week that she was “not aware of such an Agreement”. In rejoinder to our request for comment, the Minister demonstrated a strong show of dislike for the whole idea of talks.

    “...you can be sure that any move to rehabilitate members of FDLR from a genocidaire militia to anything else, including signing anything other than their arrest warrants, will be strongly opposed by my Government,” said Mushikiwabo, in a brief response from her BlackBerry phone.

    By press time, we had not been able to speak to the DRC envoy in Kigali as his known cell phone was off.

    “Spoilers” Despite muted objections to some of the 11 articles in the preliminary agreement by some quarters, the FDLR current executive secretary Ndagijimana has remained the most actively involved in the negotiations with the Kinshasa Government, according to MONUSCO sources. The official call record obtained by the UN investigators shows that between March and August 2011, Ndagijimana exchanged 202 text messages with the principal facilitator Maj Gen Amuli by satellite telephone alone.

    To the FDLR negotiators, this could be a godsend to regain the completely lost international credibility, which has left them vilified from all corners of the global due to the alleged crimes they have committed in the DRC. But to FDLR’s top two most senior commanders, any talks without Kigali’s involvement is meaningless.

    The two men whom the UN describes as “spoilers” are “Lieutenant General” Sylvestre Mudacumura - the current FDLR supreme leader and his deputy “General” Gaston “Rumuli” Iyamuremye. These men, whose photos have never been published in the media, nor held any interviews, limit defections from the militia group by coercive means. The world only largely knows of the two men through defectors.

    According to UN investigators, the talks with DRC seem to have lost momentum, mainly because of objections from Iyamuremye and Mudacumura regarding the process, as it requires commencement of disarmament. During a vote on 29 June, the FDLR senior officers are said to have opposed this DRC Government’s proposal.

    Congo Government

    UN investigators say while Mudacumura fears international justice, other “spoilers” have emerged following information leaks regarding the process. The political leader of FDLR’ splinter group Ralliement pour l’unité et la démocratie (RUD)-Urunana, Dr. Félicien Kanyamibwa, also rejected the negotiations, suggesting that Rwanda had to be involved. Details about Kanyamibwa, who lives in the United States, are published in our previous issue No 12.

    Talks...? You must be joking! It is not the first time something like a negotiated end to FDLR’s rebel activities have come to light. Court documents presented in Germany at the ongoing trial of its leaders Dr. Ignace Murwanashyaka and Straton Musoni show that the militia group has deliberately targeted civilians to cause the humanitarian catastrophe. The thinking is that eventually, the international community will force Rwanda to negotiate with the rebels, say prosecutors.

    The current claimed DRC plan, which has been rejected before by Rwanda, is such that the rebels who choose to return home would be facilitated to do so, whereas those who turn down repatriation would be relocated to a Congolese area far away from the two countries’ common border.

    Kigali insists that relocating the rebels within Congo cannot deter them from destabilising Rwanda. At some point, government termed the suggestion that FDLR would disarm voluntarily as a fantasy. Rwanda wants them simply rounded up and deported to Kigali.

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  • Rwanda Targets US$800m investment in 2012

    RWANDA Development Board’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), Clare Akamanzi (pictured) says the interests of investors attracted to do business in Rwanda should not compromise the government’s vision.

    Instead, according to her, investors have an interest in supporting the vision. The Chronicles’ David Kezio-Musoke and Magnus Mazimpaka talked to her about a wide-range of issues including this year’s investments targets. Below are the excerpts.

    The Chronicles: Let us talk about investments in general. Did you achieve your targets in 2011? Clare Akamanzi: The year 2011 was satisfactory. In 2010, we attracted US$390 million. In 2011 we targeted investments worth US$550 million. However by the end of the year, we had registered US$626 million. These were investment deals closed over that period. We passed our target by US$76 million. Our biggest attraction was from tourism, Information Communication Technology (ICT) followed by energy and then agriculture in that order. ICT was on top mainly because of the entrance of BhartiAirtel. Energy was also top because of a deal with a Danish company to produce energy. Last year, we also attracted some pretty good investments from agriculture. We registered a project from a Canadian company to grow Stevia, which is a plant used to process a sweetener like sugar. Stevia is for export and this project is in Rulindo.

    When you give these figures, are they investments attracted or investments that actually kicked off? These are investment deals that were closed. Actually in 2012, we want to make sure that when investors register and promise a certain kind of investment, they can actually deliver on their promises. However, within the course of this year, we shall be able to sit with the National Bank of Rwanda and National Institute of Statistics to track the actual investments that kicked off.

    What about forecast for 2012, what is your target for this year? We are revising our 2012 target upwards because we exceeded the 2011 target. We think we can reach US$800 million this year but will announce the figures once we have finalised.

    To some people, this figure seems unrealistic. What parameters do you use to come up with these estimates? First and foremost, we want investments to be 30 percent of GDP by 2020. Today, investments attract about 22 percent of GDP and since in 2005 it was just 16 percent that is growth. We look at all national targets, like say EDPRS, and we work backwards on what we need to achieve for each year. We know where we want to go and we know where we come from and we see what is realistic.

