Rwanda: Sterilizing the poor to pave way for development. Whose development? (14.02.11)

INCLUDEPICTURE « » * MERGEFORMATINET Rwandeses, whose their house has been destroyed by the government

By Charles Kambanda, PhD

The government of Rwanda is infrequently short of controversy. This time it is not declaring legendary international human rights advocates and journalist persona non grata. It is not the callous Gacaca courts. Neither is it jailing journalist for close to two decades for defaming the president and threatened national security by re-producing a United Nations report accusing Rwandan troops of war crimes, crimes against humanity and, possibly, genocide. In controversy is the Minister of Health’s announcement of what the government of Rwanda calls voluntary vasectomies (sterilizing) of 700,000 males between 2011 and 2013. The target group is men who cannot pay bills for their children’s upkeep. The poor who make over 75% of Rwanda’s population are only uncertain of when their males will be sterilized.

In issue is not whether the country needs sound family planning policy. Whether the political elite will stick to voluntary vasectomies is the main concern. Conceptualizing “voluntary” vasectomies in Rwanda’s contemporary public policy, history gloss and politics is utterly crucial. The timing of sterilizing 700,000 males raises red flags. In Rwanda’s social political environment that swivels on passivity, apathy, suspicion and docile citizenry with militarized “civil society”, securing free will of the males to be sterilized boarders insanity.

Who is the poor? The answer appears to have puzzled Jesus Christ and his disciples in the Bible. It is no conundrum in Rwandan society. The deprived are the Twa (a secluded ethnic group). The needy are the Hutu peasants who survived the Congo refugee camps massacres. The hard-up in Rwandan society are those few Tutsi survivors of genocide who have not benefited from the genocide survivors’ fund. The underprivileged are the Hutu populace that was uprooted from their land, without compensation, under the habitant and land reform government policy. The poor are those Tutsi returnees who have no close relations in the Tutsi dominated government. The bitter fact is that poverty in Rwanda runs along the country’s ethnic divides. The poor are mostly victims of the country’s unresolved ethnic and power sharing crisis.

History is seldom a bad teacher. However, people are hardly good students of history. Rwanda’s post independence history, not different from the country’s pre-independence era, insinuates a constant fight between the Hutu (majority ethnic group, about 86%) and the Tutsi (minority ethnic group about 14%). The Twa are hardly 1%. Growing or dropping in numbers of either ethnic group is an issue for each ethnic group’s political and physical survival. The Hutu-Tutsi co-existence failed on win-win modus operandi. The victor seeks to depopulate the looser, at least to delay the other ethnic group’s violent return into power. War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide have long been a “social engineering” and depopulation strategy geared at incapacitating the loser in the country’s power grabbing paradigm. In 1959 it was some Hutu’s turn to ‘depopulate’ the Tutsi. In the 1980s a Hutu led government flocked the Tutsi to cannibals and crocodiles in the country’s national park – Akagera. Although scholars disagree on whether the 1994 genocide was committed by only the Hutu against the Tutsi, the scholars appear to concur that genocide was a strategy to “tame” the enemy’s unmanageable and unwanted population. The brutal massacres of the Hutu refugees in Congo, that the United Nations’ Mapping report accuses the Tutsi dominated Rwandan troops of, could also be viewed from this perspective. With growing international enforcement of laws on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, Rwandan society appears vulnerable to apparent legal methods of birth control like “voluntary” vasectomies; to achieve the traditional ethnic depopulation conspiracy.

Sociologists, philosophers and psychologists have long discussed whether a poor person can make choices. Do the poor have a free will? Rwandan government does not appear uptight about this paradox. The poor, who cannot nourish their children are said to be going for “voluntary” vasectomies. This is the proverbial hiding of the head in the sand. If poverty be a criterion for vasectomies, free will cannot exist. If the policy be voluntary, the 700,000 men (specific) target contradicts what the government of Rwanda calls voluntary vasectomies. Last year, 2010, the vice-president of Rwanda’s Parliament marketed, in vain, a policy proposal for compulsory sterilization of the “socially retarded” Rwandans. It took excessive efforts by international human rights organization to thwart the policy proposal. The 2011“voluntary” vasectomies policy may be a continuum of the 2010 policy proposal.

