Home Business & TechEconomy The Week in Review: 10 Big Stories that Dominated This Past Week

The Week in Review: 10 Big Stories that Dominated This Past Week

by Edmund Kagire
11:59 pm

From Rwanda hosting the Anti-Corruption Excellence Awards to President Paul Kagame attending the Doha Forum and a ground-breaking agreement between Rwanda and Qatar to build a New International Airport –one thing stood out Rwanda’s relations with Qatar are flourishing.

KT Press has picked out 10 stories that dominated the headlines in the past week and key milestones that characterised the week as the year seems to be fast coming to an end.

A closer look at the week that was for Rwanda shows that the name ‘Qatar’ keeps reappearing, confirming how the friendship between Kigali and Doha is increasingly becoming tightly knit.

Kagame at Doha Forum

To cap a week in which Rwanda and Qatar confirmed the flourishing bilateral relations, President Kagame was in Doha where he joined global leaders from the public and private sector for the 2019 Doha Forum which was themed “Reimagining Governance in a Multipolar World”.

President Kagame joined the Amir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani and other dignitaries from across the globe for the Opening Session of the 19th edition of the Doha Forum and later met the Qatari leader at the sidelines of the forum to discuss further the bilateral ties of the two countries.

At the Forum, the Head of State spoke about a range of things including leadership, mentioning that even though he has been in office for some years now, he still feels he has the strength to work for the country and the people.

“I am happy working with my people and for my people and my country. Moving from the past of tremendous challenges but also making good progress and creating hope for the people of Rwanda,” President Kagame said.

He also spoke about Rwanda’s economic growth, pointing out that it is never mission accomplished as the country has to keep working towards achieving her goals, noting that it is a continuous process.

“As far as we are concerned, it’s a work in progress. We find there’s a lot to do, a lot to be achieved but we have to keep working hard,” he said, highlighting the challenges the country has had to overcome over the last 25 years, including the impact of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi which he said had many foreign actors involved.

“Yes, we had a genocide in Rwanda. We lost a million people, Rwandans killing other Rwandans. Of course there were many foreign actors and factors involved but I don’t spend much time on that,”

“I just talk about what our responsibilities are. Because in the end when we come to rebuilding our country, we don’t blame others, we just look up to ourselves to be able to pick the pieces and move forward,” he said adding that it was politics of division that made people look at each other differently.

He spoke at length about leadership and accountability as well as democracy, on the latter emphasising that it cannot be viewed in the same mirror everywhere.

“When you talk about the western values or prescriptions which they have been throwing around to other people, sometimes they don’t apply them to their own places. This is why I am saying it’s not just one thing that is put there and it explains everything,”

“We are not the west. If you want to measure everything against the western value system, that is what you are suggesting. And I am suggesting the western system doesn’t provide solutions to everything,” he said adding that other people, other places, other countries have their value systems as well and they are answerable to their own people.

“I am not trying to explain away some of the wrongs some leaders have done. I am saying, don’t pick one thing and think that it answers or it speaks to every problem about Africans,” President Kagame said.

He also debunked the argument of loyalty, dismissing the notion that he is a darling of the west and neither is he closer to China and allies as it is alleged, pointing out that he seeks partnerships and not to be a darling of anybody.

“I have not been seeking to be anybody’s darling. If anyone wants to make me their darling then that is their business. But I have been seeking partnership,”

“I want to work with people whether they are Africans or outside of Africa. I am very much for cooperation. What I don’t like is dictates that come from some parts of the world to Africa or to Rwanda. That one you will have a problem with me no doubt about it,” he said.

More details about the conversation can be found here .

Deadlock in Kampala

The week’s headlines were once again dominated by the Friday dialogue between Rwanda and Uganda in Kampala as the second meeting of the Adhoc Commission for the implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding convened at Speke Resort and Conference Centre Munyonyo.

Rwanda’s delegation was led by the State Minister for Foreign Affairs in charge of East African Community (EAC), Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe, while the Ugandan delegation was led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa.

Also on the Rwandan delegation is the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Johnston Busingye, Minister of Internal Security, Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, the Minister of Local Government Prof. Anastase Shyaka, the Secretary General of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) Maj. Gen Joseph Nzabamwita and the High Commissioner to Uganda Maj. Gen Frank Mugambage.

After more than 8 hours in a closed meeting, the two countries could not agree on the issues, both delegations agreeing to refer the matters to the Heads of State.

