Kagame’s heat level: His control and confidence are blazing through his opposition

  • + Rwanda finds its president’s confidence hot and his opposition cold.
  • + His failures are the cabinets fault and their success is only due to him.
  • + He is bound to stay until 2034, or even longer?
Twitter: @PaulKagame

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, is growing hot in today’s world. While you may remember Rwanda negatively in regards to the devastating genocide or positively in regards to the women who make up 60% of Parliament, you most likely know little about its current leader. Kagame is the leader of a country so vastly devastated 25 years ago and yet, so successful today. President Kagame is convinced that he himself is the reason for Rwanda’s success story and thus, for it to continue, he must continue writing it. His main objective as President is the wellbeing of the Rwandans and from his point of view, that can only be achieved by staying in power as long as possible. As much as his opposition may dislike it, Kagame is really good at doing just that, staying in power. Whether he’s staying in power is good or bad for the country, only time and Rwandan citizens can tell. That said, this article will mainly focus on how Kagame keeps his temperature hot and his opposition, well, not.

Why is Kagame’s heat level blazing? 

Answer: He assures Rwanda’s well being and sovereignty. 

Rwanda is, compared to its neighbours, in relatively good shape. The World Bank rated Rwanda the second-best country in Africa to do business in and with a growth rate of 8.6%, its future prospects look good. These are figures that the people of a country still healing from a genocide largely appreciate and associate with their leader. To many citizens, Kagame is the personification of the successful economic transformation.

Not only does he ensure economic growth, but the President also ensures security by eliminating the threat of tribalism in his country by keeping rebel groups in check. Most rebel groups were hiding in the border region of Uganda, threatening Kagame’s grasp of power and security in the region. To overcome this, Kagame maintained his cool and practised diplomacy at its best with his long term ally Yoweri Museveni (President of Uganda). The two agreed to continue to support one another militarily in the region and not harbour any rebel groups in the border areas of their respective country.

He is not the reason for failure, only success. On February 26th, Kagame replaced the majority of his cabinet for two reasons: First, for change to happen. Within the cabinet, sometimes change needs to happen, even if people did nothing wrong. If people do something wrong, then they obviously need to leave. As President Kagame said:“…When people do their job well, they should be proud of themselves, and we should also commend them for doing the right thing. For those who do not, it is only normal that they are held responsible.” These are the words of a man who likens himself to a god. In making this statement and taking out most of his cabinet, he is showing that change can happen, not despite him, but because of him and thus, if there is failure it cannot be his fault.

Someone needs to determine who is fulfilling their assigned tasks and who is not, why shouldn’t that be the President? If his population feels the same, then he is destined to remain in power as long as he wishes. Managing to receive all the praise and to direct the blame away from him might be his biggest accomplishment so far. Because of his diplomatic skills, handling of his cabinet, personal success and lack of failure, Kagame’s leadership is hot in today’s world.

Who is changing Kagame’s temperature? 

Answer: Himself, as he is effectively freezing the opposition

2019 was not an easy year for the Forces Democratiques Unifees (FDU Inkingi Party) also known as the opposition to Kagame. Two politicians associated with the opposition died within a short period of time, leading to Al Jazeera reporting“These incidents are part of a string of assassinations and forced disappearances of opponents and critics of President Kagame that have taken place over the past few years.” There is no proof that Kagame is behind the murders and disappearances. Nevertheless, human rights groups heavily criticised him for it. Without an opposition, it will be hard for Kagame to lose an election. As long as the country is running more or less smoothly, there is no further reason for strong opposition to arise. The result that there is no major opposition is only strengthening Kagame’s position and ensuring he will remain in power for years to come.

What does this mean for you? 

Answer: Kagame stays, whether you like it or not

There are no signs Kagame will be out of office anytime soon, largely due to him actively keeping it that way. Whenever there are signs of slow growth or failure he is quick to identify candidates for the hot seat in order to make sure he is not in it. At the same time, he always assures that the country’s success is shining onto him alone, hot like the sun. With his diplomatic skills and long term friends like Museveni, Kagame is essentially keeping the borders closed and therefore, rebel groups out of Rwanda. With his tight grip over the security apparatus, his agents, and his opposition, Kagame makes sure that there is no alternative to him for the presidency. As a result, in 2017, 60% of the population voted in favour of extending his potential terms to 2034. So who could stop Kagame if not himself? At the moment, he is succeeding at staying in power. But can he continue the Rwandan success story until 2034 and maybe even beyond?

Joshua Dario Hasenstab

General Coordination Communications