Kigali, 14 October 2014
Let me start by greeting and thanking you all for the just concluded function of electing and swearing-in of the new President of the Senate. I want to make a few remarks before I talk about something else, which might take a bit longer.
I want to thank the President of the Senate Bernard Makuza for what he has been doing and for accepting this new role and accompanying responsibilities. I want also to thank Ms. Fatou who has been elected Vice President of the Senate and also I thank all senators for the commendable job they have been doing and will continue to do.
As it has been always the case, I promise to you my support; the support we give to each institution to enable team work and complementarity. Working together as a team will always benefits the country as a whole rather than one institution or one individual – this is the most important.
I would like to add something before I go into a different subject. As leaders, we have responsibilities towards our nation and our people, which is also part of the dignity we want to achieve and in the name of what we are as Africans; because Rwanda is not an island, it’s a country existing among others with which it has relations at different levels.
An occasion like this of swearing in the President of the Senate should remind us the importance of our responsibilities as leaders. A leader should be working for the general interest and not their personal interest. So, what I’m trying to say is that leadership shouldn’t be seen as something ordinary, leaders are not ordinary citizens, far from it. A leader should be someone with a vision, serving the general interest rather than their own. Being a leader is an invaluable opportunity to serve the people. Leaders who don’t understand that concept forget why they were given leadership positions in the first place; they believe that all is about individual interests or the interests of their friends and, or they simply think it’s about privileges. Leadership is not about that, people shouldn’t consider it that way. The second thing I want to talk about is that Rwanda – Rwandans – like everyone else in the world, have their own interests at heart. Rwandans need security and freedom to carry out the different activities that allow them to develop, they need dignity. Everyone on earth, each country has its own individual needs. When a leader prefers to serve another country’s needs instead of those of his people, it always leads to problems. That issue is at the root of problems like those our country is facing including poverty and unnecessary conflicts that prevent Rwandans from reaching the developmental level they wish at the desired pace.
Other people are achieving their targets by using you; they make you work for them and in the end they are where they want to be while your own interests and those of your country are compromised.
How many of you are being told how very important they are and these people keep assuring you how they can make you go even higher? But this is done at the expense of what you should be doing for Rwandans. They will go to greater heights to weaken you by making you have a false feeling of comfort.
But when they are doing that to you, it’s not for your interest nor for those of your own people, it’s for their own interest. They turn you into a hoe that cultivates their land for them. We have so many examples but I think people have eyes and just can’t see, they have ears but they can’t hear. And if you are a leader who cannot see and hear, then you are most likely to bring trouble to your country. Trouble like that we have experienced in our past.
There are many examples that serve to remind this to us every other day. As Rwandans, if we can look back and see where we were, where we are and where we are headed, all this should shape our thinking and encourage us to give our best everyday as we execute our national duty. If you want examples I will give them to you. As Rwandans we have gone through many traps and we have managed to overcome them but there are many more ahead. If you are a leader who lacks foresight and can’t think outside the box, you fall in those traps and cause others to do the same. But because national interest should come first, we should all agree not to fall in those traps.
Let me give you an example: the other day I was reading like most of you do and I came across a documentary made by BBC, the one you know; “British Broadcasting Cooperation” that we are usually told is independent.
If you watch this documentary, if you see the kind of people in this documentary who have been selected to talk about Rwanda, from the first one to the last, I don’t have to go through their names, even though I don’t even remember most of their names – and I have no reason to anyway.
But for an institution like BBC that operates all over the world, where under normal circumstances people’s lives and rights should be respected, decides to do something that goes against all their principles and ends up smearing the image of Rwanda and Rwandans to the extent that they deny that there was a genocide… Yet they covered it from the beginning until today when they decide to say otherwise. They have even gone beyond tarnishing the name of Rwanda’s leadership to the point of treating Rwanda and Rwandans as if we have didn’t matter.
