Home Voices Rwanda’s Elections: A Legitimate Show of RPF Dominance

Rwanda’s Elections: A Legitimate Show of RPF Dominance

by Ignatius R. Kabagambe
12:45 am

Rwandans are gearing up for the presidential and parliamentary elections next month. Three candidates will compete: Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Paul Kagame representing the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), and independent candidate Phillippe Mpayimana.

Democracy is crucial to a society because it ensures that power is derived from the consent of the governed, fostering accountability, transparency, and representation. In the developing world, democracy should aim at electing a leader who is most competent and able to deliver goods and services to nations still largely impoverished.

In the case of Rwanda, Paul Kagame of the RPF has proven his competence over the 24 years he has led the country. Rwanda is a multiparty democracy, yet other major political parties have chosen to endorse the RPF’s candidate in a voluntary coalition driven by politics of consensus. This is due to overwhelming satisfaction with Kagame’s record in uniting a once severely divided society, fostering transparency, and spearheading rapid socioeconomic development.

It’s not that the other parties lack political ambition or desire to lead. Rather, political discourse in Rwanda has increasingly favored transformative opportunities over the past three decades, pushing aside the desire for power for its own sake.

As Rwanda heads into an election where the outcome is highly predictable, with the RPF expected to win decisively, some question if this predictability is a cause for concern. German media giant DW published a story titled, “Rwanda: Are the Upcoming Elections Just for Show?” The article features quotes from Rwandans suggesting a lack of competition and a predetermined outcome:

“I don’t think there is much that will change. It is just a ritual that happens after a few years. It’s all pre-determined.”

“I am 100% sure that President Kagame will win again.”

“The expectation is that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (Paul Kagame’s party) will win because that has been the case.”

These quotes imply approval of the electoral process in Rwanda, yet are interpreted by DW as indicative of a lack of competition and a closed political space. The classic Western media narrative often praises Kagame for economic transformation but criticizes him for human rights abuses and intolerance toward political opposition.

This brings us back to the argument that democracy in a country like Rwanda should be evaluated within the context of its unique historical background and current situation. Is it legitimate or logical to question or be inconvenienced by the RPF and Kagame’s dominance given their proven record and growing capacity to deliver on national transformational goals?

One individual quoted, Ndushabandi, believes the elections occur simply to “please the donors to show that there is some semblance of democracy.” This raises several questions:

1. Does the West truly have Rwanda’s interests at heart?
2. Are Western entities genuinely more knowledgeable about Rwanda’s priorities than its own citizens?
3. Is there ignorance or a more sinister motive behind the West’s desire for change in Rwanda?
4. Do Western powers realize that discerning Rwandans see through these schemes and are increasingly emboldened to push back?
5. Are they insensitive to accusations of applying double standards when it comes to democracy?
6. How can anyone admire exceptional performance yet call for the premature end of such a performer?

To answer DW’s question: Yes, Rwanda’s elections are a clean and transparent display of the RPF’s well-earned dominance. This dominance is legal, legitimate, and deserved. Rwandans take pride in showcasing this reality, with no guilt or hesitation.

Every single one of the 14 million Rwandans knows who the winner will be: Paul Kagame of the RPF. From this perspective, the campaigns and elections can be seen as a show of power to a West that stubbornly seeks an undue influence in Rwanda’s affairs.

There has never been an African leader more determined to push back against external interference or more impactful in transforming a nation against the worst odds than Paul Kagame. Contemplating change under his leadership would be not just foolish but potentially disastrous for Rwanda’s progress.

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