The former High Commissioner to India, Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa fled the country to Uganda through what is popularly known in East Africa as a “panya” [mouse] route on 26 February 2010. This came as a surprise to those who did not have background information about him. Since that time, a number of questions have been raised.
The questions range from the reason for falling out with the system and for ultimately fleeing the country, to whether Kayumba poses a threat to national security.
Kayumba’s character and leadership history in the Rwandan military together with the criminal activities that he was being questioned about when he escaped explains why he is shamelessly where he is today. Indeed, which other General would stand the humiliation of reporting to foreign intelligence services and the humiliation of reporting to international organisations such the UNHCR?
The RDF general officers and senior officers had always been concerned about Kayumba’s traits and behaviour.
This is precisely why for instance a group of Generals and senior officers met him as far back as 2003 and tried to advise him with the hope that he would change and be part of the force that would propel Rwanda to greater heights.
The officers were concerned with Kayumba’s nepotism, intrigues, divisionism and primitive accumulation of wealth, among others.
The principle revolutionary method of work in the Rwanda Defence Force [RDF] has always been to ensure that every comrade is brought on board and that the whole institution moves ahead in the same and right direction.
The RDF is probably the only military institution where juniors are encouraged to criticise their superiors in an open and constructive manner, both in formal and informal fora, and vice versa.
Although the revolutionary practice of tolerance, patience, and open and constructive criticism that has been widely used within the RDF institution is a good practice, and although the practice has by and large produced very good results, it has also been abused by some in the institution as Kayumba did over the past couple of years.
The practice has helped in reforming a number of RDF personnel but it has not been effective on the likes of Kayumba Nyamwasa, Alphonse Furuma, Frank Tega, Patrick Karegyeya and Michael Mupende, to mention examples.
For quite some time the RDF gave Kayumba a chance to reform but he actually never did. He chose to abuse this positive gesture and to work against a system he was supposed to be serving; a system that earned him respect from the wider world.
Kayumba’s story is simple and straight forward. It does not need any deep analysis. Kayumba did not fall out with the top leadership of Rwanda for the reasons that he and his fellow errands would want the world to believe.
He failed to make the best out of the opportunity given to him by the leadership and by his fellow officers. Kayumba is simply a victim of the clash of his true self on one hand, and of values, ethics and principles on the other.
The leadership of Rwanda and in particular, the President and Commander-in- Chief of the RDF, is patient and tolerant but also very demanding. He demands much in terms of patriotism, humility, sacrifice, discipline, accountability, transparency, justice and integrity.
Kayumba who cherishes nepotism, greed, divisionism, intrigues and self glorification as evidence shows could not meet these demands; the fact that he has mastered the art of pretence and concealing his true character notwithstanding.
It is this incompatibility that explains his current relations with the system. Kayumba, then a diplomat also got involved in serious criminal activities.
It is these criminal activities that investigation and prosecution organs wanted him to clarify when he fled the country. Simply put, Kayumba is now a victim of the process of Natural Selection in Rwanda that eliminates those not fit for the name of generals or revolutionaries.
Unfortunately, it is Kayumba’s lack of values and principles that he would like to twist and use to hoodwink the whole world in believing that there is a dictatorial Government in Rwanda that is victimising him.
He is doing so with the hope that he can possibly earn sympathies while also tarnishing the credibility and good name of the President of Rwanda and Commander – in –Chief of the RDF, and of the RDF in general. He is doing so to cover up his criminal activities.
The claim by Kayumba that he fled the country because there is no rule – of – law in Rwanda and did not expect a fair trial over the issues he had been asked to explain is simply laughable and holds no water at all.
Kayumba himself admits having been confronted with some of these issues since 2003. Why didn’t he resign then, and particularly when he was confronted with evidence of self aggrandisement and other malpractices by his fellow officers? Shamelessly, Kayumba talks of a dictatorial regime in Rwanda, a regime he served since its inception.
Did the Government of Rwanda become dictatorial after Kayumba had fled? The truth of the matter is that when Kayumba learnt that the prosecution authorities had evidence or even clues to his involvement in criminal activities way beyond the issues earlier raised with him, he decided to flee. In actual fact he fled after passing a personal judgement against himself.
As to whether Kayumba is a threat to national security, the answer is a big no. Kayumba tried to divide and destroy the RDF from within. He failed miserably. Kayumba cannot therefore achieve what he failed to attain as an Army Chief of Staff then when he is a fugitive.
Having said that, the RDF shall always work with other security stakeholders to ensure that all Rwandans continue to live in a safe and secure country, to the extent that even a stone thrower may be regarded as a threat to national security.
The RDF takes this opportunity to assure the people of Rwanda that no individuals can threaten their security and that of the State, leave alone fugitives. Kayumba and his fellow errands are losers and they will remain losers in their treacherous game.
The author is the RDF Spokesman.