Rwanda: What Is France 24 Agenda On Rwanda?

By Alain Billen*

Constitutional changes pave the way for President Kagame to seek additional terms
Constitutional changes pave the way for President Kagame to seek additional terms

In a clear effort to discredit Rwanda France 24 – a French media outlet, through its website, manipulates its readers and in the process, undermines its credibility.

France 24 manipulates its readers and one of the glaring examples is a photo of Goma, the city in eastern DRC, which was used to illustrate poverty in Rwanda!

France 24, which wants to focus on poverty in Rwanda, uses a photo of Congolese traders carrying their goods on wooden carts, in the city of Goma, located in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).

This photo is no longer available online alongside the story; it was later changed and replaced by another one which shows a beggar, in an unidentified city. If the intent was not to manipulate readers, how else would you illustrate the poverty of a country using a photo from another country?

To find beggars, one would have to look for them because, apart from some specific neighborhoods, they are not many in the streets of Kigali.

This is all the more surprising because Kigali, Rwanda’s capital is the most secure and cleanest city in Africa, with paved and lit streets, comparable to any European city.

One has just to look across the Rwanda-DRC border to immediately grasp the considerable gap between “modernity and wealth” of a country such as Rwanda and the “the endemic poverty” of the DRC, without even crossing to the other side.

Leave us alone!

“According to information obtained by France 24, the Rwandan authorities have manipulated the latest official statistics on poverty” is the title of the article published on November 2 on “France 24” website.

It is to this that many Rwandans would like to respond: ‘Leave us alone!’, a title of a nice article written a few days ago by a Rwandan blogger, Kevin Gatete.

France is arrogant and oftentimes positions herself as a lesson-giver.

However, when it comes to Rwanda, one would expect France to be more discrete; having trained, supported and armed the genocidal government.

Also worth recalling is the ambiguous role played by France in Rwanda to maintain its interests and positions in this part of Africa, especially in its former colonies.

If you dissect the publication of this French government media outlet, one is inclined to question the credibility of the sources used in this rather disgraceful article.

The primary sources are “anonymous”, which confirms the suspicious and sneaky nature of this article.

The only person named as “a leading expert on Rwanda,” is a Belgian citizen Filip Reyntjens, who hasn’t set foot in Rwanda for over fifteen years. And for good reasons.

Indeed, for several years, Filip Reyntjens was advisor to former President Habyarimana and other senior officials, who would later become perpetrators of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

The Belgian ‘expert’ participated in the drafting of the constitution in force at the time of the tragedy, which entrenched inclusion of “ethnic groups” in Rwandan identity cards. It is this particular stipulation that helped génocidaire to identify children, men and women as targets for slaughter.

At no time, while the genocide in Rwanda was being perpetrated, did Filip Reyntjens speak out to dissociate himself from politicians of the time, or at least their action of exterminating the Tutsi.

Being close to the former regime, one can understand his frustrations today.

However, it is incomprehensible that a respectable media organisation like France 24 is unable to discern a reliable and impartial source from a compromised one, yet is common knowledge that Reyntjens is an outspoken opponent of the current government in Kigali.

The best one can deduce is that this is either mediocrity or a calculated move to disseminate harmful and unverified information to undermine the reputation of Rwanda.

Then one is compelled to question; why is France 24 and France in general, desperate to paint a negative image of a country that serves as an example for other nations?

According to the report “World Economic Forum – 2015”, Rwanda is the 7th best-governed country in the world, ahead of nations like Belgium, France and even Germany.

Interestingly, Laure Redifer a senior official of the International Monitory Fund (IMF), an institution that has, for years, closely watched Rwanda’s economic trajectory, recently categorically refuted the narrative advanced by France 24 in the article.

“I saw with my own eyes, and the transformation of Rwanda in recent years confirms what the numbers on poverty show. We have no reason to doubt these figures. From my personal experience, those figures are easily confirmed on the ground.”

Redifer went on to categorically refute the article by “France 24” and its sources, adding that the IMF is impressed with the quality and reliability of Rwandan statistics.

*Source The New Times/Allafrica

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