Ever since the United Kingdom and Rwanda signed the Migration and Economic Development Partnership (MEDP) on April 14, 2022, a lot has been said and written over the course of the past nearly two years.
As the two countries continue to work together to find a sustainable solution to the global migration crisis through the partnership that would see the UK relocate Rwanda migrants who illegally arrive in the European country, Rwanda has been subjected to undue negative and biased press.
During this period, which has seen a lot of back-and-forth in courts and parliament, several UK media outlets have tried their best to malign Rwanda and portray the country as an unsafe place for refugees or asylum seekers.
It is fair to say the smear campaign has been relentless, biased and misleading; one would think Rwanda is some sort of burning hellhole where barbarism and bloodshed reign, with citizens perishing in their numbers- a picture that is far from the reality.
At the forefront of this blitzkrieg of a smear crusade targeting Rwanda is the UK newspaper, The Guardian, which has been persistent in pumping out articles aimed at soiling and blackmailing Rwanda and her good intentions.
This weekend, the said newspaper decided that a crime committed in South Africa 12 years ago somehow manages to pass as ‘news’.
The story fails even the most basic tests of what is newsworthy. However, in today’s climate, journalists won’t let trivial things such as journalistic norms constrain them from attacking Rwanda to advance their own political agendas.
The story focuses on a violent crime which occurred in South Africa in 2012. The victim alleged that he was attacked because, as he described, he was labelled ‘an enemy of the [Rwandan] state’. The reality of the matter is this man wasn’t labelled anything – to be labelled, you must first be known.
The truth is far less interesting than the fantasy. The man was one of 608,724 victims of violent crimes committed in South Africa in 2012, and one of 16,236 attempted murders. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time doesn’t make for a great story, but in this case, this seems to be what happened.
The story also references the case of another Rwandan man living in the UK who claims he fears for his safety. Again, the man makes completely unsubstituted claims against the Rwandan government, without offering one piece of evidence. The only thing this man should be wary of is the crime rate in the UK. The UK Office of National Statistics recorded 2.1 million violent crimes in the last full year.
The Guardian piece fails to mention anything about the crime rates in South Africa, nor try and substantiate any of the claims of the two men as that would undercut their argument and prevent them from advancing their agenda. This isn’t true journalism.
In sections of the UK media, Rwanda has become a proxy for the Conservative Government’s migration policy. By attacking Rwanda, they land a blow against the government. This leads to them frantically digging up old nonsense stories concocted by people with their own political agendas, putting a fresh spin on it by connecting it to the Migration and Economic Development Partnership and calling it news.
Many of these outlets claim to be ‘progressive’. Since when is it ‘progressive’ to attack one of the world’s poorest countries? Slandering a country that has been striving to, and succeeding in, lifting our nation up from the ruins of the Genocide Against the Tutsi, simply because we offered to provide safety and opportunity to those who weren’t going to be allowed to stay in the UK?
Whipped up by the media frenzy, ‘Say no to Rwanda’ has been emblazoned on billboards and placards and chanted on the streets of London. In an alternate universe, where right-wing activists are frothing at the mouth while denouncing an African country, it would be the very same newspapers and activists calling out this blatant racism and xenophobia.
The irony of people living in countries where violent crime rates dwarf those in Rwanda calling our country unsafe is not lost on us. Nor is the irony of progressives attacking an African nation for offering to provide a safe home to vulnerable migrants. But when it comes to Rwanda, facts don’t seem to matter, especially when there’s political point-scoring to be done.