Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Rwandan President Kagame Criticizes Africa’s Dependence on Foreign Aid, Says Rwanda Encourages ‘Okada’ Operators
President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame said today that the motorcycle business is a lucrative one in the transport sector in his country and that he has had no reason to ban the machines from the roads.
Mr. Kagame was speaking in an interactive session he had with Nigerian youths and entrepreneurs in Lagos, where commercial motorcycles, widely-known as ‘Okada,’ were recently banned from major urban centres.
Kagame criticized the dependence on foreign aid by African countries and the use of the International Criminal Court (ICC), by some power-holders.
He also spoke on other diplomatic and youth-related issues, and fielded questions from participants, some of whom described situations in their country and sought comparisons between both countries in their handling of their challenges.
Kagame expressed the view that the ICC has been reduced to a court that is only used to victimize helpless Africans. He said most of the criminal offences for which accused persons were taken to the ICC could be handled by those countries on their own.
He also raised concern over the operation of the Universal Jurisdiction principle, which he said presupposes that accused persons could be tried anywhere they have committed a crime regardless of their nationality. He also suggested that the principle seemed to have only been picking on Africans.
“Be it in Asia, Europe, America or Africa, it means that they [accused persons] could be tried where they have committed those crimes,” the president said. “But is appears it has only been used on Africans, perhaps it means that it is only in Africa that those offences are being committed.”
He suggested that Africa could create its own court to try matters that were being taken to the ICC.
“To get rid of these concerns, I feel Africa should have its own court to try matters bordering on Africa so that we know that matters taken to ICC actually merit going there.
He further suggested that the ICC should intervene only in situations where the countries are unable to handle the matter on their own, or when the government of a country by itself requests the intervention of the ICC.
The Rwandan President also said he perceives that the ICC was being used by politically-motivated officials to hunt their opponents. He mentioned an example in March 2012 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, people were recommended for arrest by the ICC, whereas those recommending those arrests were worse criminals or were as guilty as those they had recommended for arrest.
On food aid, Kagame condemned the dependence of African countries on food aid from some supposed advanced foreign countries, expressing pride that Rwanda has stopped the practice in favour of local production.
“We decided to stop those importing food aid and we said, look, if we equip our own farmers, we would put food on our tables”.
Asked by a questioner about the ban on ‘Okada’ in Lagos and other parts of the country, Kagame astonished the audience by saying that Rwanda has commercial motorbikes too, and that it is orderly and profitable.
“What we did was not to interfere so much in motorcycles affairs because we saw that whoever did would pay for it,” he stated.
“All we did was to help them organize well in order to ensure that they operate in orderly manner. One of such ways was helping them to form co-operative society among them and to see to better management of their affairs. Although we discovered that most of the Okadas belong to even people in the Government, but whoever it belonged to, all that mattered to us was to ensure that they operate orderly; motorcycle is a lucrative business.”
President Kagame advocated that youths from Nigeria and Rwanda as well as other countries in Africa should come together and surmount their territorial borders to help Africa.
“Africa needs young people. Young people have new energies; young people have new ideas. And it is the rights of the young people as well, because as they participate in this process, they shape their own futures too,” he said.
Mr. Kagame has been President of Rwanda since 2000, his government criticized as autocratic and restrictive of freedom of expression. He has promised to step down in 2017.