Rwanda's President Paul Kagame
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame

Having been formed by exiles and refugees in 1987, Rwanda’s Patriotic Front (RPF) last week celebrated its Silver Jubilee (25 years). Our Reporter who was in Kigali, witnessing the festivities for almost two weeks, critically observed certain things which make RPF a unique party. We hereby present her observations in form of its secrets:

Business party

With exception of Obote’s UPC in Uganda, RPF is perhaps one of the few parties in East African Community bloc which openly do business. Leaders like Gen Paul Kagame and foreign affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo defend RPF’s conspicuous presence on business scene on grounds this was out of necessity imposed by Rwanda’s unique circumstances.

Kagame says that as of 1994 when RPF took over, both private and public enterprises had collapsed yet the state had to function. RPF, which had been fundraising when still a rebel force and doing business here and there, had to fill the vacuum. However, caution had to be exercised later as things normalized whereby Kagame ensures RPF companies don’t do much business with government, which they control.

This mitigates against conflict of interest. Its therefore not surprising as part of 25 year celebration, Kagame commissioned $10m worth construction works to erect the party’s permanent headquarter complex which will also have rentable space for further income generation. Critics though, like Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa and Col Patrick Karegyeya, have accused Kagame of personalizing RPF-owned businesses. RPF could easily be the richest party in East Africa.

Museveni attentively listens to Kagame's jokes
Museveni attentively listens to Kagame’s jokes at the RPF silver jubilee celebrations recently

18 v. 25 years

Majority people look at RPF in terms of the 18 years (counting from 1994) it has been in power but in actual sense the party, that was initially an underground movement comprising Tutsi refugees and exiles in Uganda, commenced in 1987, only one year after NRA’s very revolutionary war in which Tutsi refugees aided, had taken power.

Kagame and his wife humble themselves during a prayer
Kagame and his wife humble themselves during a prayer

RPF evolved from Rwanda’s Patriotic Army (RPA) whose revolutionary orientation necessitated formation of a party or political wing called RPF. As of 1994, RPA had 18,000 soldiers but one year later it had grown to 50,000 due to reconciliation processes which integrated some of the ex-FAR soldiers of Habyarimana they had fought against.

Strict Discipline

RPF observes strict code of discipline consolidated by its coherent structure. At the apex is a National Executive Committee (NEC) below which is a Political Bureau which supervises branches at provincial, district, sector and cell levels. It also has an elaborate network in academic and other institutions for recruitment purposes.

This structure also provides for an inbuilt espionage network whereby dissent will easily be identified and pacified. Subordinates are strictly required to obey their superiors and this level of discipline, according to Kagame, is what makes RPF strong and exemplary to majority Rwandans.

Reaching Hutus

Kagame admits initially the Hutus were skeptical having been indoctrinated to think RPF was a Tutsi party which an anti-Rwanda agenda. But continuous ideological orientation demystified this and made Hutus realize RPF deserved a chance on the strength of its ideology regardless of its founders’ ethnic background.

In the end, Hutu and Tutsi have equal chance to rise to positions in RPF whose pioneer President Pasteur Bizimungu was actually a Tutsi deputized by Kagame. Some of RPF founders include Gen Fred Rwegyema, Col Alexis Kanyarengwe, Maj. Peter Muyingana, Aloysia Inyumba and Modesta Rutabayiru-all of them deceased. Those still living include Tito Rutaremara, Bosco Mugengana, Portais Musoni, Innocent Rugogwe, Micheal Rugema, Eulade Bwitare, Joseph Karemera, Rumongi, Zeno Mutimura, Karenzi Theoneste and Connie Akayezu.


Unlike in Uganda where the “winner takes it all politics reigns,” in Rwanda there is mandatory power-sharing as a mechanism to enable even smaller parties to gradually grow.

The national constitution demands that the leading party (even if it scoops 99% in elections) can’t have more than 50% ministers in cabinet. The other parties (10 of them including Victoria Ingabire’s Union Democratic Forces or FDU) produce the remaining ministers. The constitution further provides that the Speaker of Parliament must come from the small parties, not the one which wins elections.

Kagame mobbed by international students who came for RPF anniversary
Kagame mobbed by international students who came for the RPF anniversary

The current Speaker is female (independent) and the two male deputies are from smaller parties. Kagame says whereas this constrains smaller parties from overtly criticizing a government they are part of, it’s also critical for smaller party leaders to have capacity building. In practice some of them become overwhelmed (or do we say over excited?) and become part of RPF.

The good example is internal affairs minister Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana (leader of PDI/Idealist Democratic Party) who has been crusading for constitutional reforms to lift term limits so that Kagame, whose second and last term expires in 2017, rules for life. Gratefully, he has since been rebuked and denounced by senior RPF leaders like party chairman Kagame and vice chairman Christopher Bazivamo.

The two leaders say RPF made the constitution and won’t accept temptations to dilute it as if the ruling party can’t find someone else equally visionary like Kagame. RPF Convention will meet in late 2015 or early 2016 to choose Kagame successor.

Pan Africanist party

Like many long ruling parties in Africa, RPF espouses Pan-Africanist ideals as seen in the long list of comrades from other liberation movements in Africa in Amahoro stadium whenever the RPF anniversary is to be celebrated.

This year’s attracted Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, CCM’s Mama Maria Nyerere, new Ethiopian Premier and delegations from ruling parties in Mozambique, Lesotho, Burundi and Eritrea. Louise Mushikiwabo, who despite maintaining not being RPF member is favored to succeed President Kagame, says it’s the desire to pursue Pan-Africanist obligations that Rwanda willingly deployed its soldiers, under the auspices and AU and UN, to pacify Darfur and even DR Congo where their role has since been misunderstood resulting into an indicting report by the so-called Panel of UN Experts.

