The Sunday Mail
Lawson Mabhena in KIGALI, Rwanda
VICE PRESIDENT Dr Constantino Chiwenga arrived here yesterday for commemorations to mark the International Day of Reflection on the Genocide in Rwanda, which saw Ethnic Hutu extremists slaughter over 800 000 minority Tutsis in just 100 days in 1994.
VP Chiwenga — who was met at Kigali International Airport by Zimbabwe’s charge de affairs at the Tanzanian Embassy Ambassador Martin Tavenyika and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade director for Africa, Asia and the Pacific Ambassador Alice Mageza — will take part in the commemorations before Zimbabweans join the people of Rwanda during an inaugural reflection, which will be held at Arrupe Jesuit University in Harare on Friday.
President Paul Kagame is this morning expected to light a remembrance flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where more than 250 000 victims are buried.
President Kagame, who led forces which defeated the extremists, will thereafter preside over a ceremony at the Amahoro National Stadium after which Rwanda will go into 100 days of national mourning.
Today’s commemorations are different in that France could finally take responsibility after 25 years.
On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron appointed a panel of experts to investigate France’s role in the genocide.
Rwanda has accused France of complicity in the mass killings — a charge repeatedly denied by Paris.
The experts will have access to presidential, diplomatic, military and intelligence archives.
Julien Allaire of Survie, a Paris-based non-governmental organisation that focuses on relations between France and Africa, told the BBC that there was already ample evidence of “France’s diplomatic, military and economic support for the Rwandan government before, during and after the genocide”.
Rwanda has, however, risen from the ashes of the genocide to become one of Africa’s leading fairytale economic and social stories.
Zimbabwe has since adopted a number of positives from Rwanda, including the National Clean-Up Day, which was declared as the first Friday of every month by President Mnangagwa on December 5 last year.
Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, is rated as one of the cleanest cities in the world as a result of a national clean-up done on the last Saturday of every month.
Also after learning from Rwanda, Government on Friday gazetted the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency Bill (HB 2, 2019) which seeks to establish a one-stop shop for investors.
Government’s move to establish the investment management body follows President Mnangagwa’s visit to Rwanda last year, where he was impressed by the strides made by the central African country since the 1994 genocide.
President Mnangagwa’s re-engagement drive led to the establishment of the Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda in Zimbabwe this year.
Previously under the leadership of former president Robert Mugabe, who left office in November 2017, the two countries grew apart.
“Our relations in the First Republic were not as good as in the Second Republic, but Rwanda has always been willing to relate with Zimbabwe because we share a similar history of the liberation struggle and oppression,” Rwandan Ambassador to Zimbabwe James Musoni told The Herald on Thursday.
Accompanying VP Chiwenga in Rwanda are senior Government officials.
VP Chiwenga, who returns today, left the country yesterday for the key event.