Last week Uganda’s state newspaper New Vision interviewed Kayumba Nyamwasa in a clear effort to give the impression to the readers that this is a man of integrity and courage, who was able to stand up to the leadership of President Kagame in pursuit of a principled cause. For those who know Kayumba and read that interview, the only conclusion from it is that the opposite of the man has never been so vividly captured. Never in Kayumba’s life of almost 60 years has he ever pursued a cause greater than a personal ambition for status and glory.
Kayumba and the officer that recruited him into the force were assigned the rank of “private.” Incredibly, Kayumba was appointed the Assistant District Administrator for Gulu, in northern Uganda, where he leveraged his position and resources to buy the rank of Second Lieutenant. “In 1986 if you had money you could go to NRA headquarters and pay the records master or a senior officer there to buy a rank,” said another colleague who had joined the forces prior to Kayumba but had remained on the rank of private until 1990 when the majority of Banyarwanda who had helped to liberate Uganda decided to leave and start their own liberation war in Rwanda.
Meanwhile, Gulu had been a special place for Kayumba. He had not only managed to amass riches from looting, such as the millet and sorghum processing machines that he took to Masaka, he also managed to get access to influential people who frequented the north due to the rebellion that was still challenging NRA authority. He got access to Salim Saleh and President Museveni during one of his visits to Gulu during the war, and got in touch with Fred Rwigema with whom he was initiated to the RPF struggle.
The instincts for looting remained with him. In 1990, the RPA captured Nyagatare in a battle that scattered many of its fighters. However, amidst the ensuing confusion, Kayumba managed to loot and repatriate cattle from residents of the Mutara area who were fleeing from the fighting, personally taking herds to his farm in Mpororo, according to officers who fought this battle.
Fast forward to 1994 after the RPF had captured power in Rwanda. Kayumba had become the deputy chief of staff of the police wing of the army, then called the gendarmerie, and soon rose to the position of army chief of staff. Museveni and Saleh looked to their Gulu friend as a soft spot for their agenda for Rwanda. In turn, Kayumba saw himself as someone linking the two countries, albeit as individual relations rather than cultivating inter-state relations. Yet gain, they became close personal friends so much so that by 1998 Kayumba was in regular contact with Museveni.
Since he was fond of bragging and appreciated being bragged about, he let it be known to another officer that he was in touch with Museveni. “So, one day I asked him, how does a chief of staff of a country talk directly with a head of state of another country?,” a source told this paper.
Whatever Museveni’s agenda for Rwanda – through Kayumba – was, he soon recruited then President Pasteur Bizumungu into it. In 1996 Museveni visited Rwanda. During his visit, he took a ride with President Bizimungu to then National University of Rwanda in Huye (then Butare) where they had gone ostensibly to engage the students there.
However, it was soon discovered that during the four-hour ride – two hours to and fro – the two were engaged in a conspiratorial discussion against the then vice president Paul Kagame. This began Bizimungu’s problems.
It was difficult to fathom that Museveni had successfully recruited moles in the status of Rwanda’s president and chief of staff. In 1998 a process began to exert some form on control on Bizimungu, including the decision by the party to separate the position of national president and party president.
Selfishly abandoning war
In 2000 Rwanda was engulfed by the war of insurgency in the north and northwest of the county. Almost 10,000 insurgents of the defeated army had infiltrated and threatened to take back the country in order to complete the genocide.
As the war heated up, the chief of staff selfishly decided that it was the opportune time to go for further studies in the U.K. Everything happened in a fishy manner, according to a source in the military.
What was on the agenda soon became clear. While in the U.K. Kayumba was always frequenting Paris where he would meet with the French intelligence and officials from Uganda. These officials would also make visits to him in the UK.
This connivance never came to an end. In 2007 Patrick Karegeya – with whom they later co-founded the RNC – fled the country through Uganda where he was received at the border crossing, and was facilitated to relocate to South Africa. While in South Africa, he received a secret visitor from the embassy of Rwanda in India: it was Kayumba Nyamwasa.
Word of the secret visit got to Kigali. Once in Kigali, Kayumba knew that the authorities were aware of his visit to Karegeya and that the offence carried heavy repercussions. “That’s why he decided to flee,” according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Museveni clearly wished to use Kayumba from within. However, once that plan was exposed, he planned to evacuate him in order to maintain the agenda from outside the country. “Kayumba got exposed and Museveni evacuated his mole,” said the source, pointing to Kayumba’s reception by Ugandan senior military officers Salim Saleh and Kale Kayihura who were waiting for him the moment he crossed the border to Ugandan soil. “What they are doing now in New Vision is an old story.”