One of the Rwandan students studying in Sudan who disappeared in 2016 is son of former Internal Security Minister Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana, it has emerged.
In wide ranging interview with a local publication, Harerimana, currently deputy speaker of Chamber of Deputies in charge of finance and administration, confirmed that his son has never been heard from ever since.
However, Harerimana said he “cannot affirm 100%” that the son joined terrorist groups.
For nearly a decade up to October 5, 2016, Sheikh Harerimana was Minister for Internal Security. In the cabinet reshuffle of that day, Harerimana, commonly known as Fazil, was dropped and the ministry scrapped altogether.
It is unclear at this point if the Fazil was dismissed before or after his son had gone missing. What is clear is that his latest revelations will leave many wondering how a security minister’s child can disappear without a trace.
In the coming days, discussion and speculation will be that it could have been part of the reasons he was thrown out of cabinet. And stayed in the political cold for two years before getting sent to parliament on ruling RPF party coalition ticket.
The information about Fazil’s child missing has been around for sometime, but confirmation has not been forthcoming, until his own latest admission. The media did not push to find details as it was considered a private family matter that would affect an already grieving family.
In addition, in March 2017, Fazil’s wife Uwimana Ziada died of cancer. She was buried at a funeral attended by the who is who of Rwanda.
Early this year, Mufti Sheikh Hitimana told a gathering of the Rwanda Muslim Council (RMC) that 4 students who were attending Islamic studies in Sudan disappeared without a trace. Their identities have not been revealed.
It was not the first time. Back in 2009, two among the group sent to Egypt were apprehended by security forces in terror cells. They were brought back to Rwanda, Sheikh Hitimana said.
In his interview, Sheikh Fazil, said he settled on three deductions about his son’s case. First, he could have been kidnapped because he was son of security minister.
Secondly, Fazil suspects his son could have been lured to join Shiite forces in Yemen in that his recruiters could have convinced him to join so that they fight to take over Holly sites in Saudi Arabia. However, Fazil says the fact that its now over 3 years and the son has never called or heard news about him, he may have died during training.
Thirdly, Fazil suspects his son may have simply decided to go find greener pastures. But even with this scenario, Fazil says since one needs laissez-passez document to move from one province to another in Sudan, it is likely somebody who is an official may have aided him to travel and obtaining new documents to cross borders.
“For my part, what I have been left with is to believe he could have sought documents from an official but then did not reach where he intended to travel,” said Fazil in the interview with IGIHE, a Kinyarwanda news site.
Asked whether any efforts were undertaken to look for his son, Fazil said: “Of course the country rose up and did what it was able to, since he was its citizen, but the efforts were unsuccessfully up to today.”
Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana has positioned himself as a political kingmaker for the Muslim community in Rwanda. Through his Ideal Democratic Party (PDI), whose “I” was changed from “Islamic” many years ago, Fazil has emerged as one of the loudest champions of President Paul Kagame.
Immediately following the 2010 Presidential polls, Fazil single-handedly initiated a meticulous project that resulted into the 2015 amendment of the 2003 constitution that removed Article 101 allowing Kagame to stand in 2017 presidential polls. He also has opportunity to seek 2 more five-year terms after 2024.
At one point during the process to amend Article 101, Fazil branded Kagame as “Baba wa Taifa” – Swahili reference to “Father of the Nation”.
In another submission, during the bitter geopolitical fight with France over controversial inductments for the alleged Kagame responsibility in the assassination of former President Juvenal Habyarimana, Fazil said before anyone would ever attempt to arrest and prosecute Kagame, they would have to first take out Fazil and all Rwandans before reaching Kagame.
Fazil has not shied away stating publicly that had it not been for Kagame and the RPF, the Muslim community in Rwanda would still be as backward as they were under previous governments. He also pointed out that Muslims were only mechanics and farmers, but all that changed after 1994.
Meanwhile, the Internal Security Ministry was brought back by President Kagame in the latest reshuffle late last year. It was handed to former army chief Gen Patrick Nyamvumba.