Rwanda: This Aid Is Killing Us, Rwandan Writer

To paraphrase Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda, African countries give ‘aid’ to western nations and not the other way around.

By Sunny Ntayombya, Rwanda Times*

That might sound wacky but the man has a point. We send them our raw materials, they process them into various goods and then they export them back to us. We buy them and the cycle continues.

At the end of the day, we become poorer and poorer, and they become richer and richer. And because they don’t want us to become so totally financially crippled, they give us ‘aid’.

This aid is killing us. We have a situation where people, who give us measly amounts of money in the first place, think that they can actually change our policies. For example, I read in a recent article posted on the Radio Netherlands Worldwide website that members of the Dutch ruling coalition were thinking about cutting aid to Rwanda because they were concerned about the human rights situation in the country.

Political trial
According to Klaas Dijkhoff, VVD MP and party spokesperson on development aid, he “can’t support the things that are happening in Rwanda right now. We support the development of a professional justice system in Rwanda but, at the same time, opposition leader Victoire Ingabire is locked up!”

According to the ‘knowledgeable’ Mr Dijkhoff, Ingabire is not receiving a fair trial. He’s quoted saying that she was put in jail “placed her under house arrest, released, and then locked up again without any substantial evidence!”

If you ask me, it looks like a political trial. Another busybody, Joël Voordewind, an MP for the small Dutch Christian Union party, goes even further. He says the Dutch are supporting the construction of jails by directly funding the Rwandan justice department.

“As we speak, those jails are being used to lock up political prisoners, and I don’t want us to be responsible for these policies.” said Voordewind.

First of all, I would expect some people to be informed and to have their opinions tempered with facts but I guess that I’m expecting a bit too much. Ingabire was never placed under house arrest, secondly she was never ‘released’, she was given bail which is her right as a Rwandan citizen.

Being granted bail doesn’t mean that the charges have disappeared. Secondly, she did not fulfill the bail conditions and that’s why she was taken into custody once again.

She was granted a bail hearing at the Gasabo Intermediate Court but because of the Prosecution’s evidence, her bail was revoked. She subsequently appealed the ruling and the High Court judge, Johnston Busingye denied her bail. He ruled that the lower justice had followed the letter of the law in denying her bail in the first place.

‘Armchair experts’
Our justice system has been taking a battering from ‘armchair experts’ but guess what? An international tribunal actually ruled that our courts were governed without political pressure from the Executive. You think I’ve made it up? Look at some of the rulings made by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. But I digress.

It sickens me when people without facts, decide that they know something. Honestly, I think that these MP’s would have done a lot better if they’d instituted a fact-finding mission. They could have come to Rwanda, talked to people on the ground and then made their judgments.

But I won’t hold my breath. If they did, it would mean that they actually care about Rwandans and the impact of their aid on the lives of ordinary people. The fact of the matter is that they are simply scoring political points and attempting to raise their name recognition in the Dutch press.

The Netherlands is giving us 44 million euros for 2011. For this kind of money, I don’t really think that they should be so noisy. With or without that stipend, Rwanda will continue to exist and prosper.

I’m of the school that wishes that these fellows actually backed up their threats and actually withdrew aid. It’s time that we faced that particular demon. We must show that those threats are simply empty words. Because at the end of the day, that’s simply what they are.

* Rwanda Times is a daily regarded to have close ties with the Rwandan government.