    There is a feeling that you concentrate on attracting foreign investments and ignore attracting local ones. I think that is an assumption. For us at RDB, local investments are equally as important as foreign investment. They both bring something on board. Last year in 2011, about 56 percent of the 139 projects registered were Rwandan investments. The strength is that we get to have more Rwandan projects. Foreign projects bring in higher value because they have access to more capital. Last year alone, foreign projects accounted for 68 percent of the value. We attracted US$626 million in 2011 of which US$372 million was the value of foreign investments (excluding EAC) and US$199 million was value of Rwandan investments.

    With a struggling global economy, you still managed to surpass your 2011 target by US$76 million. What was the magic? At global level, the economy is not healthy. So, because of this, investors are looking to enter new markets and Africa offers that. In Africa, there are more opportunities because our economies are still growing and are not as exhaustive. In other African countries, IMF expects exponential growth. And this is not growth you will witness in other parts of the world. So Africa is becoming more attractive. Rwanda’s continuous work to have a more attractive outlook makes us a preferred destination for investors. Look at our investment climate and our sovereign rating, the latest from ‘Standard and Poors’, Rwanda was rated with a ‘B’ but with a more positive outlook. This shows a high level of optimism about investing in a country like Rwanda.

    What is RDB doing to make sure this kind growth is sustained, more especially on the side of investments? We have developed a rapid economic growth strategy. We have re-aligned the way we work with Singapore, a country we want to pick lessons from. During the course of 2011, our senior management visited Singapore with the purpose of learning from them. They also visited Rwanda. With the economic growth strategy, every department in RDB promotes investments. It is no longer one single department doing investment promotions. For example, ICT promotes investments in ICT and so does the tourism department. This increases the effort of investment promotion. We have also developed a systematic way of attracting investments called the cluster approach. With this approach, each department identifies four key projects and concentrates on these. For example, ICT has chosen mobile phone applications, cloud computing, ICT education and ICT security. So, this department will ask pertinent questions like; Do we have the right infrastructure in place for applications? Do we have the right equipment for cloud computing? And if we don’t, we procure it. For ICT security, we look at which country does this best. So if this is country like India, we target it. We also look at Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). If we know a country like Philippines is good at this, we visit it.This is a systematic approach that is very successful in countries like Singapore. It is very measurable. This year, we are adding more focus on ‘after care’. When an investor registers our departments, we make a follow-up to make sure their needs are attended to.

    Talking about ICTs, what happened to the Kigali Wibro and National Data centre? Both are actually operational. We created a company called Broadband Systems Corporation that runs all government ICT projects and they include those two and National Backbone (fibre optics). Sometimes, government invests in such projects for services to be available and accessible for all Rwandans, in all the 30 districts. It’s not easy for a private company to invest in ICT infrastructure that covers the whole country; so government comes forward. Our expectation is that once these companies are up and running smoothly we can then be able to privatize them.

    How does RDB draw the line between the interests of the country and those of the investor? First of all, there is no contradiction between what government wants and what the investor wants. We shouldn’t make assumptions on this. Rwanda’s vision is to drive economic growth through the private sector. This is top priority and facilitating private sector to achieve it is important. This means we do business reforms, cut red tape look at how taxes are filled and ease this as well. But in doing our part, investors’ presence should not be at the expense of policies like, for example, environmental regulations. Some of these policies and regulations are created to make Rwanda a better place for Rwandans and even investors themselves.

    Let us talk about the case of LAP Green, particularly Hotel Umubano and Rwandatel. Don’t you think the interests of government came in at the expense of investors? LAP Green’s license was revoked by the regulator (Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Agency) simply because they failed to do what they were required to do. They had obligations in their license requirements which they didn’t probably fulfill. A license is a contract between government and the telecom. Sometimes we don’t simply attract an investor for the sake of having an investor. Investors have to deliver on their license obligations. If you have the mentality that government should ignore its vision at the expense of the interests of the investor, then you risk assuming that government and the investor don’t have a common interest. The interest of government and the investor are aligned.

    What are the challenges you have encountered in this whole process of attracting investors and investments? One of the biggest obstacles is availability of infrastructure to produce energy. Despite the fact that investments in energy were top attraction in 2011, it is still a priority for us in 2012 because without energy, the manufacturing industry can’t grow. Right now, we are negotiating with several companies that produce energy including a Turkish one. We are also talking with Orascom from Egypt, we have a memorandum of understanding with them, and they are already carrying out a feasibility study which should be finished in the first quarter of this year. The other pertinent issue is availability of finance. If one wants to finance a US$30million project, there must be funds, but this can be a challenge.

    But this is being addressed, we are attracting investors in the financial sector as well and there is positivity. Recently, Kenya Commercial Bankk entered the market and now Equity Bank is here. We have many projects that need to be financed like say the Bugesera Airport, which is worth about US$600million; we have a railway project coming up as well and many others. Though there is an improvement in acquiring skilled human capacity, it is a challenge. We are encouraging companies to train and equip their human resource with skills. We also have some top notch institutions like Carnegie Mellon University, a top world computer institution, which is soon setting up in Rwanda.

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