WINDHOEK – Visiting Rwandan President Paul Kagame saw first hand how tribalism almost wiped his country off the face of the earth in the mid-90s and yesterday he cautioned Namibia not to fall into the same trap.
The 1994 Rwandan genocide was a systematic campaign by the Hutu ethnic majority aimed at wiping out each and every member of the minority Tutsi group. The Hutu-controlled government and allied militias slaughtered between 800,000 and one million Tutsis before a Tutsi rebel group overthrew them.
“It’s not for Namibia or Rwanda or any other country. It is a problem that can be addressed. I have no doubt that Namibia has the capacity to overcome this challenge, starting from the point of what is of common interest to them and use whatever difference among people to start a discussion,” he said at State House yesterday.
“This the foundation one has to step on to move forward to address tribalism. If you have good leaders like my brother, here, Geingob, I am sure the problem can be solved.”
Geingob said tribalism is not too severe in Namibia, adding that if it were so, he would not have become President of Namibia as a native of a minority tribe.
Kagame is from the minority Tutsi tribe in Rwanda.
Kagame used the occasion to dismiss allegations that his country does not guarantee freedom of speech, while inviting any critics to go and see for themselves the situation back home.
“What I know as a person who leads my country and lives there with the people, I have come to be President on the basis of the choice of people of Rwanda. We have made progress on many fronts whether it’s poverty, human rights, or freedom of speech,” he noted.
He added: “We have taken the country to a better situation than we have been. We are one of those countries that had a lot of problems. The tragedy [massacre] in my country 25 years ago is a story that is known around the world. Unfortunately, we are more known for that than better things that happened thereafter.”
He said his people are working hard to improve their lives, and they are happy with what they have.
On the media reports that ‘the Kagame regime’s bogus statistics claim much larger amounts of economic growth in Rwanda’, he said economic growth of Rwanda is real.
“The people of my country are working very hard every day. Agriculture is booming and growing. It’s not just growth by numbers, it’s growth that can be felt,” Kagame defended.
He said farmers are earning something in their pockets from selling what they produce, adding that this is why it is very easy to measure the impact of Rwanda’s economic growth.
“You can’t cook these numbers. I asked those people writing about cooked numbers if they ever have been to Rwanda. I found they haven’t been there. They say they got the information from the internet. The internet is not the best way to get information. If we cooked numbers, then we will be cheating ourselves,” he reacted.
According to the 2019/20 Rwanda national budget, Rwanda’s economy grew by 6.1 percent in the 2017/18 financial year from 5.9 percent in 2016/17.
Statistics indicate this was driven by the service sector (+8 percent), the agricultural sector (+7 percent), and the industry sector (+4 percent). The economy is projected to grow by 7.2 percent and 7.8 percent in the 2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years, respectively.
“We don’t want to please other people… no, we want to satisfy ourselves. And this thing of stereotype out there that Africans cannot do fine and that Africans must do things that must be validated by others somewhere. But we don’t need any validation. We want to do things that benefit us.”
2019-08-21 07:20:02 | 9 months ago