And this is done simply because we are Rwandans and Africans. I am sure BBC cannot produce a similar documentary referring to what happened in Bosnia for example. It cannot dare doing the same thing with holocaust. But since it’s about Rwanda and Africa, they do it; that’s what they did to us this time. And they end up teaching us about the value of freedom of speech, freedom of expression. The freedom of speech they tell us about is different from what they tell other people. Freedom of speech for Rwanda is the one which allows RTLM to call people for killings; because they have the right to do so. Do you know RTLM? For them, RTLM’s actions were the products of freedom of expression, freedom of speech: calling people to go on killing sprees, asking them to kill those who have long necks. That was considered freedom of expression. When it comes to Rwanda, that’s when BBC can afford to call it freedom of speech. They took revisionists and actually included genocidaires as the main speakers in the documentary. They are now the ones to shape the narrative about Rwanda, the ones who say the “truth” about Rwanda: that those who died in big number are these ones not these other ones…Genocide was not perpetrated against those you said but against some others. The BBC which announced the genocide in its first days looked for people who can deny it. Now we are the killers, genocidaires are not. All of us who are seated here are killers. That is the publicity which is being made. All people who are totally discredited in Rwanda, for very obvious reasons, are the ones to be selected and put there to tell the story that should be believed about all of us. That is coming from a part of the world that has a lot of instructions to give us about freedoms; this is cynicism of the highest order, everything opposing what they claim to stand for is what they have done against us. And it’s not the first time; we see it every day, every week, every month in all kinds of forms.
Why am I saying this? Why am I emphasizing this? I am saying this to remind you Rwandans that nobody owes you a thing: you are on your own, you should own it! You should own your story, you should own everything about you, you should shape it the way you want, the way you deserve, don’t wait for these cynics. And I am bringing it in context of responsibility of leaders; leaders including the President of Senate sworn in today, if you don’t understand this about the world we leave in, so that in our small world this Rwanda, we are able to put things in context and manage our affairs ourselves, our country the way we should. That is what I was talking about, we shouldn’t be just ordinary people who fight over chicken and potatoes on this, it’s something much bigger; this is about our lives, about our dignity.
There is a lot to learn from critics, from people who criticise you, albeit unfairly. There is always something small, you can look around and find something, pick from that and learn from it. But these are not ordinary critics, this is just criminal. It’s just to destroy everything you have been building, that is it! They are the same people doing that to you, they are the same people who come the next day and start telling you the best thing for you, what you should be doing in your best interests and they actually assume they can put themselves in a position where they know your interests better than you. Well maybe it is also true; maybe we also portray ourselves as people who do not know our interests and have to be reminded by these cynics what our interests are! May be it comes from us! Maybe we carry ourselves as people who don’t know what we need and need to be reminded by others. But when you have to be reminded by others, it’s in their own interests not yours. When they pick people who are completely discredited and give them a platform to shape what people must believe about you, they are not doing it in your interest: they are doing it in their own interests even though I don’t know what interests those are.
If you Rwandans, especially you leaders, don’t understand that people shouldn’t think that you don’t know what you need, what you deserve, that they can use you to serve their own interest… Then, that would mean that we are lying about wanting to develop our country. The worst crime a leader can commit is to lie; lie to his people in order to serve his own interests. You should make a choice. You should choose to work for your people’s benefits.
When you are giving Rwandans what they deserve, helping them achieve their objectives, when you work for Rwandans’ benefits as well as yours, that’s when you are valuing yourself. But you can choose to be used, to serve your own interests instead even though I don’t see the benefit of that. They distract you with small things, and you spend your whole time fighting for small issues, fighting for what you don’t even have. Instead of working to create something of worth that can benefit their respective interests, they fighting for the little they have and end up losing it all. They end up with nothing at all and then they start fighting each other. When the little they were fighting for is finished, they just start fighting each other. You tell yourself that someone wants to serve your interests, to increase your benefits, but you are mistaken; they are the ones who benefits from your fights.
