‘It’s Not Good For A Girl To Go Into Politics’ Especially In Rwanda

By Edmund Kagire and Ivan R. Mugisha

In the scorching afternoon sun, she makes endless phone calls. She appears restless as she fumbles with papers.


“I have many meetings. So let’s do the interview quickly, or unless it can wait?” asks Diane Shima Rwigara, the newest voice on Rwanda’s political scene.

The 35-year-old accountant and businesswoman recently announced her intention to stand for president against incumbent Paul Kagame in the forthcoming election. The announcement caught many off guard, and elicited a massive debate.

Unlike in neighbouring Uganda or Kenya, elections in Rwanda don’t trigger pandemonium and hype. Less than two months to the General Election, there is little on the ground to show that the country is headed for the polls.

However, the May 3 announcement by Diane caused more of a stir than the earlier announcement by Frank Habineza, the president of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, who also revealed his intention to contest.

“I am busy with the initial work to put together my bid,” she told The East African in one of the city’s suburbs where she was holding meetings with her support teams.

“There is a lot of work that goes into preparing a bid of such a nature, especially putting together the requirements,” she said.

Getting supporters

Among the requirements according to the Rwandan Constitution, each candidate must submit a list of at least 600 people supporting them, with signatures against their ID numbers.

This requirement is one of the most difficult for independent or opposition candidates to fulfill because most Rwandans will not want to associate themselves with the opposition.

Some candidates wishing to take part in the polls say many people fear signing for someone who is going to stand against the incumbent and the ruling party.

But Diane says she is not worried about where she will get the signatures because she believes they are fewer than the support she has.

“My supporters are determined to sign for me because it is their constitutional right,” she said. “Twenty people in each district is a small number,” she added.


She is seemingly not deterred by a recent incident where 24 hours after making her intentions known, an unknown person leaked nude pictures, allegedly of her. The pictures circulated widely and drew mixed reactions, with some condemning the act of attempting to shame her, while others questioned her integrity.

She doesn’t want to talk about the pictures. “I want to move on from that chapter; right now, I am focusing on my plans,” she said. Two weeks ago, she had been scheduled to make an announcement about the pictures but she changed her mind at the last minute.

Source: allafrica.com

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