The second retirement phase of the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) has seen 843 soldiers including two generals, six colonels, and two lieutenant colonels retire.
During the soldiers’ retirement send-off ceremony at the RDF Senior Officers’ Mess in Kimihurura, Tuesday evening, nine of the top ranking were presented with special certificates by defense minister James Kabarebe who extolled their service and sacrifice for the nation.
They included Lt. Gen. Charles Muhire, Brig. Gen. Nobert Kalimba, and six colonels; Munyaneza Muzungu, Alphonse Gahima, Mike Nkurunziza, Charles Shema, Martin Ndamage and Callixte Kanimba.
There are also two Lieutenant Colonels, Eugene Rutagyengwa and Tom Mpezamihigo.
Muhire is former chief of staff, Air Force, while Kalimba who has also served in various capacities, including Rwanda's Defence Liaison officer at the East African Community (EAC) and UNAMID Chief of Staff, among others.
Kabarebe told the retirees that they have all contributed to the professionalization of the RDF and in national development and, that with all their personal dedication, commitment and patriotism.
“You have all made personal sacrifices and contributed to make Rwanda a country we are proud to call home. You go to retirement when the country has celebrated 20 years of liberation. You have all personally contributed to the liberation of Rwanda,” said Kabarebe.
“Most of you played an active role in the launch of the liberation struggle in October 1990, in the campaign to stop Genocide from April 7 to July 4, 1994, participation in various military campaigns both in fighting insurgencies and bringing regional and international peace”.
He told them that retirement is a normal phase in the professional military career which was healthy for both the individual and the institution.
“The many years of military career can only be successful if you are sure of continuity of the institution and the ideals that you fought for. That is why RDF has to make the recruitment of a young generation to carry on the battle of liberation.”
They will now move on to positions of elders and advisors to mentor the new officers of the RDF. Relevant provisions of the law have been, he said, and they will be given their full retirement entitlements.
“As the RDF family, our gathering here tonight gives us the opportunity to wish you success in your future endeavors and we urge you to remain responsible citizens and uphold the true values of the institution that you served so dearly not forgetting that you remain members of the RDF,” Kabarebe said.
As they retire to face new challenges in life, he said, they should always be sure that their mother institution will always be by their side.
Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, also extolled the retirees for their national service adding that it was their individual contributions that made the RDF the commendable and strong force it was today.
“I have no doubts that you will successfully take on and accomplish your other assignments in life. And I strongly thank you for your dedication and selflessness in service,” Nyamvumba, said.
In a speech on behalf of his colleague retirees, Muhire expressed appreciation to the Commander-in-Chief and the entire RDF community.
“A retirement speech is usually one of nostalgia, and remembering as we attempt to recall many years of our lives in the military and highlights and sentimental stories worth recalling,” said Muhire.
He added that they retire very convinced and contented that the forces were ever combat ready, versatile, disciplined and reliable. They have much to be thankful for, he said, in a career that made their lives fuller and richer.
“We retire prepared,” Muhire said, adding that their military career molded them for future roles as custodians of national defence.
“We’ve been privileged to serve in one of the best armies in Africa and we are confident that our young generation in uniform will carry on with the same determination and love of our country.
“We are indebted to the Commander-in-Chief whom we served under – who made us understand the art of war, values of unreserved service to the motherland, what dignity is all about, honor, love and commitment”.
Maj René Ngendahimana, Deputy Defence and Military Spokesperson, told The New Times that retirement age for generals was 55, while senior officers from the rank of major to colonel retire at 50. Junior officers and Non-Commissioned Officers can retire at 45, according to the RDF statute.
The retirees’ entitlements include three years of gross salary.