Nduhungirehe described the talks as ‘deep, open, frank and cordial’ but no agreement on a solution to the most contentious issues which are Uganda’s support to armed groups and illegal detention of Rwandans in Uganda.

“We agreed to refer the matter to our Heads of State” Nduhungirehe said. During the meeting, Nduhungirehe tabled 7 key concerns Rwanda has with Uganda. Details 

Ugandan Minister fingered in destabilising Rwanda

One of the outstanding issues that emerged during the Kampala dialogue was the Rwandan delegation providing evidence linking the Ugandan Minister of State for Regional Cooperation, Mateke Philemon, to the October attacks by armed groups in Musanze and Burera districts in Northern Province.

Philemon Mateke(Left) and an armed force member

It was revealed that during the night of 3rd leading to 4th October 2019, a deadly terror attack was carried out by a militia group known as RUD-Urunana, in the Kinigi sector of Musanze District, Northern Province, Mateke’s involvement was unearthed from the evidence picked from the location.

Nduhungirehe said that the attack was launched from eastern DRC, close to the Ugandan border and the Volcanoes National Park and most of the attackers were killed while some were captured alive.

Nduhungirehe revealed that an assortment of material evidence, including phone handsets, and testimonies of captured attackers, was collected and that’s how Matake’s involvement was discovered.

“One Ugandan telephone number appeared to have been in contact with the attackers both before and during the attack. And this number has been found to belong to the Hon Mateke Philemon, Uganda’s Minister of State for Regional Cooperation,” Nduhungirehe told the meeting.

Uganda is yet to address the issue, despite the elderly minister being fingered in a number of activities involving armed groups seeking to destabilise Rwanda. He was retained in the reshuffle announced over the weekend. Details 

Mboweni to stay on Twitter

Taking into consideration President Paul Kagame’s advice, South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced on Friday that he would be staying on Twitter, after threatening to leave the platform in October.

Mr Mboweni, who has a penchant of tweeting good things about Rwanda and Kigali in particular, was targeted by hate messages for his regular posts comparing Rwanda and his own country and for constantly referring to Rwanda as “my Rwanda”.

On October 30, the South African politician said he would be leaving the platform for its abusive nature but returned on December 10 after his latest trip to Rwanda to say that he was told his tweets had led to some people visiting Rwanda to verify what he was saying.

“I was in Kigali over this weekend and I was told that it is a bad idea for me to leave Twitter. I respect my Kigali friends. Fikile Mbalula told me the same thing. I am thinking about my decision. For now, my decision stands. Twitter is no longer a networked society but ABUSIVE,” he tweeted.

“I was told in Kigali that my tweets about Kigali have made the country well known to South Africans and that many are now visiting RWANDA. I can confirm that a South African confirmed to me on RwandAir that they visited the country to verify my impressions. They confirmed my views,” he added saying that he would announce his final decision on Friday.

President Kagame jumped into the debate and encouraged the SA Minister to stay the course and not give in to the hate. “Go back to tweeting you will be fine!! :)” President Kagame responded to Mboweni.

Well, on Friday as the world focused on Brexit, Mboweni announced that he would be staying on the social media platform. Details 

Habumugisha returns to face Justice

The week indeed was characterised by wanted businessman and Goodrich TV proprietor Dr Francis Habumugisha voluntarily returning home to continue facing charges of assault against Diane Kamali after several weeks of jumping bail.

Habumugisha caused a stir after he posted his photo in Paris on December 6, despite reports that he was wanted for jumping bail.

His post in Paris angered many on social media, with some calling him out for showing off his travels yet his victims are yet to get justice back home.

Habumugisha engaged in a series of exchanges on twitter, with some suspecting that he would probably seek asylum and avoid returning home for his trial but on Thursday last week, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Johnston Busingye announced that the businessman had returned and turned himself to Rwanda Investigations Bureau (RIB)

“Habumugisha Francis returned last night turned himself into RIB. Justice will now take its course,” he tweeted on Thursday while on Sunday he confirmed that Habumugisha was in custody.

“As Court Ordered that Habumugisha Francis be in detention pending his trial for assaulting Ms Diana Kamali, following his turning himself in to RIB, he is in RCS custody,” Minister Busingye confirmed on Sunday, adding a message against Gender Based Violence.

“Let all of us, each one of us, stand up, push back at and rid our country of, GBV,” Busingye said.

On October 7, the Nyarugenge Intermediate Court ruled that Habumugisha who had been released on bail in September should be re-arrested and continue trial while in detention but he was nowhere to be seen, with many wondering how he could have left the country.

