Taarifa Rwanda

Open Letter To FERWACY President Aimable Bayingana

I have listened to your complaints against us and have seen how you treat those fighting for transparency, a purge of corruption, the end of abuse of power, and an end of your misogynistic rule within Rwanda Cycling Federation (FERWACY).

I have weighed your empty arguments, your boasts, your vitriol, and your desperate need to blame others for your failures.

I have read your “Procedures Manual” and “Strategic Plan” adopted in June, 2019. You have made it easy to address you personally for all the issues within Ferwacy and within cycling in Rwanda.

You have stated many times to those around you that “I (Aimable) am Ferwacy.” “I am the reason for cycling in Rwanda.” So Aimable Bayingana, you have claimed to be responsible for all of Rwandan cycling it is time for you to take full responsibility.

You choose your “entourage” of yes people and expel those who question your decisions or actions. You ousted one of Rwanda’s fiercest advocates for cycling Festus Bizimana because he questioned your behavior and choices.

You continue with your threats to him for standing up for what is right. You tarnish his integrity and question his motives. Festus is a person whose example of competence and knowledge gained him a stellar position at the US Embassy supported by the US Ambassador.

I have seen how you systematically take claim for any victory or success in cycling in Rwanda, especially those that happened in spite of you, not because of you. I see how you claim responsibility and ownership of the Tour of Rwanda as if you did it alone.

Have you forgotten that it was Minister Habineza who set the Tour of Rwanda in motion underwriting its international inception? And GSO who understood the vision and made it happen and who continues to make it happen professionally? Without either of those two, the Tour of Rwanda would not have existed.

And it is thanks to the people of Rwanda who line the roads to witness this magnificent event and made it so famous. You perpetuate a class system where you are at the top, and everyone else is at the bottom, the riders occupy the lowest position.

You rule by fear and threats. Riders and staff state you threaten them with jail time if they even speak to us. They talk to us because they see the damage being done to the sport. Through your cowardice, from your anonymous Facebook account, you post threats.

You post degrading remarks and menaces on the rider’s Facebook pages. You posted on Bonaventure’s page threatening him and telling him that he owes Ferwacy/you everything. Should I remind you, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana put Rwanda on the map by being the first Rwandan to win a stage at a UCI 2.1 race? He is your current National Champion and double Rwandan National Champion whom you treat with disrespect and disdain. He has represented Rwanda in an exemplary fashion for over six years.

He has made you famous and made Rwanda proud. Right now, out of fear and by choice, he lives in the USA far away from your menacing reach. Is that how you treat an Ambassador to your country? Where is your Patriotism Aimable?

I see how you treat Rwanda’s most prominent and famous cycling Ambassador, two time Olympian Adrien Niyonshuti. Just a few days ago, you called him to berate and criticize him for sharing his knowledge and passion for cycling to a group of youth in Sierra Leone. You threaten him if he continues.

  • You blocked a donation of bikes from RNOC to his Cycling Academy in Rwamagana, this same academy that has produced riders to the likes of Valens Ndayasenga, Joseph Areruya, and Jean Claude Uwizeye.
  • You have purposely blocked his ability to gain a UCI coaching license for over three years now.
  • You have denied his entrance to the MTB World Championships to represent Rwanda.
  • You have denied his ability to be selected for the Tokyo Olympics, representing Rwanda.
  • You have tried to block Adrien’s contribution to the youth, not only of Rwanda but to your brothers and sisters in Africa, at every junction. Have you forgotten that Niyonshuti remains the first and only black African to have finished the MTB race at the Olympics? He is the reason you are at Ferwacy.

He is the reason there is a new culture of cycling in Africa. He is the reason I decided to stay in Rwanda in 2007 and remain for a decade. Niyonshuti can accomplish far more than we could ever achieve.

He will affect many more youths that we could ever, and yet you treat him like an outcast, dirt under your feet, your shame precedes you Bayingana. Your smear and intimidation campaign against cycling’s biggest asset is not only unpatriotic, unethical, and evil, but it is to the detriment of the progress of cycling in Rwanda and the rest of Africa. Forget not that Niyonshuti is a survivor.

He lost 6 of his brothers and 60 of his family members in the Genocide against the Tutsi. He lost his father and best friend when I was with him in the early years. Do you think for a moment you can break that young man’s spirit with your evil threats and menaces?

The lack of spare parts for National Team bikes and disrepair of the Presidential Bikes is 100% your fault Bayingana. You have systematically ruptured every relationship we have had with our loyal sponsors and suppliers. You prefer to have ARCC pay +40% or even up to 5x the price for parts and bikes from a foreign source rather than use the loyal suppliers we have had over the years.

Are you bad at math, or would you rather waste precious government money? In the ten years we were in Rwanda and over $3million of money spent, you never once wrote one letter of thanks to any of our (your) sponsors. It is lamentable and shocking how you treat those who have funded the growth of cycling in Rwanda.

