By Alain Mucyo
An article was published this week on a website that calls itself East African Monitor under the title: “Why are the political killings and disappearances under Paul Kagame being ignored?” But besides its name, there is nothing to suggest the website has presence anywhere near the East African region. That’s only the first of the many dubious things about East African Monitor.
The article carries the signature of Aaron Brooks, who seems to be the only writer for the outlet, who describes himself as “a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news”. That’s the second red flag that this is no news website, but rather some organ with other agendas.
Brooks claims to be the editor-in-chief of this one-man show.
Like all Western wannabe experts when it comes to reporting on Rwanda the article starts with very familiar lines about the country’s economic success.
“President Paul Kagame has steered the country out of crisis and guided it into a new age of stability and economic promise. In 1994, Rwanda’s per capita GDP was $146 but this rose to $774 by 2017 and is projected to reach $970 in 2020,” Brooks begins, in a familiar opening gambit.
Further down the article goes on to state that “Rwanda’s growth wouldn’t be possible without Kagame’s authoritarian rule.” This is an exemplary exercise in self-contradiction by the same people that like to say, “development is not possible under authoritarianism!” So which is which? Is Rwanda democratic, or is it not? They are getting lost in their inconsistencies, one would conclude.
The writer then goes on to regurgitate talking points to pin Rwanda on its supposed “lack of democratic credentials”. One way those that call themselves experts seek to prove the alleged lack of democracy is “the absence of electoral violence in Rwanda”. Since this is “unlike other countries in the region”, it therefore goes to show “lack of democracy”!
Going back to the title that the author chose to give his article, questioning why “killings and disappearances” are being ignored, one can only wonder: who is ignoring which killings?
After seeing this one may ask: besides the Rwandan electorate who would it be that Kagame reports to that has ignored his transgressions as stated by the writer?
Then along the article, the author throws in the same familiar nuances that Rwanda’s economic performance has earned President Kagame plenty of praise. Which raises another question: who said the Rwandan President was working for praise? Kagame himself has been on record saying categorically that he does not do what he does for his people to earn the praise of anyone.
Just last week, while appearing on Spotlight Conversation on the margins of the Doha Forum in Qatar, the president once again made his long-held position clear. He does not need any outsider’s validation.
The moderator had insinuated in her question that the President was losing his status as a darling of the West because of his style of leadership. “I have not been seeking to be anybody’s darling. If anybody wants to make me their darling then that is their business. But I have been seeking partnership,” said President Kagame.
He then added: “I am happy working with my people and for my people and my country. Moving from the past of tremendous challenges but also making good progress and creating hope for the people of Rwanda.”
In his article Brooks goes on to name five “high-profile” opposition activists who have either “disappeared” or “killed”. But by his own admission, he says that none of these can be traced to President Kagame or his leadership.
Of the five, two were found dead, with competent authorities pronouncing themselves on these developments but somehow, the article says. But it quotes the least objective, most biased sources such as Human Rights Watch, to jump to the conclusion that these were “political assassinations”. It is beyond strange.
Moreover, on the remaining three “disappearances” the website talks of, one has since resurfaced while the other two are still missing. One of the two, Boniface Twagirimana, escaped remand from Nyanza Prison, commonly known as Mpanga before the conclusion of his case in court.
Interestingly, the journalist, who is making a case for this suspect who escaped prison, conveniently fails to mention to his readers the case of another man, Cassien Ntamuhanga, who escaped from the same prison towards the beginning of November 2017. Ntamuhanga later surfaced a few weeks later, giving interviews on radio stations, including BBC and VOA despite being an escaped convict who was serving a 25-year sentence.
It is important to note that killings or disappearances, by the writer’s own admission, are “not linked to President Kagame or his government.” The writer in effect is clamoring to hold them accountable for something for which they bear no responsibility. This is the level of “journalism” of this Brooks.
One of his aims can be divined as an attempt to push for sanctions against Rwandan officials. To further expose this “white savior complex” Brooks states that President Kagame maintains popular support in Rwanda but adds a caveat that “it’s hard to know how much is genuine.”
If one may ask, how much can the writer determine his own Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s or in the case of US, President Donald Trump’s support is genuine?
Is there any other yardstick other than the polls?
When the author compares one of the most stable countries (not just in the region but in the world, according to global indices), to countries that are still ravaged by civil war, he only exposes himself as a wannabe, with an agenda that he knows best.
What’s obvious is that truth isn’t part of that agenda.