By John Kazooba
Andrew Mwenda’s Independent magazine had an interesting story, “Why Kagame won 99%”.
Mwenda who also works part time as a political strategist for Mr Paul Kagame also had the courtesy to observe that “Historically, such margins have only been won in countries like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which was under the tight grip of a tyrant”.
Similarly, a one Foudre commented on the article, “Rwanda under One ruling party systems across 3 Republics, has always held elections with such margins which makes Kagame no different from any other of the dictators,” he pointed out giving a history of Rwandan elections under one party rule as:
1965 : MDR-Parmehutu 100% of Votes
1969 : MDR-Parmehutu 100% of Votes
1978: MRND – 98.99% (Sounds Familiar?)
1983: MRND – 99.97% (HA! )
1988: MRND – 99.98% (LOL)
2003: RPF-INKOTANYI – 95.0 %
2010: RPF-INKOTANYI – 93.08 %
2017: RPF -INKOTANYI – 98.80%
He concluded, “This is “absolute Circus”.
However, to understand Rwanda’s elections, numbers are actually hiding the truth.
The truth of the matter is; There was no election.
Now, everyone who analyses Kagame’s win, should either start or end with that admission, and short of that, it is not worth talking about.
It is very easy to say Mr Kagame is a popular leader, and I actually believe he is. And also to admit the fact that he has scored high on the development agenda of his country. It is however another thing to have an election where everyone fears to stand against you, and you don’t stop at that, you even choose who should stand against you.
The Independent magazine article, https://www.independent.co.ug/kagame-won-99/2/, falls short on giving a context of how Mr Kagame, arrived at 99%, devoid of talking about the candidates in the race. No wonder, Mr Mwenda who loves comparative politics in his arguments, does not even mention any other contestant in the entire article (just like me ), which might mean actually there were inconsequential to the “race”.
Mr Kagame, which full control over Rwanda’s apparatus, is not a kind who should contest with upstarts, and in fact, it is an insult to have a candidate who should be standing for councilor of a ward to be cleared among those to contest with s formidable candidate such as President Kagame.
There is also another way of looking at it – that the whole country is in consensus that as long as Mr Kagame is standing, no one sensible should dare stand against him, which leaves the contestant who zealously embraced their calling, reflected in bad light. Why? Rwanda has very smart people. They are doing great things in the region, on the continent, and globally, and therefore, it is not by mistake that they choose to stay out of Kagame’s way and mind their own business.
The profiles of the rivals are telling.
Take for instance, Frank Habineza, the founder and leader of Democratic Green Party (DGP).
Frank is 40, and is a graduate of Public Administration from the National University of Rwanda. His main area of work was in the environment and has previously worked as as special assistant to a minister in Mr Kagame’s government.
On the other hand, Philippe Mpayimana, 47, little is known about him. The former journalist arrived in Rwanda from exile only to start campaigning. Therefore, he is not a person with name recognition to even threaten a village chairmanship.
That is why the one percent of Rwanda who defied Kagame to choose the other little known candidates, are what deserve the news.
It would be news worth if Mr Kagame gathered all the 100% given his record as a builder of Rwanda, and vision bearer of the new Rwandan promise. However, the fact that more than 100,000 chose to vote the other people is worth paying attention to.