KT Press, The New Times, Yolande Makolo, And Mauro De Lorenzo – Stop Falsehoods About “Buying” The US Congress. If You Want To Genuinely Examine Who Among Rwandans Has Spent A Fortune On Lobbyists, Look No Further Than Kagame.
President Paul Kagame owes Chairman Chris Smith and the United States Congress an apology. The President’s senior officials and his media have slundered the US Congress and Congressman Smith – that he was “bought” to hold hearings on Rwanda. These are crude and false utterances aimed at drawing attention away from the real issues – atrocities in Kagame’s Rwanda.
Let me begin this story with Mauro De Lorenzo. In 2012, I asked Mauro if he knew a good lobbying/legal firm. The reason I was looking for such firm was that my friend Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa had a challenge that we wanted to sort out.
Back in 2002, the United Nations had included Ayabatwa, along with the the Rwanda government, on the list of plunderers of DR Congo’s natural resources. We wanted to hire a firm that would argue our case that Ayabatwa had nothing to with the exploitation of Congo’s wealth. On the contrary, Ayabatwa was and remains the only manufacturer/employer still operating a sizeable business in Eastern Congo.
Mauro recommended his friend, Steve Rademaker, who was with the Podesta Group. And that is how Ayabatwa and I started working with Podesta Group. The details of this relationship are available if anyone is interested. I will even happily arrange an interview between Rademaker with whoever wants to engage the truth.
We continued to work with Podesta on other assignments. The largest and most costly assignment to Podesta involved making documentaries. The Podesta team included senior writers and film crew that traveled across Africa where Ayabatwa’s businesses operated. They even visited Rwanda and Burundi. The Podesta team made promotional films about Ayabatwa’s businesses and philanthropy – materials that were used to launch his corporate and personal websites.
Now let us look at how KT Press, the New Times, Mauro, and Makolo from Kagame office maliciously cooked a story to “prove” that Himbara and Ayabatwa “bought” the US Congress to “tarnish” Kagame.
Yolande Makolo wrote: “Did you know that hearings at the US Congress are for sale? $220,000 a pop.”
KT Press then screamed:
“the hearing was the result of cash payments totalling $440,000 to the Podesta Group, a PR and lobbying firm. The firm arranged access for Himbara and team to Congressman Chris Smith.”
Mauro’s contribution was that the “This story gets more and more sordid.”
Then came the New Times with a title, “How much is the US Congress worth:”
“For 440,000 American Dollars, Himbara has bought a Member of the American House of Representatives, before whom he and his acolyte Higiro have appeared twice now.”
Shame on you Mauro! Shame on you Makolo. Shame on you KT Press. Shame on you the New Times.
And let me advise you – those who live in a glass house should not throw stones. The real culprit who has spent a fortune of taxpayers’ money on lobbyists in the United States is no other than Kagame.
Kagame began spending big bucks on lobbyists as far back as in 2003. That is when he hired Jefferson Waterman International at a fee of US$300,000.00 “for each twelve month term.” If they worked for two years, they made US$600,000.00.
Then came Racepoint in 2009, which cost Kagame US$50,000.00 monthly professional services fee and US$2,500-$3,500/month out of pocket costs to cover other costs such as travel.
We know that Racepoint was still in Rwanda in 2011. It embarked on the assignment in August 2009. Which would mean that Racepoint may have accumulated 26 months x US$53,500.00 which makes it a cool US$1,378,000.00.
So what was Racepoint performing to earn such large sums of money? Among its responsibilities was to build Kagame as a “visionary leader” and a “democrat:”
“We will launch a story highlighting President Kagame and his visionary leadership, including his adoption of democratic principle and free markets as a means of elevating Rwanda.”
After Racepoint came Winning Strategies Washington in 2014, for US$180,000.00 a year. Winning Strategies was “to engage DC officials on ‘issues related to US-Africa policy/trade matters’ and to further its political relationship with this country.”
Dear KT Press, The New Times, Mauro, and Makolo. Stop spreading your cheap lies. Congressional leaders in the United States hold hearings all the time in line with the work of their committees.
We approached Congressman Chris Smith on human rights issues in Rwanda because, firstly, because he is the Chairperson responsible for human rights sub-committee which is also responsible for Africa in the House. Secondly, Chairman Smith is a passionate human rights activist in his own right. Smith’s latest accomplishment is his introduction of legislation to hold the Azerbaijani regime accountable for human rights abuses.
I have news for you the propagandists. You cannot buy a person like Chairman Smith. And Mauro, as an American, ought to know this.
Update: The New Times has since deleted its story “How much is the US Congress worth” from its Website. But the article is found here.