… forgiveness is at the core of leadership principles in Rwanda.
Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa who was Rwanda’s High Commissioner to India and former Army Chief of Staff escaped the country’s justice on February 26, 2010, after attending the Government retreat in Rubavu District.
Many people continue to speculate about this self-imposed exile of a Rwandan General, some saying that he is “a victim of his own‘making”, others “of his success”, and so on.
People should simply go by what he stated himself on BBC last week, and which was confirmed by the RPF Secretary General later on Rwanda Television, instead of beating about the bush trying to justify the cowardly action of the general.
According to his own words, Kayumba fled his country because “he was summoned by the RPF Party to answer charges” and later “to apologize for his mistakes in front of some party members ”, which he refused and chose to cross the border incognito to “escape Rwanda’s justice system” in which he “does not expect a fair judgment”.
A close look at his utterances leaves a lot to be desired particularly because they don’t point to any sound reason as to why he went into self exile.
I don’t see anything wrong with any government official being summoned by any of his State institutions – leave alone the ruling party, to answer accusations against him, if indeed he thinks that they are baseless.
After all we know of many other generals who were acquitted by Rwanda’s justice system or even forgiven after finding their charges baseless. On the other hand, there are also other Government officials, like Ministers and Members of Parliament who were recently summoned by Rwanda’s justice and convicted.
And this has in fact helped a lot to discourage mismanagement of public funds and general misconduct by some government officials.
Kayumba surely knows all this. His decision to flee his motherland instead of facing justice simply means that he feared the outcome of the judicial process that was, in my opinion, still in its initial stage.
The RPF Secretary General admitted that Kayumba was indeed requested to make a statement on his allegations adding that the party can summon a Government official to answer any accusations.
Even though the RPF party is not a judicial institution, a party has indeed the right to question wrongdoers in the Government it spearheads, particularly its own party members– as their mistakes would ultimately impact negatively on the over-all success of the government in power.
The truth of the matter is that Kayumba did not want to plead guilty for he feared that he would not be forgiven because of the gravity of his crime.
He knew everything about the grenade attacks on innocent residents of Kigali and other impending attacks. Otherwise, I don’t see why a General, and a former Army Chief, would sneak out of his country like a wanted criminal to lead a dog’s life in exile – if he is not feeling guilty.
The fact that Kayumba Nyamwasa fled to South Africa to join his accomplice, Patrick Karegeya, soon after he had been questioned about his role in the grenade attacks, makes the case against him even more solid as one political analyst observed (New Times of 3 March 2010).
I also don’t see why he refused to apologize as he was given a chance to do so since even the genocidaires who accept to apologize and repent in front of Gacaca, have their sentences heavily reduced.
It is even too Christian on the part of the leadership to initiate such a measure of clemency for the genocidaires and for renegades such as Kayumba.
The consolation however, is that forgiveness is at the core of leadership principles in Rwanda. Rwandans have realized how forgiveness instead of revenge pays in the long run. Otherwise, Rwandans would not be responding positively to the reconciliation process.
‘An eye for an eye would have ended up blinding the whole humanity’ as Mahatma Ghandi once put it. Jesus himself forgave his executioners on the cross after crucifying him and stabbing his ribs.
Nelson Mandela did not take revenge against Apartheid rulers who had jailed him for decades. So, why did Kayumba fear RPF’s offer of forgiveness? Doesn’t he know the principles and practices of his party? Or is it because he “did not agree with its leaders’ decisions on some issues” as he himself pointed out? Kayumba should have learnt by now the importance of allegiance and loyalty to institutions including one’s party.
For those who might know him better like Jill Rutaremara, the RDF spokesman, Kayumba simply ‘failed to make the best out of the opportunity given to him by the leadership and by his fellow officers’ (The New Times of 8 March 2010) and he is therefore ‘victim of his own making’, not of his ‘success’ as Pius Muteekani Katunzi would want to make us believe (The Observer of 8 March 2010).
I don’t see any success in the fugitive and dissident General. He should learn from the examples of other renegade generals like Laurent Nkunda, Emmanuel Habyarimana, Thomas Rubanga, and Fode Sanko, to mention a few examples.
Rwanda’s justice system that Kayumba claims cannot provide ‘fair judgment’ has tried a good number of high ranking government officials holding posts even higher than the ones Kayumba has held.
The same courts have also tried genocide suspects as I earlier mentioned. It has acquitted a good number of them after finding their accusations baseless and unfounded.
Kayumba knows that Rwanda’s justice system does not rely on ‘hearsays’ but bases its ruling on first hand information backed by evidences or testimonies as in Gacaca courts. He knows that even for those proven guilty of severe offence like high treason there is no more death penalty.
He knows that even if he were sentenced to life imprisonment Rwanda’s prisons now meet international penitential standards to the extent that other African states prefer to send their convicts to Rwanda to serve their life sentence.
So, why all this cowardice?
Jill also mentions that ‘Kayumba cherishes nepotism, greed, divisionism, intrigues and self-glorification’ but had ‘mastered the art of pretence and concealing his true character’.
I don’t know much about Nyamwasa like Jill who has probably served under the same army with Kayumba, but I know a bit about his art of pretence. I heard him once saying in front of the students at the National University in Huye that there is no use of studying for a military man! And yet, he showed some signs of a scholar.
I was shocked to hear such nonsense utterances from an Army Chief. In the end I realized he was simply pretending. As to why he was doing so, I don’t know.
Muteekani who reasons like Kayumba asserts that Nyamwasa ‘once belonged to the inner circle of President Paul Kagame’s ruling clan’. He is probably used to ruling clans, but there is no ruling clan in Rwanda.
The allegation by Kayumba that President Paul Kagame is an ‘absolute dictator who has been corrupted by absolute power’ is baseless and false. It can only come from a fugitive.
President Paul Kagame would not be frequently receiving international awards for good governance and pragmatic vision for his country if he was a dictator.
Neither would he be as popular as he is in Rwanda. Kayumba is simply acting like a runaway nun who always speaks ill of her convent.