But if you think that all the time they were here working for this country, that all that was wasted, you are mistaken. The more we are challenged, the stronger we get. The more we make it through the storms, the stronger we get. Our body might tire but our heart will keep pushing. The best ways to face those who insults us is, first, to ignore them; second, as leaders, such things meant to hurt Rwandans should motivate us to even do more to speed up our progress.
Let’s just do more of what we are doing, let’s get more progress beyond the progress we have been achieved, that’s the only way to get back to these cynics. And that’s what I tell you every day; when I read these things I feel stronger than ever before and get motivated to work even harder. We need to fight for Rwanda, stand our ground and be strong. Those who come telling people lies, destroying what we have been building over the years; they are wrong, they won’t get anywhere and every day we feel stronger we feel more energised and happier to engage them on this battleground.
Now let me shift a little bit from that. Just take a look at how the world is today. Let’s leave the Rwandan field for a little bit let’s look elsewhere, let’s see what is happening all over the world: just tell me which part of the world and I will tell you what problems they have. It seems like the whole world is in a state of chaos, chaos all over! Of course that chaos can’t be originating from Rwanda, absolutely not. We have our own share of the world’s problems, sometimes more than our share – the fair share that we should have- but we are certainly not the cause. But it’s also a reminder, in a small way, of our responsibilities. Not only responsibilities for our own selves, but also to contribute to finding solutions elsewhere.
Make our small contribution to make sure that we can, however small; we can contribute that to get this world we live in better. Because what affect neighbours, what affects even distant places, ultimately depending to what level, also affects us. So we can consolidate, straighten ourselves make progress but that also reminds us that how interdependent and interconnected the word is. A small thing happening here affect somebody so far away, a small thing happening so far away comes back to affect us, so we are part of whatever is happening.
Now look at the situation in West Africa: Ebola. Ebola that is ravaging the economies of West Africa and is threatening other places. We can’t assume that, it is not affecting us directly or won’t affect us, therefore we can’t say we are not going to be part of it in terms of finding, in a small way, contributing to normalizing the situation which the whole word fortunately is, however people are saying slow and so on, trying to find a way out of that. We need to straighten our systems here in Rwanda, prepare for any eventuality relating to that problem, we need to start from home. But after doing that, we need to figure out how do we join the rest of the word to be helpful in making sure that this problem is brought to an end. So all this reminds us of our responsibilities.
But you can’t assume responsibilities for situations in other places without building your own capacity at home so that if anything happens we ready to deal with, if it hasn’t happened we are able to prevent it but whichever is the case, you need to be thinking of going beyond that and giving support within your means to deal with that problem that is happening elsewhere. So I want to remind our Minister of Health and all of us really: local government, everybody that we really need to activate our systems our health care and other things to stand ready. One: to prevent some of these problems you can hear, two: can we be supportive of the efforts elsewhere to deal with the situation?
So the healthcare workers we have here in their tens of thousands, these Rwandans need to be mobilized and everybody needs to be part of that mobilization and part of it so that we…. This thing that has almost become a top priority in terms of national security of countries, which does not exclude our own country, doesn’t overwhelm us. If we can prevent we do, if it comes we managed it properly, if it doesn’t come then we can use what he have put in place to support what is happening elsewhere.
In other words, leaders here present, am just reminding us all that they are always going to be challenges, which we should be prepared for and I think, Rwandans, given where we are coming from, given where we are and where we want to be, where we lack in terms of material capacity, at least we compensate that with the capacity to understand, and to think properly and act properly to deal with any challenge. I think we have reached that point so we should not waste it. So, security, national interests, fighting terrorism, fighting diseases like Ebola, continuing to investment in food security, in good governance, in enabling our citizens to do business for their own development.
