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Open Letter To FERWACY President Aimable Bayingana

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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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Rwanda Police Chief Briefs 240 Officers Ahead Of S. Sudan Deployment

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The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dan Munyuza, on Tuesday, March 9, briefed 240 police officers set to be deployed for peacekeeping duties under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The pre-deployment briefing of the hybrid Formed Police Unit-One (FPU-1) contingent was held at the Rwanda National Police (RNP) General Headquarters in Kacyiru.

The contingent commanded by Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Faustin Kalimba, will replaced the same number in Malakal, Upper Nile State where they will be largely charged with protection of civilians in internally displaced camps, UN personnel, security of key installations and humanitarian assistance, among others.

IGP Munyuza urged the officers to use their experience and the high level of training acquired to execute their peacekeeping mandate effectively.

He further reminded them that they will work with other peacekeepers from different countries and they will have to exercise respect of diversity.

“Learning will be continuous throughout your tour-of-duty, use your experience to build on what your predecessors achieved, cooperative with other peacekeepers in the mission area and respect the people under your protection as well as their culture,” IGP Munyuza emphasized.

He urged them to keep up the good conduct and protect the image set by previous contingents adding that ” you are representing your country, be at the best of your performance.”

“Your country and Rwanda National Police in particular, have full trust in you, resilience and sacrifice are key. Remember, your conduct and professionalism will depict the image and values of Rwandans, ensure your performance is exceptionally good and maintain the same spirit to the end of your mission,” said IGP Munyuza.

The Police Chief reminded them that Rwandan peacekeepers are defined by their professionalism, discipline, teamwork, integrity, values and alertness, and urged them to keep the momentum to “maintain and protect the image and reputation.”

He emphasized that respecting each other and their superiors in particular, discipline, hard work, teamwork, dignity and respect for diversity are strong guiding values and principles which will help them towards mission excellence.

IGP Munyuza appealed to the officers to maintain the spirit of supporting others and to engage in human security activities with the local people they are mandated to serve.

‘’Participating in human security activities is our culture as Rwandans, you should not only conduct peacekeeping duties just to maintain peace and security. It goes beyond that as our tradition to work towards the overall wellbeing of the people,” IGP Munyuza said.

As the wolrd is still faced with the pandemic of COVID-19, the Police Chief reminded them to always observe all health guidelines including wearing face masks, avoiding shaking hands, washing hands and practicing social distancing, among others.

This will be the sixth rotation of FPU-1 hybrid since the first one was deployed in South Sudan in 2015.

It is also one of the three Rwandan FPU contingents currently deployed in South Sudan.

Currently, RNP maintains over 1000 police peacekeepers in various UN missions, including six contingents serving in UNMISS and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

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Chinese Companies Win Tender to Construct Railway From Mwanza to Isaka 

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The Standard Gauge Railway from Mwanza to Isaka in neighbouring Tanzania will be constructed by two Chinese Companies that have won a lucrative tender for this job.

Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi Tanzania’s foreign minister said on Thursday during a presser on the eve of the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s two-day visit to Tanzania.

The Mwanza-Isaka railway stretch will cover a distance of 341 kilometres and construction is estimated to cost TShs3 trillion will be handled by China Civil Engineering Construction (CCEC) and China Railway Construction Company (CRCC).

The Tanzanian government through the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) is constructing a 2,561Km SGR network that links Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Kigoma, Katavi and neighboring countries of Rwanda, Burundi Uganda and DRC.

The over Sh7 trillion project is being implemented in phases with the first round covering 202km between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, was initially scheduled to be ready by November 2020 but heavy rains disrupted construction works.

Construction of the first and the second phase is being undertaken by Turkish construction company, Yapi Markez.

The first phase will have six main stations at Dar es Salaam, Pugu, Soga, Ruvu, Ngerengere and Morogoro, with the Dar es Salaam and Morogoro stations being the largest.

The second phase which is under implementation involves 422km between Morogoro and Makutupora in Singida with the project set to be completed within 36 months at a cost of $1,924 billion.

The railway is East Africa’s fastest and will use electricity to move trains will travel at 160km per hour and transport 10,000 tonnes of freight which is equivalent to 500 cargo trucks.

Upon completion, the SGR project is expected to payback the investment value after 15 years.

In October 2020, Tanzania government signed $60 million (about Sh138 billion) contract with a South Korean firm to supply trains for the standard gauge railway (SGR).

 

The Citizen

 

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Trump Attacks Election Integrity As Biden Nears 270 Electoral College Votes

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President Donald Trump is testing how far he can go in using the trappings of presidential power to undermine confidence in this week’s election against Joe Biden, as the Democrat contender gained ground in tight contests in some key battleground states.

With his pathway to re-election appearing to shrink, Trump has advanced unsupported accusations of voter fraud to falsely argue that his rival was trying to seize power. Thursday’s moves amounted to an extraordinary effort by a sitting American president to sow doubt about the democratic process.

“This is a case when they are trying to steal an election, they are trying to rig an election,” Trump said from the podium of the White House briefing room.

The president’s remarks deepened a sense of anxiety in the U.S. as Americans enter their third full day after the election without knowing who would serve as president for the next four years.

His statements also prompted a rebuke from some Republicans, particularly those looking to steer the party in a different direction in a post-Trump era.

Electoral college magic number

Neither candidate has reached the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. But Biden eclipsed Trump in Wisconsin and Michigan, two crucial Midwestern battleground states, and has been inching closer to overtaking the president in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where votes are still being counted. It remains unclear when a national winner will be declared after a long, bitter campaign dominated by the coronavirus and its effects on Americans and the national economy.

On Wednesday, The U.S.set another record for daily confirmed cases as several states posted all-time highs. The pandemic has killed more than 233,000 people in the United States.

Rising tensions

Biden spent Thursday trying to ease tensions and project a more traditional image of presidential leadership. After participating in a coronavirus briefing, he declared that “each ballot must be counted.”

“I ask everyone to stay calm. The process is working,” Biden said. “It is the will of the voters. No one, not anyone else who chooses the president of the United States of America.”

 

Biden’s victories in the upper Midwest put him in a strong position, but Trump showed no sign of giving up. It could take several more days for the vote count to conclude and a clear winner to emerge. With millions of ballots yet to be tabulated, Biden already had received more than 73 million votes, the most in history.

Trump’s erroneous claims about the integrity of the election challenged Republicans now faced with the choice of whether to break with a president who, though his grip on his office grew tenuous, commanded sky-high approval ratings from rank-and-file members of the GOP.

Lawsuits and late mail-in ballots

Trump’s campaign engaged in a flurry of legal activity to try to improve the Republican president’s chances, requesting a recount in Wisconsin and filing lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. Judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly dismissed Trump campaign lawsuits there on Thursday.

Trump has held a small edge in Georgia, though Biden has been gaining on him as votes continue to be counted. The same is true in Pennsylvania, where Trump’s lead had slipped to about 22,000 votes — and the race is destined to get tighter.

One reason is because elections officials were not allowed to process mail-in ballots until Election Day under state law. It’s a form of voting that has skewed heavily in Biden’s favour after Trump spent months claiming without proof that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.

Mail ballots from across the state were overwhelmingly breaking in Biden’s direction. A final vote total may not be clear for days because the use of mail-in ballots, which take more time to process, has surged as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trump campaign said it was confident the president would ultimately pull out a victory in Arizona, where votes were also still being counted, including in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous area.

The AP has declared Biden the winner in Arizona and said Thursday that it was monitoring the vote count as it proceeded.

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