This near-hysterical character assassination began after Kikwete's suggestion that Rwanda should talk to its armed rivals. While Kikwete made it clear that this was his personal opinion, the Kagame regime went into a rabid attack mode--sparing no insults. At first, there was a short-lived campaign to claim that Kikwete was of Hutu ancestry. Now that this hasn't worked, his wife seems to have become the perfect victim. Kagame happily plays the protagonist role.
But why waste time attacking the wife of a head of a state? If this is any indication, the Rwandan PR does tend to sink too low. I remember Barack Obama during the election cycle urging his opponents to stay clear from his family. It really does not augur well to go after the wife of a man that you deem your enemy. It is the epitome of cowardice and weakness.
"I will wait for you in a corner and hit you," Kagame lashed at Kikwete a few months ago. Rwandan bloggers have (I believe rightly so) urged Kikwete to take Kagame's threats seriously. After all, this is a leader who is described by some of his Tutsi tribesmen as a "serial killer." The blogs want to remind Kikwete that this is the same guy who is responsible for at least the deaths of four heads of state within the last two decades. They count Melchior Ndadaye (Burundi), Juvenal Habyarimana (Rwanda), Cyprien Ntaryamira (Burundi) and Laurent Kabila (DRC) among his victims. His blood for "presidential blood" has not quenched, they claim.
Back to the rumors. Is Salma Kikwete Hutu? When I mentioned to my friend about this rumor, his answer was "I wish God would turn that into truth." We live at a time when Hutu lives have lost any value. Read the latest reports by Human Rights Watch and you realize the level of slaughter going on in the Congo against Hutus directed by the Rwanda supported M23 rebels. The carnage is beyond despicable. And why wouldn't anyone wish for a biblical Esther to stop it?
That said, the attacks against Salma appear well coordinated. The rumors were first spread by Rwanda's journalist for hire, Andrew Mwenda through his Twitter. They were recirculated by the Kagame Twitter corps--a fanatic but well paid group whose only task is to tweet and retweet Rwandan propaganda. Within minutes, Kikwete was trending. As one Kagame loyalist tweeted: "Rwanda's are unrelenting when they make you an enemy."
While the campaign's sole goal is to silence Kikwete, the irony is that Kikwete has been largely mute. He has refrained from answering back to Rwanda and has maintained unprecedented restrain.
The cable that fanatically spreads the "news" does not ponder to notice the irony. Why would it be a problem (even if it were true) if Salma is indeed Hutu? She is not a Tanzanian head of state and Kikwete has every right to choose who he desires for a wife. This is strictly personal business that we have no permission to poke our noses into. Here is another similar case: many Rwandans know quite well that the leader of Interahamwe, Robert Kajuga, was Janet Kagame's guardian. Should we then associate Kagame's wife with Interahamwe?
While rumors have always been the main instrument for Rwandan politics, they appear to be intentional. Their goals are always sinister. Those who are old enough remember a time when Habyarimana's wife was rumored to be Tutsi. The insinuation here was that RPF infiltrators had gained entry into Habyarimana's household. Now Kagame's propagandists shamelessly repeat similar garbage.
Me thinks there must be something more important to do in Kigali than to make all kinds of rumors about someone's wife. As some Rwandan bloggers have wisely suggested, let's focus on ending malnutrition, which affects sixty percent of Rwandan children