I read an article in Umuseso N° 292 of August 21-28, 2007 allegedly written by one unnamed demobilized soldier (demob) appealing to President Paul Kagame to pay him and his colleagues 9 months salaries that they were not paid in 1995.
After reading the story, I remembered listening to a discussion between three soldiers when I was travelling in a minibus from Kibungo to Kigali in 1995. Their discussion centred on 9 months salaries that they had not been paid.
I could not ask them many questions since I had also not been paid for the sometime. More so, I was not used to the military. From what I overheard, the soldiers were in support of a certain bold move allegedly by President Paul Kagame (then Vice-President and Minister of Defence).
After realizing that they were friendly, I asked them what they were discussing and one of them replied that it was an institutional matter whose explanation they were fully satisfied with.
His colleague intervened and asked me whether I would be happy to have Frw100, 000 in my pocket and get overrun by an enemy or have nothing in my pocket but be able to repulse and defeat the enemy.
I then quickly connected the question with the issue of salaries they were talking about and developed an impression that the money might have been used to buy some logistical materials for the RPA.
I have no doubt this is the money Umuseso is talking about.
Think about it! There was literally no defence budget at that time.
There was insecurity in the country caused by Interahamwe and some members of ex-FAR that were still hiding in the country.
The genocidal forces in the former Zaïre (Present day Democratic Republic of Congo) were also preparing to launch a massive attack on Rwanda and were certainly better equipped than the RPA.
As if this was not enough, the RPA were at that time dressed slightly better than a rag- tag army.
A bold decision was needed and it could not have been taken by anyone else other than Paul Kagame who had led the RPA to victory.
I do not know the explanations that the Defence/Army leadership gave the soldiers in regard to the salaries.
Some people may argue however that the decision to use the soldiers’ salaries was undemocratic.
This may be convincing to some people but remember that benevolent dictatorship is some times useful especially when there is a crisis and a visionary leadership in place. One demobilised soldier might be unhappy about it but mark you, I doubt if all of us including the demobilised soldiers would still be alive today if the genocidaires in the then Zaire had overrun our country.
Whereas in some other countries such money would have ended in individuals’ pockets, I am sure this did not happen in Rwanda thanks to the defence and military leadership. I am happy that neither the demob nor Umuseso did mention any embezzlement of money this time.
Bravo RDF for paying sacrifice even when other people are hesitant. Unlike some of us you paid sacrifice just like you had done before. Unlike the demob who wrote the letter you have maintained your sacrifice and even discipline.
I guess it was because of indiscipline that the demobilised were indeed demobilized. While he/she is crying for the money he at the same time depicts disrespect for the President and the RDF leadership as well as other institutions such the National Police.
The demob also drags all irrelevancies in his letter including the trial of what he terms as ‘innocent people such as Rwigara.” Poor Demob are you a judge? The Demob further refers to Rwanda National Police as Rwigamba Police. Does this demob know that the President he is appealing to is the overall overseer of almost if not all the institutions in the country?
I also salute the RDF for serving with commitment and dedication even under difficult conditions including low salaries.
This is indeed very unfortunate. But remember the government is aware of it. Your Commander in Chief and the RDF leadership are certainly aware about it. Rest assured they have no hatred or segregation against you.
I am sure they will not rest before they find a solution to these problems. Unlike the poor Demob, they do more actions than talking and lamenting. The RDF is a popular army and we are fully behind it.
Back to the Demob now, you cannot be paid for all the sacrifices you made. Your primitive language cannot make you be heard. No sane person will respect you if you cannot respect other people especially the leadership of this country. I am sure this is one of the reasons why you are paying the price.
There is no reason of hiding your name if you are convinced that you have a justifiable reason. You must be hiding your name simply because you are guilty of your bad intentions and the uncivilized language you are using. Believe me you; what you are looking for is not money. It is something else. Otherwise you would not be using that language.
The writer is an analyst on political issues