Interview: Rwanda’s unconventional approach resolved the 1994 genocide against Tutsi

Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to Zimbabwe, James Musoni chronicled how Rwanda has fared since the 1994 genocide.

April 7, 2024 marks the start of Rwanda’s Kwibuka 30, the 30th commemorations of the Genocide against the Tutsi ethnic group, which began on April 7, 1994. This year, commemorations are being held under the theme, “Remember Unite Renew”.

NewsDay Digital and Online editor Silence Mugadzaweta (ND) interviewed ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to Zimbabwe, James Musoni (JM) who chronicled how Rwanda has fared since the 1994 genocide.

ND: The Republic of Rwanda is commemorating 30 years after the genocide against the Tutsi. Kindly share with us how the journey has been so far, can you highlight the challenges and successes?

JM: After the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, the country faced immense challenges as it grappled with the aftermath of this devastating event such as: human loss and trauma where over one million lives were lost, infrastructure destruction, displacement and disruption where millions of people were displaced from their homes and a post-genocide unity creation.

Rwanda needed an unconventional approach to deal with the deep breach of the social fabric that began even before the genocide.

Despite the immense challenges, Rwanda has made remarkable success. The country has focused on rebuilding to ensure that genocide never happens again. The successes are evident in our resilient communities, fast growing economy, good governance and restored national identity. Thanks to the extraordinary leadership of His Excellency  Paul Kagame.

ND: Can you explain the significance of the commemorations of the genocide against the Tutsi to Rwanda and Africa?

JM: By acknowledging our painful history, we honour the victims and ensure that their suffering is not forgotten, it seeks to unite people in the fight against the crime of genocide, genocide ideology and genocide denial as well as encouraging a collective commitment to justice where perpetrators wherever they may be, are held accountable.

The commemoration of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi holds deep significance for Rwanda and the African continent. It serves as a solemn reminder of the dangers of hate and division while reinforcing our commitment to unity, peace and reconciliation. These commemorations are vital in educating the younger generations and the international community, ensuring that the world never forgets and that such history never repeats itself.

ND: How has the journey of national healing and reconciliation been so far? What else needs to be done to bring people together?

JM: Rwanda’s journey towards healing and reconciliation has not been easy but the country serves as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of forgiveness. The reconciliation process in Rwanda focused on reconstructing the Rwandan identity, inclusive and people-centred governance, as well as balancing justice and peace and security in the country.

ND: Rwanda’s Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unity (GFTU) indicated that it has issued 1 146 indictments and arrest warrants against genocide fugitives in 33 countries. Are these countries co-operating? What challenges are you facing in this regard?

JM: The Genocide Fugitives Tracking Unit plays a crucial role in seeking justice for the victims of the genocide. We have seen varying levels of co-operation from international partners, where some countries have actively collaborated in apprehending fugitives and others are still reluctant. However, Rwanda remains committed to pursuing justice, emphasising the importance of global solidarity in bringing genocide perpetrators to justice.

ND: How has dissemination of hate speech and politicisation of identity affected your efforts at peace and reconciliation?

JM: Hate speech undermines the fundamental rights and values of people as well as social cohesion. Rwanda has taken significant steps to prevent hate speech and politicisation of identity through legislation, education, and community programmes. Of course challenges still exist because in our region hate speech and politicisation of identity are visible.

ND: What steps has Rwanda taken to improve bilateral relations with Zimbabwe?

JM: Rwanda and Zimbabwe enjoy cordial relations cemented by their diplomatic representation in each other’s capital. Both Countries have actively worked to enhance bilateral relations, focusing on diplomatic, trade, investment and cultural exchanges. So far over 20 MoUs and agreements have been signed between our two countries and are being implemented. For example, the Rwanda-Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference that took place in Kigali last month provided a platform for cementing business deals by private sector actors. These efforts reflect our shared goals of development, peace and prosperity.

Related Topics