Public policy analysts consent that current latent public policy ideas and motives, of any country, must be read in similar previous policy. First, the government of Rwanda implemented the habitant and land reform policy. People were supposed to abandon their traditional homestead and go to live in settlement centers – imidugudu. The previous homesteads were meant to be for farming. Initially the government called it a voluntary policy. Implementation of this policy turned out forceful and inhuman. Some government officials snatched victory in the jazz of defeat; they grabbed the land people had abandoned for settlement centers. Second, the government’s policy of what was called voluntary sharing of land between owners (Hutu) and the returnees (Tutsi) ended into forceful grabbing of land from the Hutu in many regions of the country. Will vasectomies of the unprivileged males be voluntary as the government suggests?

Self-propagation is a basic need and right. However, producing excessive children, like many Rwandans do, is a symptom of insecurity and poverty. There is a general demographic pattern for the well-off to produce between one to three children. The deprived generally produce more than six children. It is no surprise that in a country like Rwanda, where about 75% of the population survives on less that $1 a day, population is increasing by 3% per annum. If quantity of the population be a problem, vasectomies are not a durable solution. The first beneficiary of development is the human person. Quality of a country’s human resources and not quantity is what matters. Investing in human development is the only sustainable solution. Rwandan government has sustained one of the most expensive wars in Africa. It is well documented that Rwanda has one of the biggest and most armed military in the Great region of Africa. Rwanda runs the most expensive President personal security unit in Africa. Rwanda’s economy is said to be doing well. Ironically, money is available. How does quantity of the population become a problem that requires dire questionable voluntary vasectomies?

Human history demonstrates habitual failure by some leaders to reconcile existence of the poor in an environment the political leadership project as prosperous. Adolf Hitler exterminated the Gypsies along side the Jews because the Gypsies (the poor) would negate the economic prosperity of the Germany (the Volk). The world takes serious protection of the poor. Denying people the right to self propagation on basis of their failure to meet costs for their children ought to be an issue of utmost concern for the international community. Targeting the poor with vasectomy is presumed forceful because the poor always lack free will. Vasectomy in this unique Rwandan context might amount to a crime against humanity. The essence and function of government is redistributing resources and power among the citizens. Vasectomy in Rwandan context manifests government failure to perform its core functions and responsibilities. The policy mirrors incivility, lack of public conscience and negates the basic ethical tenets.

Done on this 10th day of February, 2011

Charles KM KAMBANDA, Dip.Phil., BA., LLB., MA.ETPM., MBA., MA.HRTs., .LLM, PhD

St. John’s University Law School

LLM Center

New York, US

HYPERLINK « » t « _blank » leprophete (lundi, 14 février 2011 22:20)

good analysis

Liliose (lundi, 14 février 2011 22:38)

You, the so called doctor, where did you get the figure that they will sterilise 700,000 males? What do you gain in propagating wrong information? A target to circumcise 700,000 males is very different from sterilising them. That number you all keep branding around is mere propaganda. Go on the ministry’s website, you will see by yourself that you are misleading whoever read your posting. Why are you so evil? Rwandese know what they want, they are not ready to listen to people like you. The vascectomy you are so much talking about, when done, is voluntary and is done with the constent of both the husband and wife. Many of the people who undergo this procedure are in their late 40’s or fifties and have no less than three children. This procedure is not done to people who are young and is not done for couples with less than three children. If you want to fight any government program, do so with facts you can back and prove. On this one, you have failed.

Liliose (lundi, 14 février 2011 22:42)

And so far, only 400 vascectomy have been perfom since 2008. I can see that you are a PHd holder, do your math, with this rate, how many male do you think will have undergone this in year 2013. My guess is probably 400 more. The estimation would make it close to 800 (eight hundred people) between 2008 and 2013. Make a comparison between 800 people and 700,000 people, a number, you are citing to mislead people. You are just evil and evil people always end up distroying themseves.

HYPERLINK « » t « _blank » Biggie (mardi, 15 février 2011 09:32)

The Doctor is right. This has been reported in the rwanda’s media and only the ministry reversed its decison in the new times after some few days, for your information, look for CFM news where it ran interview with Dr. Ntawukiryayo on that contraversies surfaced in Rwanda.What re u talking about your commentators??? probably u are not informed by what happens here in Rwanda insteady of lelying on Ministry’s websites, Keep it up Charlez.

sash (mardi, 15 février 2011 10:45)

but my question with all due respect is: other than the fact that vasectomy is done my men, what is the difference between this and any other kind of birth control method that has been practiced by women for years now? Isn’t vasectomy done by so many couples where this doctor leaves? isn’t it a voluntary method of birth control? Isn’t this method reversible and am sure this so called doctor knows this as well.

what is shocking is how he relates a birth control method to ethnic lines, poverty and all these things. In my view, it must be someone feeling academic and wanting to appear intellectual whereas not. sir write a real well researched paper about vasectomy, contextualize it (even when against it) and we will respect that. Otherwise this looks like cut and paste material and you trying to relate it to a topic you even do not understand. (mardi, 15 février 2011 17:37)

This is not an order my dear friends!This is one among many family planning methods which can be used in our country!