Building capacity to adequately respond to any threats to our country and our region, and beyond is something that we treat as a priority, and I think, this is why I chose to emphasize this point, for leaders to understand that these things don’t just happen by accident; that we can build capacity to deal with these challenges, the old and the new challenges, won’t happen by accident. We need to have the leaders who understand, who act, who see things for what they are. Leaders who, when they are insulted and abused and misrepresented, will just do more of what they think they are doing right rather than quitting and running away from problems. I think we should be people who don’t run away from problems. Where else would we go anyway? If you run away from the problems of Rwanda where would you run to? So you are better off pushing back and fighting hard the way you should.
As for those who are ready to flee the country, you will of course get praises from radios like BBC but that’s about it. I don’t think there is really anything else they can do for you, especially if you support those who are against Rwanda, and allow them to use you by speaking against her. Rwanda is real and it is true, these are not theories. It’s about you, it’s about me and it’s about achievements. And if you want a fight they give you a good fight. If you want peace, they give you real peace. That’s the way I see things.
During the last three years, there was terrorism done here, throwing grenades, killing our people, and it was for the first time where I saw terrorism almost being internationally supported. I have never heard of it anywhere else! You remember grenades thrown here and killing our children? Some died and some were injured but the next day the whole word would be blaming us for all kinds of wrong things, and really it was like saying: “you brought this one on yourself”. Inviting a grenade to kill my children, to kill [my people]…How? It’s what I was calling the highest level of cynicism. And of course beyond that, then the world starts praising and giving platform to those who were actually behind it. These people in the documentary of BBC are people who were behind those grenades. I have never understood how! I’d wish to see on BBC some of these extremists all of us are trying to fight being given platform. I think they should give ISIS, you have heard of an organisation called ISIS? They talk about it every day. It is some monster that has developed, that is causing insecurity and killing people in all sorts of names… In the name of freedom of expression, why don’t they give them platform and we see what they say? Would they actually do that? I want to see somebody …
On one hand you do this to Rwanda, to me and then on the other these extremists deserve to be eliminated, and I agree with that, but how do you start being selective about these extremists? You know the case of FDLR? You’ve heard about it? This FDLR problem has been there for the last 20 years. You think it’s by accident? And then the other day something also emerged called M23, the whole world was not only descending on it to kill it but they all even wanted to kill us for it! Something they are more associated with than ourselves! We paid a very high price for this bloody thing which was a creation of other people than ourselves. Then after that, when we all cooperated in dealing with the situation and they had told us they would deal with it and deal with FDLR …And when all that was done, when it came to FDLR they started: “Yeah but you see, you know these people are very young; they are not really the old ones”. They started saying things we could not understand even today. So on one hand, people are there promoting extremism, that have killed people, these people from FDLR, associated with people who killed our one million people, and it’s like: “you see they are not old they are young. Among them, there are young ones so let’s see what we can do about them”. Really? And then when it comes to the threats that are similar directed at them, everybody must cooperate.
What is this? Do you understand this you leaders? But at least, whether you understand it or not, I want us to be reminded, by that, that we really need to be serious about our own business. Let’s be serious about our own business of stability and prosperity, of making sure every Rwandan has and feels they have security that they are able to freely go about their business. That is our main business. You can’t outsource it, you can’t have someone else do it for you, please forget about that. Forget about thinking anybody else will do it for you, especially not those who are ready to beat you when you are down. They will just kill you. These people who praise the extremists or people associated with Genocide here and twist it and turn it into something else. They cannot do anything good for you, they cannot. So again, you should understand that you have your country, your lives to manage, to run; you better do it, you own it, because after all, in most cases you are really on your own. So if you are on your own, you’d better stand up to these challenges otherwise people will come support you in the morning, in the evening they come destroy what they helped build for whatever reasons I have never understood.
I thought I needed to take a bit of your time on this, this was a moment for me to speak out, to say something but from here I think it’s time to go and do real things and that is the task of all of us, all the leaders those who have been there and those who come in at different times…That is our own main business…So let us be our own builders for our progress and development. Asante Sana.