Kagame dreams of a day when RPF will be Africa’s most admired exemplary party in the league of South Africa’s ANC.  It’s perhaps because of this Pan-Africanist orientation that RPF perceives things as if majority of its enemies are none Africans. Judging from Louise Mushikiwabo’s recent media interviews, its clear most of RPF’s angry rhetoric has been directed at the UN and generally western powers. RPF officially wonders why Steve Hege, who Louise Mushikiwabo claims to be in bed with FDLR/Interhamwe based in DR Congo with intent to destabilize Rwanda, was appointed to head the UN Panel of Experts who authored the recent report faulting Rwanda for funding M23 rebels fighting Kabila’s government in Kinshasa.


RPF has leagues for these two groups but its leaders despise demands that the old guard should suddenly hand over power to the youth, just like that. Far from it-Kagame prefers that any potential leaders from these two groups spontaneously emerge through being generally guided and mentored by current leadership. He is an example having emerged from the circumstances of his day rather than his destiny being decided in a conference sitting just to get a youth to lead the party.

Kagame, his Jeannette Kagame with P-Square during RPF Anniversary Concert
Kagame, his wife Jeannette Kagame and Nigerian singers P-Square during the RPF Anniversary Concert

Kagame after 2017

After quitting the presidency in 2017, Kagame will most likely remain RPF Chairman like Muwalimu Julius Nyerere did in Tanzania for some time. This will give him leverage to guide and monitor his successor at very close range. It’s also true the RPF strong man will remain thickly involved in running the military for purposes of continued security given the fact that security in the great lakes region in which Rwanda is located remains fragile.

Report By Hope Muhairwe


14 thoughts on “TOP 10 RPF SECRETS REVEALED

  1. Muzeyi would have left power if we had visionary leaders to succeed him. Unfortunately most of them are stooges of the west they enjoy seminars and conferences drinking free tea, eggs , and chips at munyonyo and after they start sniffing dope . How can muzeyi give power to dope takers . Muzeyi is stranded thank God at least the brigadier will soon take over after professionalising sorry personalising PGB. Then we shall have a hereditary presidential system. Fellow ugandans unlike Rwanda & Kenya there is only one family with vision . Imagine the oil in hands of unvisionary , dope taker ugandans like nsereko,Theodore, and speaker who goes to guvnor, Baryomunsi who steals body parts , Besigye, Muntu, Nandala leader of the opposition day time and NRM by nite . Wama muzeyi you are right not to relinquish your North Korea to people who didn’t go to the bush sorry to those who aren’t members of the house of Kags.. So muzeyi Obewo. Long live House of Kags our dear Leaders. .

    1. You might have written it as a joke, but fortunately it is true as you describe the opposition and the so-called NRM rebels who think the law starts and ends with them.You unwittingly described yourself another useless dope taker and die with your rotten heart.

    2. No wonder why Museveni don’t respect our MP’s both from his party and opposition. A batch of opportunists.

  2. Ugandans should restate terms limits in the costitusion. there should be separation of power btn legeslature excutive en judically. the president shld stop interfering in the work of perliament Sorry,

  3. There is no difference between Kagame and Museveni lies and way of twisting the truth is their ways of life and governing the people.

  4. Kagame was a very brilliant student of his mentor, Museveni, tough every thing in Rwanda seem to be miraculously glorious, we need to remember the first ten golden honey moon years of Museveni, Today is he the same revolutionary, what went wrong?, you shall not be surprised that Kagame in 2016 will be asked by RPF to stay for one more term to steer on Rwanda!! i have no more trust in the so called freedom fighters of Africa. Kagame is not a separate breed of the typical African race!!

  5. It is all very exciting, but I will only believe it in 2017, when President Kagame stands out as a patriotic Rwandan to peacefully hand over the reigns of power to another Visionary Rwandan. That will put him in a league of his own.

  6. Yokoyo, you are the one on dope because you don’t know what you are talking about.
    You seem totally disengaged from from the political, social and economic realities afflicting Uganda. For you to believe that amogst 34 million Ugandans today that no one else has vision other than muzeyi is absurd and an insult to your own judgement.
    Wake up man……….

  7. RPF is based on strong system and strong leaders. President Kagame respects his decisions. RPF ideology has been effective to revive Rwanda from nothing to something. Now Rwandan Army sends troops and choppers to bring peace in other countries ravaged by war. This is a good result of RPF leadership under Chairmanship of Kagame . He has built a good foundation and he doesn’t need to stay on power. Now RPF is in hands of Rwandan youth people.

  8. Hope deserves a hand clap becoz she really studied the party. Kagame and RPF works for the entire citizen not just a few party cadres. All Rwandans from different walks of life whether they support or not they are treated with respect as citizens.

    Unity and reconciliation, Moving over a million people from poverty in five yrs, 96% have health insurance, One cow per poor family, one laptop per child universal primary education The list is endless what else do we want?

  9. By the way just like Rwanda governance is inclusive so it is the RPF Party. Thats what makes the party more stronger, women, youth all have a big role in the decision making. Shared resources and love for the nation and Africa is what will keep RPF on track.

    there is zero tolerance on corruption, access to education even the poor, Its miracles infact.
    The system it self is so strong to be shaken, it will lead and develop the entire nation.

  10. its high time people realise that the freedom they are enjoying now, is because somebody inspired others ,listened to him ,and the country was liberated.this only is being visionary and patriotic. others sought running away to europe and other places wen the house was on who is visionary?

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