You spit in the face of Thomas Pupp, an Austrian Parliamentarian and Continental team owner who gave the National Team cars, a service course, and assistance at the World Championships in Austria.

Never a thank you, never a returned email, never a follow-up?  Instead, you post photos of you and your SG Toussaint at a fancy restaurant in Innsbruck celebrating while your team struggled.

Have you forgotten that Mr. Pupp was the one that hosted your double TOR winner Ndayisenga in Europe for a season on his Continental team? Have you forgotten Thomas struck a deal with KTM bicycles for professional bikes at a minimal price?

That he arranged assistance to the National team when needed and offered to assist in setting up a KTM distribution center in Kigali? You cannot deny knowing about it because you Bayingana “are Ferwacy.” You ignored all of this. Your business acumen is deplorable and evidenced by all the sponsors you have lost and all the opportunities for Rwanda thrown away.

You target a group of people that are already marginalized by their gender and their socio-economic status. You have systematically taken away the hope that cycling gave them. You oppress those that cannot defend themselves and puff yourself up, showing how strong and powerful you are.

Where were you when the young female cyclists from Nyamata were victims of sexual abuse? They were victims of promises of a bright future, bikes, and trips abroad if they would comply with the sexual needs of their coach Straton Mbazumutima? Your response to me when Nellie Ingabire came forward was that “it is a club affair and you do not get involved with club issues.”

Would you have reacted the same way if one of those girls were one of your beautiful, bright daughters? Why do you make a difference between village girls to the “privileged” ones? Who gives a voice to the disenfranchised? Those women left without a voice?

Those whose lives were given a glimpse of hope, a ray of sunlight? Only to be left in darkness and desperation, used by the privileged, then spit out to continue their lives in shame and darkness. It was Kimberly Coats, every time that fought for the safety of these girls. If it were not for her, these girls would continue to be sexually abused and discarded. You denounced her in meddling in “your affairs.”

I call it fighting for those without a voice or chance of escape. How can you stand by and knowingly accept this coach who admitted to his crimes and allow him reinstatement into another club?

Then when we pushed for his expulsion, you put him in charge of the ladies and youth in your club, Team Muhazi? He was removed not by you, Mr. President of Ferwacy, but the authorities who rightfully deemed him a threat to the youth of your own club run by your brother.

You go up against all that Rwanda stands for, anti-corruption, women’s rights, and gender equality. You spit in the face of your own Executive Committee by doing as you please. Where were you when 18 year old, Jean Eric Habimana was left stranded at the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam returning from the World Championships in the UK?

He had not one cent to his name, a service passport, and incorrect visas to return him to Rwanda or the UCI training camp in Switzerland? Why did it take a Rwandan diaspora to get you to react to get him a replacement ticket? Still without food abandoned by you left to fend for himself.

If it had not been for Kimberly he would have been without food and water for over 36 hours she made one call, one email and got food and sanctuary for him at the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul.

How do you leave an 18-year-old young man, a National Team member, alone in various airports with no means of sustenance? You had the opportunity and access to the same person from Turkish Airlines when he was in charge in Rwanda.

You never once made any attempt to thank or contact him for the sponsorship he gave the National Team. These riders are the future of Rwandan cycling and you are ripping away their hope and dreams.

You could care less about their well-being; you treat them like dispensable dogs at your table. How can you oblige all cycling in Rwanda pass through your conduit, a conduit filled with favors, lies, false promises, unattainable goals, and allegiance payoffs? You even threaten the media to support you and allegedly offer bribes for their support, as evidenced by the last Taarifa statement.

Your arrogance and self-importance are to the detriment of the sport. With every “gift” to a club, there is a pledge of allegiance to your corrupt ways. Stop blaming Team Africa Rising, Kimberly, and myself for your failures and the decline of cycling in Rwanda.

Stop hiding behind the most prestigious race in Africa the Tour of Rwanda and the candidature for the World Championships. Both can survive without you. You are not indispensable. It is not because of you that they both exist.

For over a decade we covered for you, we filled the gaps where needed, now that we are absent your lack, negligence, and incompetence is clear evidence. Your reign of terror will not fill the gaps and holes; it will not bring the sponsors back.

It will not motivate the riders to train harder; it will not bring more youth into cycling. It, in the end, will erode at the foundation that took over a decade to build and eventually collapse. As cycling declines, you boast to your friends and entourage about the magnificent hotel you are building on Lake Muhazi.

You post photos of you in your recently acquired speedboat sent over in a container paid for by Ferwacy. Will your hotel soon be the host hotel for the Tour of Rwanda? Will it host training camps for the National Team? Will you charge for the accommodations, or will it be free? Will its usage by Ferwacy or TOR, be mandated, or will it be a decision by your executive committee?

