JOHANNESBURG, July 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Rwanda government seized Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa’s shares in Nshili Kivu Tea Factory (NKTF) on 25 June 2014. The Commission of Abandoned Properties in Nyaruguru District instructed NKTF to deposit any monies or any other benefits due to Ayabatwa in the District’s own bank account for "safekeeping." By this action, government replaced Ayabatwa as shareholder in NKTF.
In a separate development, the Rwandan authorities seized Ayabatwa’s personal residence in Gikondo, Kigali. In this case, the Rwandan police forced their way into the property, ejected security and staff, and installed their own personnel. This private residence has since been converted into a bar and lodge.
Government claims that Ayabatwa’s assets were taken over because they were abandoned since he does not reside in Rwanda. As Ayabatwa explains, however, this assertion is contrary to Rwandan and universal laws that protect shareholders regardless of whether they are domiciled inside or outside their native countries. "Rwanda seems to be saying that no investor residing outside the country may own shares in Rwandan-based companies – or to be more precisely, a native Rwandan not currently living in his/her homeland may not own assets of any kind in his/her country."
David Himbara, Senior Advisor to Ayabatwa, agrees that Rwanda’s U-Turn from protecting investors to seizing their assets is troubling and globally recognised as a bad sign. Himbara cites the US State Department’s "Rwanda 2013 Human Rights Report" which lists, among other governmental abuses of power, the illegal takeover of the Union Trade Centre (UTC), Ayabatwa’s US$20 million shopping mall.
In light of seizure of Ayabatwa’s shares in NKTF, confiscation of his private residence and turning it into a bar/lodge, and illegal takeover of UTC, Rwandan supporters, including the United States which is Rwanda’s largest donor, have good reason to worry. Rwanda’s earlier progressive reforms for improving doing business environment, are being be replaced by unpredictable behaviour that renders Rwanda high risk for doing business. This reality puts into question Rwanda’s willingness to wean off aid by building a viable private sector that generates inclusive economic growth and development.
Ayabatwa is a native Rwandan and successful Pan African businessman with interests throughout Africa in cement, real estate, food processing, banking and tobacco. For more information about Ayabatwa, his businesses and philanthropy, go to: http://tribertrujugiro.com/.
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Media Contact: David Himbara, firstname.lastname@example.org