When Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa tried to become a star in the media, portraying how he has always been “the good guy” and how he was being deprived of his stardom, I and surely many others who worked with him were perplexed. I, however, took time to reminiscence.
Later, I thought it would be a failure in my duty as a revolutionary and a freedom fighter to allow such a fleeting occasion to pass without sharing what I, personally, know about Kayumba. Things I learned and discovered while serving as an officer under his leadership. Kayumba was my senior all through our liberation struggle and thereafter.
I know him well. I would wish to write widely, but, today, I will dwell on his statement that was published on May 30, in the Sunday Monitor, specifically, claiming he never believed in some of the battles he commanded.
He writes that he served with President Kagame for the last 16 years, and that he was, for some time, the Army Chief of Staff. It was very lame of him to claim that he was naive when he commanded Rwandan officers, me inclusive, to fight battles he did not believe in.
Acceptance of treachery?
Why would one send troops to fight battles one does not believe in? In the first place, why accept the command? Wrong question to Gen Kayumba, The question to him should be, why go through a lot of intrigue, lies and machinations to get that command?
Those who served with him know what I mean but going to the media and saying what he did, has now made it public knowledge. Most of those who served with or under him had, for military etiquette purposes, tried to keep it an in-house secret.
Command in military terms, is authority given to individuals to lawfully exercise over others, by virtue of rank or assignment. It includes the responsibility and authority to effectively use available resources, not to mention to plan the deployment, organization, direction, coordination and control of military forces to accomplish assigned missions.
A good military leader should make honest considerations and should always have determined efforts to gain thorough and detailed knowledge of his or her officers and men. He or she, should always strive to know the socio-economic and family backgrounds, habits, trends, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses of his or her subordinates and even superiors.
The same leader should, through experience, develop a system of recognizing capabilities of his/her subordinates so as to utilize and employ them more effectively.
Gen Kayumba was wanting in all these qualities. He over centralized his command and in most cases deviated from the normal chain of command. This caused many problems for officers and even men who served with him while executing their duties.
Many can attest to this. For instance, he was known to regularly host “friend” officers and men in his office or command post. During such receptions, he would have - chit chat - sessions with them which, at times, resulted in outright cash donations, promises of promotions within military ranks, among other favours. Of course, his “non friend” officers and men would, in the course of the chit chat - be mentioned and criticized.
Word would get to all and sundry, courtesy of his “friends”, sometimes from himself and his escorts. If one were lucky, he/she would quietly get advice, from a confidant, to be “friendly” to the General so that he/she does not feature negatively in the next informal chat session and perhaps be a beneficiary of the favours.
These were the exploits of Lt Gen Kayumba as Army Chief of Staff. As his former subordinate, I feel betrayed by his open disclosure of treason. So, when he was briefing Rwandan gallant officers and men to go fight in The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he was not serious?
What about those who died there? What about their families? His excuse is that he was naive. Command responsibility is complete and total. General Kayumba knows that a Commander is responsible for everything that his troops do or fail to do.
Retired RDF Officer