No one is forced to be sterilized,it is a volonteer action!

The analysis of this poor Doctor is not at all true.

Charles Kambanda ,you should know that the more you give wrong information ,the more you destroy the behavior of poeple and you do this wrongly.

Your are not a real Doctor ,you are a people mind’s killer

Jon Boss (mercredi, 16 février 2011 02:20)

with all this rich tittles of ur education en u mislead people like that.Atleast i know yu are very aware of the GOOD Rwanda u lived before left en after u left Rwanda is miles away developing, may be u need to come again en witness where we have reached.Kambacha that’s evil.

sembabure (mercredi, 16 février 2011 09:01)

it’s a pity to read such so called research of a so called PHD man;i think he is a PERMENENT HEAD DESTROYED;coz before going away from rwanda he was a lecturer at national university of Rwanda and he has been dismissed for several disciplinary behaviour;during his courses he was used to set examples oriented to sex;so he is a sex-oriented man and he has no moral judgement,and i am not suprised to see such go to hell with your PHD

Ben (mercredi, 16 février 2011 09:33)

As if your destruction of the Rwandan community at KIU was not enough, now i see you are using your « PHD » to your own Inanity.

Anyway, hope you grow to see your tail.

Ndaje (mercredi, 16 février 2011 09:51)

Hello Mr Kambanda Charles the  »Dr »;

Why do you abuse your education by making a wrong and misleading analysis. I have had you several times on the BBC kinyarwanda expressing your self in this way. How do you feel when you undermine your education by making unfounded comments on a well known policy? We live in Rwanda we know what is done here, why do you take us(Rwanadans) as fools to fool around with your evil intentions.

How do you bring in Ethinic issues in this family planning method? how do you bring in the Gacaca courts which is recommended by Rwandans, how do you bring in the ……..

Please be serious and forward shameless ideas about the Government policies. Thats not the way people make themeselves known as educated and PHD Holder as you used to tell us when you were still at the University of Rwanda. Am One of your students but am very much disappointed by this misleading article you have posted here. Try to be a good example to us(your students) than showing us a diffrent image even though not surprising. Nice time

Gahutu (mercredi, 16 février 2011 11:41)

Dr Kambanda, it is very clear that your hate for the current government has seriously clouded your judgement and reasoning. Insinuating that the governemnt is using sterilization as a means of forcefully depopulating one group of the population is nothing short of academic deficiency on your part. Everything you have said is simply wrong and anyone can see that your post is very devoid of logic, truth and academic analysis.

NANA (mercredi, 16 février 2011 13:54)

You are so stupid and crazy

dada (mercredi, 16 février 2011 15:00)

May be your Dr. is in Hating Rwanda?

It is my first time to see a baseless and stupid argument from someone like a Dr, normally we believe people of such a profile to base their arguments on fact and not on hate!but Kambanda we all know you & not surprised because the best you can is such a trash!shame upon you,you are a just acrap!

rwanda nziza (mercredi, 16 février 2011 17:43)

it could be better, mr PHD to come to rwanda and contribute to the development of the country with your PHD rather than writing while you are well off in USA. your henious writing doesn’t serve anyone. It is only destructive mr PHD.

mario (jeudi, 17 février 2011 07:52)

nabivugaga kuva cyera turi ibutare ngo Kambanda ni gipingamizi none dore ahaa ngo yavuye ibugande sawa rero reka avuge ni twe twamureze.

Dada (jeudi, 17 février 2011 18:10)

Abahutu bagiye kubagabanya nabo. Nicyo gihano leta yatanze cyo guhorera abatutsi. Kandi Kagame azakora ishyano. Gubuza abahutu kubyara ni ishyano mu bantu. Nyabuna abazi ubwenge nimutabare

kwangu mimi (jeudi, 17 février 2011 21:09)

I know Kambanda so well.

He has all the qualifications he claims to hold.

He’s brilliant,but this time round he has lost it!Well articulated without an iota of patriotism.

I wish he’d come out from a purely academic angle rather than this.

I hope and pray he’s not being used.Hope he’s too bright for a puppet.

To all of us,let’s appreciate other people’s views without harassment.

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