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Rwanda’s hopes of participating in Big Brother shattered | NTV

• It’s not yet clear what informed the decision to exclude Rwanda and Sierra Leone from this year’s show, but organisers claimed there wasn’t sufficient time to process the necessary travel documents for contestants from the two countries. • The organisers of the series cited ‘external factors’ in an email communicating the decision seen by Rwanda Today, indicating the last minute disqualification could be the result of the continued diplomatic standoff between the two countries.

Big Brother Contestants Rwanda

Big Brother Contestants Rwanda

By Edmund Kagire and Gilbert Mwijuke | Rwanda Today

Rwandans’ dreams of being part of this year’s edition of Big Brother Africa, which starts this Sunday, September 7, were dashed after the producers of the hit reality TV show announced that Rwanda and Sierra Leone have been locked out.

"M-Net’s AfricaMagic and series producers Endemol SA would like to confirm that Sierra Leone and Rwanda will no longer form part of the countries participating in this year’s edition of Big Brother Africa," organisers of the show said Monday in a press release.

Rwanda was to replace Angola in the annual reality show, which usually brings together contestants from 14 African countries to vie for the $300,000 grand prize. But with two countries locked out of this year’s edition dubbed ‘Hot Shots’, the show will feature 12 countries, including Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It’s not yet clear what informed the decision to exclude the two countries from this year’s show, but organisers claimed there wasn’t sufficient time to process the necessary travel documents for contestants from the two countries.

"Unfortunately, due to schedules and logistical constraints, there was insufficient time to follow the necessary procedures to process the required travel documentation which has recently become a more complex procedure," the press release said.

DStv Rwanda and the Ministry of Culture and Sports said they were still negotiating with the organisers of Big Brother Africa Season 9, and that they were still hopeful that Rwandan contestants would be part of the show.

The Minister of Sports and Culture, Mr Joseph Habineza, said that there has been no formal communication but it is understood that visa issues were behind the disqualification.

“We think this was brought about by the fact that contestants were not able to get visas. The Ministry was ready to give them service passports for the time they would spend in the house but it appears the organisers wanted them to get normal visa,” Mr Habineza said.

He pointed out that the government would try to seek talks with the organisers on the issue and see how it can facilitate the contestants but if not, the would-be contestants would miss their chances.

A source at Tele 10, the agents of DStv in Rwanda said that there were still efforts to see if Rwanda can salvage its opportunity but chances remain minimal. "We still have hope because we are still negotiating with the organisers of the show," an official from DStv Rwanda told Rwanda Today on condition of anonymity.

However, M-Net and Endemol have ruled out any chances of a Rwandan housemate this season.

"While it is not possible to include Housemates from both countries in this season, M-Net and Endemol SA are confident that they are able to improve the process in order to successfully incorporate housemates from both countries if there are future editions of the series," the press release said.

Diplomatic row

While the organisers of the series cited ‘external factors’ in an email communicating the decision seen by Rwanda Today, Rwanda’s last minute disqualification could be a result of the continued diplomatic standoff between the two countries.

In March this year, South Africa expelled Rwandan diplomats accusing them of engaging in acts that violated the sovereignty of the country. Rwanda retaliated by sending six diplomats at the South African High Commission in Kigali back to their home country. The two countries remained with ambassadors and dormant diplomatic missions.

There have been reports that both countries have been working on settling the difference but with little progress. The diplomatic standoff roots from the existence of Rwandan exiles on South African soil.

Kigali maintains that South Africa should not be providing refugee to the likes of Kayumba Nyamwasa who it says have cases to answer back home but SA maintains that it is a universal right for anyone to seek refugee anywhere.

The diplomatic row has been escalated by recent attempts on Kayumba Nyamwasa’s life by unknown thugs who are accused of being linked to Rwanda. Kigali strongly denies links to the attacks in SA.

Rwanda’s disqualification came at the heels of a court ruling in which four of six people accused of attempting to assassinate Kayumba Nyamwasa were found guilty. The judge also highlighted that the 2010 attack was ‘politically motivate’.