If we were acting in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, we would probably say that “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”
If we were hard core libertarians, we would probably drop Denmark and we’d be more than happy to say that “something is rotten in the state” or, more likely, that everything is rotten in the state or that the state is entirely rotten.
But as observers of African Politics and Policy, we have the impression that something may be wrong in Rwanda.
Rwanda is that place, where, for those who have forgotten, 23 years ago a genocide took place in the indifference of the international community. The memory of that genocide haunts, like a ghost, both European and African policy makers who are still busy playing the blame game.
The memory of the genocide, the blame game, are the reasons why the Franco-Rwandan relations are not as cordial as they could be.
French authorities claim that something is rotten in Rwanda, while Rwandan authorities are fairly certain that something is rotten in France.
The memory of the genocide has not derailed Rwanda’s development plans. Rwanda has become one of the most successful economies in the region, is expected to remain an economic powerhouse in the years to come, is regarded as one of the most competitive economies in the region, is believed to top the rest of the region in terms of gender equality, and if often identified as one of the best democracies in the region.
President Kagame is nearly universally recognized as a great man and as a phenomenal President. And given how successful he has been in making Rwanda successful, there is every reason to believe that President Kagame deserves all the credit that he gets.
But then, in the wake of his last re-election, some of presidential hopefuls who attempted to compete against Kagame in the presidential elections are either prosecuted on various grounds or are fleeing the country for fear of ending up in jail.
We do not know whether these people belong in jail or not and/or whether deserve to be prosecuted. Rwandan authorities know better. But when presidential candidates, after being defeated, end up being prosecuted or end up believing that they will be prosecuted (and persecuted), international observers start worrying that something may be rotten in Rwanda.
And Rwanda is too good, and Kagame has been too good for too long, to allow observers to believe that something is rotten.