Kampala’s current trend of weaponising the death of Rwandan hero Maj. Gen. Fred Rwigyema against the current leadership of Rwanda has taken on a completely new dimension.
This was apparent in the publication in yesterday’s Sunday Vision of a two-page story with the headline: “I was there when Gen. Rwigyema Died – Former RPF Commander.” The Ugandan state paper’s revisionist piece, which enjoys pride of place on pages 4 and 5, is peddled as a “true account of events” by one Maj. Michael Mupende, a former Rwandan soldier.
The central claim of the story is that President Kagame was behind the demise of the first commander of the RPA.
This follows the feting earlier this month by high-ranking Ugandans and their papers of Rwigyema, heaping praise on him, “in a way that heavily insinuated he was the good guy, and Kagame the bad one,” said a Kigali observer. “They have been using Rwigyema’s demise to sow disaffection for the Rwandan leadership, and it has long been an agenda by now,” he added.
That is how the New Vision is quoting some obscure man, Mupende – someone the facts show he wasn’t around when Gen. Rwigyema died – claiming the President of Rwanda killed the hero, according to this observation. Mupende tells many demonstrable lies.
The paper quotes him saying: “I personally did not see the person who pulled the trigger, but from what his (Fred’s) bodyguards shared with me later, the suspects were among them. They said it was an officer who had been entrusted to carry the ‘sniper, silenced rifle that Rwigyema always possessed within his security.”
Mupende continues with his claims that, “apparently, Rwigyema had been convinced by someone he trusted that there were new junior officers who would be a resource to him during the struggle. These people had been newly deployed into his security detail.”
Conveniently for the writer of the hatchet piece against the Rwandan president, Mupende mentions no names, even as he insinuates he was “very close to the action.” After all he admits he didn’t see the person that did it!, a reader laughed.
Mupende does not mention a single name of those he alleges were deployed close to Rwigyema.
Neither does he mention how anyone could just deploy unknown junior soldiers to someone at the level of Major General; moreover one of the least naïve commanders the region has ever known. Above all, if the New Vision were interested in fact checking, it would find out that Mupende was a none-entity who was nowhere near the frontline when Fred died.
The New Vision however only is too happy to publish more of his allegations, that “the officer who performed that operation was killed, ‘to avoid future leakage of information’”.
A Kigali analyst upon reading the article exclaimed, “As far as lies go, this is as shoddy as those one will find in the numerous anti-Rwanda websites! But then it no longer is surprising; the New Vision long ago became like all those obscure websites with their endless mudslinging against Kigali.”
Anyone that’s remotely familiar with the struggle of the RPF will know that Maj. (at the time) Paul Kagame was away attending a military course at Fort Leavenworth, USA. Anyone interested in facts rather than rumors, innuendos and conspiracy theories knows that Fred Rwigyema was hit by fleeing enemy fire and died immediately.
The escorts of Fred that survived the war know how he died. His comrades know it. “Rwigyema was standing on a small hill watching retreating Habyarimana forces through his binoculars when enemy fire killed him with a single shot.” Generals like Sam Kaka, Caesar Kayizari and others have been emphatic on that point.
Those are the facts as recounted by those that were there when that calamity struck.
To turn around and blame President Kagame, or anyone else in the RPA that day – 29 years after the event – only further exposes the Ugandan regime’s determination to escalate anti-Rwanda hostilities, of which a campaign of propaganda and misinformation is one.
To get an idea what lengths the Kampala regime will go to, it is enough to look at the quality of its “witness”, Maj. Mupende.
This man was an officer in the Rwandan Military during the war against the Interahamwe, Ex-FAR in DRC, deployed in Kabinda, in the Kasai Orientale Province. That was in 2000 to 2001, sources say. Here, Mupende reveals himself a liar in small as well as big things. “In March 2000 I was deployed in DRC as a commanding officer for the 3rd Battalion,” he claims.
But the record shows he only was the deputy commander.
Around that time, his dubious character began to reveal itself. During an administration and policy meeting, subordinates questioned him on management of RCA funds – rations and cash allowance for soldiers. Mupende, according to his colleagues then, failed to account for funds amounting to US$ 18,000.
It was later established that he had given the money to his wife to run their personal businesses. Subsequently the issue was reported to army headquarters. When the soldiers were being recalled to Rwanda, Mupende must have detected that upon arrival in Kigali he would be questioned and made to account for the lost monies.
That’s when, our sources tell us, the man escaped to Uganda, where he had people waiting for him across the border.
“He lies that he was the commanding officer when he was second in command and also claims in the paper that there was a plan to eliminate him and that’s why he escaped; but he only did so to escape accountability for embezzlement,” laughs a former fellow military officer. Similarly, those who were there when Rwigyema died say that Mupende was nowhere near the frontline where Rwigyema fell and so there is no way he can know this so called first hand account of his death.
Obviously this is a man with many reasons to slander, smear and mudsling Rwanda.
Also, he is the kind of person that Ugandan intelligence agencies, most notably CMI, always are fishing for; to give them platforms to hurl their anti-Rwanda mud. On the other hand our sources add, it can’t have been very hard for Kampala regime officials to toss a few dollars at Mupende – who is living a hard life somewhere in the US currently and has since joined Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC– to publish his fabrications.
“To understand how Museveni’s people can so shamelessly use Fred Rwigyema’s death, even as they hypocritically proclaim “love” for him, one has to know that there is no depth to which they will not sink to advance their long-term plot to pave way for a puppet regime in Kigali,” said a Kigali writer that preferred anonymity.
It is by now a long open secret that the Ugandan ruler’s preferred puppet government in Kigali would be that of Kayumba Nyamwasa and his RNC, and the defamation that “Kagame killed Rwigyema” is part of that goal – sowing hate, disaffection and mistrust of the Kigali leadership as part of it.
Museveni’s credibility problems become more glaring when one considers how from the earliest times as head of the NRA guerrilla group, he eliminated even the closest colleagues. People like Hannington Mugabi, (shot when he and a group of others were playing cards by someone that mysteriously never was tried, because he acted on Museveni’s orders), Sam Magara, Kazahura, Bwende, (a faithful informant in Luweero), and on, to people like Andrew Kayiira whom he had murdered in front of his family!
Rather than creating fictitious stories of Rwigema’s death, Museveni will have more credibility if he tells people about the deaths of Gen James Kazini, Brig Noble Mayombo, AIGP Felix Kaweesi, SSP Muhamad Kirumira, and of course Aronda Nyakairima.
Museveni is a well-known cynical individual; a backstabbing, traitorous individual for whom murder comes almost as second nature!, long time observers have written repeatedly about the Ugandan ruler. “His problem is that he now tries to project that on the Rwandan President, something not likely to fool anyone!” observed another commentator.