As Daniel Kahneman et al put it in their very instructive article in the last issue of Havard Business Review titled « Before You Make That Big Decision… », «people do sometimes lie deliberately, but self-deception and rationalization are more common problems ». Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame has mastered the art of self-deception and rationalization at a point where his preconcieved thoughts have replaced any rational assessment of the social reality of present Rwanda.
In July 1993, a mobilization strategy paper authored by then commissioner for political mobilization Musoni Protais realistically stated that Rwandans, both Hutus and Tutsis, perceived the Rwandese Patriotic Front as a Tutsi organization and that Hutus would probably not vote for it, come the end of the Arusha Peace Agreement 22-month transition. Nothing could be more true.
A wise leader would have concluded that what was needed to address that situation would be to set up a program aimed at changing the RPF itself and how it is perceived. Such a program would have consisted of spreading RPF mobilization efforts to the Hutu community as well, changing its mission, composition and operations so as to stop being the expression of the grievances of the Tutsi section of the Rwandan people only and rather becoming a national organization seeking to be an alternative ruling movement. This process could have obviously taken some time to bear fruits but it was the only rational decision that any rational leader could make.
Everybody knows that Paul Kagame did the opposite with the human cost we all know. He planned and ordered the shooting down of the presidential jet, knowing and even expecting that retaliatory mass killings would follow such a terrorist act. His cynical calulation was that this could justify resumption of war and seizure of State power by force, a goal his own aides had declared impossible to achieve by peaceful means.
Seventeen years down the road, the man continues to ignore facts and to rely on preconcieved notions in taking very big and tragic decisions. Although Rwandans still have the same perceptions about the RPF, the man still fears any open electoral confrontation. Instead of changing the RPF itself, has persistently pursued a protracted campaign of physically or through draconian laws, suppression of political competitors or any dissenting voices even those from within.
Deliberate lies are rationalized, packaged and spread all over the world via expensive and aggressive public relations campaigns. A big section of the Rwandan society percieved as hostile to his rule is treated as the enemy of the state.
A creeping genocide is underway with the objective of reducing its size through an aggressive and devastating vasectomy campaign that targets 700.000 Hutu males. Army, security, intelligence and administrative organs are organized and managed with the aim of having total control over that section of the national community. Education is organized in that ensures that Tutsis constitute the elite while Hutus provide unskilled or lower skilled manpower.
Cognitive scientists say that most of us rely more on intuitive thinking than reflective thinking causing us to be incapable of recognizing and correcting our own biases. The same rule applies to Paul Kagame. Since his rule doesn’t allow any legal and democratic challenge to his one-sided views, changes have to come from outside the system and probably against his will.
The United Democratic Forces, UDF-Inkingi whether registered or not, must be the engine of such a process. For us to succeed, we have to build an organized and disciplined movement capable of avoiding similar obscurantism from any individual that could reproduce strategic blunders and ill-informed decisions that led to the tragedies we have gone through.