Parliament, 15 December 2011

  • Speaker of Senate;
  • Speaker of Parliament;
  • Chief Justice;
  • The Prime Minister;
  • Honorable Minister;
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
  • Local and central government leaders;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen;

Let me start by wishing you fruitful discussions during these two days of this meeting.

The objective of this meeting has been laid out – it is a forum for all Rwandans to share ideas with the aim of finding solutions for our country. I call upon all Rwandans wherever they to participate fully through the available channels of communication. This dialogue is the conduit for the building of our nation with involvement of all Rwandans and we should therefore maximize it for tangible outcomes.

I want us to also use this forum to address a few other matters – there are issues that keep coming especially from outside the country that has left me wondering how it is related to our efforts to develop our country. To me, we don’t depend on any goodwill from anyone other than ourselves to build our country.

There are voices that originate from outside the country where you hear people say that there is progress in Rwanda but at the end, they add ‘but.’ Where does the ‘but’ come from? The most common accusation from these people is that there is no freedom of speech in Rwanda. This can only mean three things; that Rwandans are mute, or someone is physically preventing them from speaking, or they have nothing to say.

During this forum, we need to examine what we are and compare it with what others think we are so that we can decide the best we want to be and not what others want us to be. People say that there is no political space – there is no bigger space than this one. Actually, the only space lacking is the one that is occupied by these intruders. This nonsense from outside is occupying our space. These teachers of political space, press freedom are the same ones who give freedom to murderers of our people. It has taken 17 years for them to try Bagosora and try the case so badly. They also have been letting those worked with him to kill our people go scot free and yet they come here to lecture us on freedoms? They are jokers.

Some of us that they accuse of stifling freedoms are freedom fighters – we have fought for our freedom and that of other people since childhood. They are just liars; we have interest in our own rights and freedom as anyone else and there are no lessons to be learnt from people with double standards who tell lies every day.

They can do it just because they can, not because they are right. They can do it to Africans and they want to do it to Rwandans – but I want to assure you that we are different people. Rwandans should not accept this because accepting it is unthinkable. If you accept it, it can never get worse for you – you are better off standing up and challenging it. These journalists, human rights activists and masqueraders should not speak for your, speak for yourself.

Some people want to make freedoms a myth whose possibility and definition is only in the hands of a few with the power, privilege and capacity to define for you what is in your interest and what constitutes freedom. Who are you and who are you speaking for? These millions of people are here to wait for you to come and tell them what is good for them? It’s an insult to Rwandans. I reject the whole idea.

We cannot be seen to be making all this progress and at the same time be so bad in terms of democratic government or freedoms – it doesn’t add up. These people have their own problems that they need to address.

Recently I was reading an article in a French newspaper from a country that is so interested in Rwanda and has spent two years without a government, and someone was wondering how they were going to be ruled by someone from the minority – the designate Prime Minister has an Italian background and therefore from the minority. The writer alluded to the fact that they cannot be governed like Rwanda – well, they wish! I am sure they wish to be governed like Rwanda because they have been without a government for so many years. And it’s not because they did not want to have a government, it’s because they failed to. Who is a minority? I am not from the minority. I am from the RPF and it’s the majority. I am from these Rwandans and they are not minority in their own country. Imagine these are the people who want to give lessons to Rwandans about governance and freedomsThe main problem is one, and that’s why we are here.

These people can afford to call you all sorts of names and can do anything to you if they want. If you want to find out, ask where Mutara Rudahigwa went. They do all this because we depend on them; they give you money and leftovers. When you are a beggar anything will happen to you. That is the position we are in and that is the situation we want to leave far behind. That’s why we are here and should leave when we are more determined than ever to go and do the best we can and leave the beggar position behind. That’s when there will be no references made on us, and nobody will be able to say whatever they want to you. That’s the importance of this gathering. We are the ones top give ourselves dignity.

These days whenever I meet t the press, they ask me when I am supposed to leave office. They are not patient enough to let me serve the rest of my term; they want me to go now. But Rwandans have entrusted me with the responsibility to serve them until 2017 when I can serve them in other capacities because I have served them in other capacities before. I can serve Rwandans after this office, and therefore I don’t see why people are developing a headache for nothing. After all, it doesn’t matter what I say; if I say yes, they will say I said no, if I say no, they will say I said yes.

They have been accusing me of what Minister Sheikh Fazil said. I think he talked to the press and told them what his thoughts about term limits in Rwanda, but after that they turned this on me. I think Fazil should carry his own cross. We are thus misunderstood and we need to stand up to these. They say when I was asked about my retirement I was vague – I have never been vague in my life, what you see is what you get from me.

I wish you a good meeting, thank you.