Busingye said that Habumugisha is suspected to have used an illegal route to leave the country. RIB said that Habumugisha voluntarily turned himself in after he changed his mind on fleeing the country.

In July, during a meeting at Alliance in Motion Global, a multi-level marketing company dealing in health products, Habumugisha was caught on video attacking Kamali who was recording him on video as he insulted another employee.

Prosecutors said that Habumugisha attacked Kamali and destroyed her phone though he later offered to buy the phone and settle matters out of court.

In September, Kamali posted the video on Twitter and said that despite the matter being reported, no action had been taken against Habumugisha who reportedly boasted about being protected by people in high places.

President Kagame said the matter would be looked into. Eventually he was arrested only for him to be released on bail a couple of weeks later. Prosecution appealed the bail ruling and on October 7 court ruled in favour of cancelling the bail and ordered his re-arrest. However at the time of the ruling, he had already left the country.

New trial dates will be communicated.

Rwanda, Qatar ink airport deal

Another big story that dominated the headlines was the Rwanda-Qatar Airways airport deal which saw Rwanda and Qatar Airways agree to a joint venture to build a new international airport expected to be located in Bugesera district.

President Paul Kagame and the Amir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, witnessed the signing of the three agreements last week when the Qatari leader was in Kigali for the Anti-Corruption Excellence Awards and the International day against corruption.

Under the deal, Rwanda will have 40 per cent of the facility while Qatar Airways will claim a majority 60 per cent stake in the facility which is expected to cost some $1.3bn. A new name for the facility is going to be announced in the near future.

Portuguese developer Mota Engil is expected to remain on board as technical partners after Rwanda bought back the 75 percent shares the Portuguese company had in order for the new deal to be possible.

The Government of Rwanda’s shares are owned through Aviation Travel and Logistics Holdings under the new agreement which will see the airport redesigned and upgraded to meet international standards and act as a regional aviation hub.

According to the Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete, the new airport will have a capacity of 7 million passengers annually after completion of the first phase in 5 years’ time and 14 million passengers annually upon completion of the second phase by 2032. Details 

Anti-Corruption advocates awarded, sculpture unveiled

Rwanda hosted the 4th International Anti-Corruption Excellence Awards in a colourful ceremony which also saw President Kagame and the Amiir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani unveil the anti-corruption sculpture at Kigali Convention Centre (KCC).

The winners of the 4th ACE Awards were in different categories including the Lifetime or Outstanding Achievement Category Award which was won by former Zambian President and founding father Dr Kenneth Kaunda.

The Academic Research and Education Category was taken by Dr. Maria Krambia-Kapardis, an anti-corruption activist and scholar from Cyprus, together with Dr. Alban Koçi, a Law Professor at the University of Tirana, Albania.

In the category of Youth Creativity and Engagement Category, Jeunesses Musicales International (JMI), the largest youth music NGO in the world, with members and partner organizations in over 40 countries emerged the winners alongside Congolese anti-corruption whistle-blower Jean-Jacques Lumumba.

SEMA, an organization that gathers citizen voices to improve public services founded by Nathalie Djikman and Connor Sattely emerged winners for creating tools that enable citizens to give feedback on corruption emerged winners while Elnura Alkanova, an independent investigative journalist from Kyrgyzstan emerged among the seven winners.

President Kagame congratulated the winners, pointing out that they represent the very best of the fearless spirit and determination required to sustain zero tolerance against corruption.

The occasion coincided with the International Anti-Corruption Day which is celebrated every 9th of December annually. More details here

Rwanda Scraps Value Added Tax On Sanitary Pads

The decision to scrap Value Added Tax (VAT) on sanitary pads by the Government of Rwanda was one of the big stories that dominated the week.

It was hailed as a move in the right direction – towards making sanitary products affordable especially for girls from vulnerable families. Details here 

GDP Grew By 11.9% In Q3

Last week, the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) says the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 11.9 percent in the third quarter of 2019, with the Industry sector leading the way by registering a 14 per cent growth while the service sector contributed more to the economy.

The Director General of NISR Yusuf Murangwa said GDP at current market prices was estimated to be Rwf2, 358 billion, up from Rwf2, 065 billion in Q3 2018. Follow this link for more details.

Access to loans to be eased

The other good news last week was that Rwandans and Africans could soon start accessing big loans without being required to present collateral to financial institutions – thanks to an ongoing project under review by the Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) for Africa. Details