Where are you at with your newly published “Strategic Plan” for Ferwacy? I will comment on just a few points to demonstrate that this “Strategic Plan” appeared without any advice from an expert in the specific fields.

The “plan” development happened without those who would be implementing it; the head coach, Sterling Magnell and head mechanic, Sean Belfast. It is evident; you have no intention of carrying much if any of it out. Anything that will be achieved will be despite you not because of you.

Specific points related to the Strategic Plan: Page 8 objective #1,#5 “Establishment of 5 zones and 20 centers of talent detection….by January 2020.” The only legitimate training center outside of ARCC that I know of is Niyonshuti’s Cycling Academy in Rwamagana.

I remind you that you just blocked a donation of bikes from the RNOC to the ANCA and continue to try to prevent Adrien from operating in Rwanda and abroad. Who and how will the 18 other centers be managed by January 2020, Mr. Bayingana? How will you add 18 centers in two months?

Page 8 objective #2 “Selection and training of 40 trainers, two at each center by December 2019”. During my tenure in Rwanda, probably 40/50 “coaches” received their “Level 1 UCI coaching license”. Having a license does not mean you are a “coach.” Very few of these licensees are active in coaching in cycling.

Do I need to remind you one of them, Straton Mbazumutima was one of these coaches now expelled for sexual misconduct with his trainees, he was even expelled by me from ARCC for coming to work drunk?

Where is your “safe sport” training that almost all federations oblige every coach to go through to keep the riders, youth, and staff safe from misconduct and abuse? This program was strongly suggested in writing to you by Kimberly in 2017.

You ignored its importance therefore ignoring the importance of keeping the women and youth safe from abuse. How will you arrive at 40 by the end of the year or even 40 by the end of 2020?

Had you allowed Niyonshuti to take his coaching training class at the UCI 3 years ago as requested, you would have had 40 competent coaches in Rwanda. You would have met your goal and objective.

Page 8, objective #3, you state, “40 mechanics, two at each center by December 2019.” Why have you not shared these objectives with your National Team mechanic and primary mechanic trainer Sean Belfast? Since June, he has trained one group of 12 mechanics.

Two of which could go to the next level and only 50% would be able to be at one of your “centers” so six mechanics since June. NONE of these mechanics have the necessary tools. You have NO relationship anymore with the top tool manufacturers that have supported you over the last 13 years.

I do not see a plan to acquire these critical tools for your 40 mechanics. Mr. President of Ferwacy, what is your actual plan, do you expect your mechanics to work without tools, tools that are not even available in Rwanda?

You recently adopted a very extensive “Procedure Manual” in conjunction with your “Strategic Plan.” Within only a few days, you went against two definite clauses with the manual relating to the recruitment process. You “appointed” your current SG, Toussaint Nosisi, into the position of DG of Ferwacy who then held two positions at Ferwacy, SG and DG.

You clearly ignored Section III 1.1-1.6 Staff recruitment process on several points. Also, you gave him a big salary without a vote from your complete executive committee.

You use your “procedures and strategic plans” documents only to placate demands from outside but fail even to study or modify these documents that would reflect a realistic and attainable approach. You fail to ask advice from qualified experts, your head coach, head mechanic, and those that have the experience and the passion for bringing cycling in Rwanda to the next level.

In both of these plans, you emphasize your relationships with your sponsors. However, you have proven time and again your disregard for those sponsors that support you already. You continue to say to the press and others that we are undermining you and Ferwacy.

On the contrary, we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars since we left supporting your riders, your clubs, and assisting those that you have thrown to the curb. We have supported Team Benediction Cycling, Adrien Niyonshuti Cycling Academy, Bugesera Women’s Cycling Team, SKOL Cycling Team while in Europe, and Rafiki Uwimana’s new team. Your disdain for those who stand up to you, especially women, is frightening and dangerous.

Kimberly, a former Business Development Manager at the largest food distribution company in the US, brought her skills and business acumen to Rwanda and Ferwacy to build a sustainable program. She has worked tirelessly behind the scenes assisting and helping cycling in Rwanda for over a decade.

Now you have the audacity and arrogance to suggest she undermines all that she helped create? Your unscrupulous attacks serve only to protect your position and ego. You suggest we want Ferwacy to fail.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. We hoped to step away and continue with a new chapter for Team Africa Rising. We thought we left the program in honest, incorruptible hands committed to the cyclists. You proved us wrong.

Enough is enough, you have been intoxicated by power and your greed has become your idol. Our reputation is exemplary, our motives and actions are consistent with our mandates.

Our Board of Directors is without reproach. You have failed Ferwacy, its mandates, and original vision, and you have been unable to represent Rwanda in the light it deserves.

 

The author is Director Team Africa Rising

Editor Note: The views expressed in this letter are of the Author not of Taarifa or its Management

Rwanda Cycling Mauled By Sexual Abuse, Fraud, Impunity

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