Bishop Mbanda on Hutu Politicians

Bishop Laurent Mbanda
Bishop Laurent Mbanda

Writing in 1997, current Anglican Bishop Laurent Mbanda derided Hutus who left the RPF government of Rwanda:

Some of the Hutus who were invited by the RPF to participate in the broad-based government forsook their responsibilities and decided to leave the country, to be involved in activities whose purpose is to disturb and sabotage the reconstruction of the country. 1)Page 105 of Mbanda’s book Committed to Conflict.

Mbanda is referring to the resignations of Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu, Seth Sendashonga, Immaculée Kayumba, Alphonse-Marie Nkubito and Jean-Baptiste Nkuriyingoma. All of these ministers left the government due to the developing Tutsi domination at all levels of the government and over RPF revenge pogroms carried out on Hutus. Mbanda’s characterization of these brave souls as traitors is utterly untrue. Stephen W. Smith tells us about this same incident through the eyes of Seth Sendashonga, later assassinated in Kenya:

Nairobi, February 1996, two years into the new RPF dispensation in Rwanda. As I speak to Seth Sendashonga, his vivid eyes are glazed with sadness. I have just spent several weeks in Rwanda, and have returned bearing notepads full of crimes. It isn’t as if he doesn’t know what happened: on the contrary, I’d leaned heavily on Sendashonga’s contacts in Rwanda. In 1991, when he joined the RPF, Sendashonga was the only eminent Hutu-turned-rebel who was not a defector from the Habyarimana regime. He undertook to rewrite the rebels’ political platform, to explain to the children of exile what the land of their fathers was like and, more important, to build bridges with opposition parties in Rwanda. ‘Our agenda is not revenge but true democracy,’ he assured them. Under the new regime, Sendashonga became Kagame’s minister of the interior. But he could not accept the RPF’s reprisals for the genocide, including planned massacres and systematic killings. Kagame failed to respond to any of the 700 letters documenting abuses which Sendashonga sent him. Eventually, Sendashonga had to face the fact that he was only another front man. Six months before we met in Nairobi, he resigned and went into exile. 2)Smith, Rwanda in Six Scenes.

Bishop Mbanda may not have been aware of all the facts when he wrote in 1997. In light of the many accounts of these events that we have now, I hope that Mbanda would retract this criticism of the brave souls who left the government in 1996. However, as late as 2009 he was praising the current authoritarian leadership in this interview:

The country enjoys peace, security throughout and visionary leadership. It is a story of success and model of good governance in the region.

Given this rosy view of a leader who rules with an iron fist, Bishop Mbanda’s judgement on all these matters is called into question.

References   [ + ]

1. Page 105 of Mbanda’s book Committed to Conflict.
2. Smith, Rwanda in Six Scenes.

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