On Thursday, May 18, 2023, Paul Adom-Otchere, the host of the magazine show-Good Evening Ghana on Metro TV, claimed the government of Rwanda is set to construct a national cathedral in Kigali with the taxpayers’ money.
Mr Adom-Otchere said the project was part of Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s legacy projects as he prepares to exit office. He derided critics of the suspended controversy-laden Ghana national cathedral project which is estimated to cost the public purse $400 million. Ghana’s project, over the years, has metamorphosed from a church-funded infrastructure to a state-funded one.
A video from the show and news stories from other blogs have been widely shared on social media, particularly by some sympathisers of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), who have used Mr. Adom-Otchere’s claim to justify the construction of the national cathedral in Ghana with the taxpayers’ money.
Claim: “Paul Kagame has called Sir David [Adjaye, the designer of Ghana’s national cathedral] that what is Ghana saying about you? ….and they are building a Cathedral in Rwanda and they are building it with taxpayers’ money because Kagame has taken the decision that as he is getting ready to exit, he needs to put the cathedral inside the ground of Rwanda.”
Explanation: Rwanda’s Catholic Church is constructing a new cathedral, which will be a short distance from St Michael, the current Kigali Cathedral.
Multiple Catholic news portals reported that the St Michael Catholic Cathedral is relatively small and struggles to contain the ever-growing catholic population at the city centre.
“The construction will be done by the church; it has received the land [from the government], Father Jean Pierre Nsabimana, rector of the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Rwanda told Crux, an independent news portal that reports on the Vatican and the Catholic Church. This report has been corroborated by the Catholic News Service, CatholicPhilly.com, and the United Kingdom’s Catholic Herald. These stories were published as far back as 2020, and the project was scheduled to be completed in 2021. Information on the current state of the project is, however, unavailable.
The land for the Cathedral, which was donated by the Rwandan government, was until 2018, a prison facility the colonial authorities built on a 5.5-acre land in 1930.
The City of Kigali’s Director of Kigali Urban Planning and Construction One Stop Centre, Fred Mugisha, told The New Times, a Rwandan news portal, in a story published on January 20, 2020, that although the plan was still in its initial stages, the Catholic Church had been given the go-ahead to develop a concept.
“There is a proposal to turn the land over to the Catholic Church which has shown an interest in developing a state-of-the-art cathedral. They are now working on a concept detailing the kind of structure they intend to put up and we will take it from there,” he said.
From the foregoing, the Rwandan government’s only reported involvement in the project is the donation of the 5.5-acre land. Therefore, claims that the government of Rwanda is building a national cathedral is false.
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