Rwanda’s former Army Chief of Staff and Ambassador to India Lt. Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa survived an assassination plot on his life yesterday at his residence in Johannesburg but as the revered soldier recuperates in hospital, questions about this incident should be aimed in one direction – Kigali.
Some people will argue that South Africa is a very chaotic country with a high crime rate and that we should consider the possibility of this, having been a case of a robbery gone wrong. Well, to this notion, I say no. Believable as it may seem, such an argument can only hold water if you neglect the rhetoric in the form of accusations and allegations that have been coming out of Kigali.
Gen Nyamwasa it has to be said, is a big fish. He had his moment, spells when he was considered by the regime in Kigali, as a right hand man. He was at one point, Kagame’s blue eyed boy, and rightly so. A lawyer by profession, Gen Nyamwasa was successful at school as he was on the battlefield. Put bluntly, he is not just any other Rwandan soldier; he is an intelligent and learned Rwandan officer.
He gave his life, well, most of his adult life, serving and promoting the interests of a country he regarded as his own. His name even appears on a series of warrants that have been issued in relation to the collective activities of the people with whom he served. When there were wars that had to be fought, he fought them. Those he felt were useless, he flatly rejected. In his own words, he saw no reason of fighting useless wars. These were decisions that were largely based on his personal critique of the whole concept about wars for riches and wars with a cause. Strangely, his superiors resented him for choosing reason over lunacy leading to a combination of misunderstandings that eventually culminated in a massive fall out.
Fearing for his life, Gen Nyamwasa fled the country he had helped liberate to South Africa – the only country to offer him sanctuary. In South Africa, he was accused together with his comrade Col. Patrick Karegeya, Rwanda’s former intelligence chief, of terrorism. Kigali was even quick to accuse the two for being behind the grenade attacks that rocked Rwanda’s capital in April. Day after day, the state engineered missives and write ups in the government controlled newspaper The New Times alleging that the two had run away from corruption cases and accountability issues. Kagame himself went about telling whichever magazine or newspaper that was willing to listen, that the two were ‘flies who needed to be crashed’. First a demobilised soldier and then Jill Rutaremara, the army spokesman and later Job Jabiro went on record to trash Kayumba as a soldier responsible for his own downfall.
The accusations and attacks were relentless. It was clear what Kagame wanted. Get the two back to Rwanda, gag them as he has done to all the opposition and lock them up in some safe place where the only people to talk to would be fellow prisoners .
But when Gen Nyamwasa decided in May to put the record straight by writing a rejoinder in the same newspaper that Kagame had used to tarnish his (Nyamwasa) name, Kigali were caught pants down. The amount of detail and precision with which he delivered his well written piece in the Daily Monitor shook Kigali.
Kagame had fallen out with Kayumba yes, but there seemed to be something new in the general’s well written rejoinder that shook him to bits. The revelation that the Bombardier Global Express BD-700 jets – with a new price tag of $50-million each, acquired by Rwanda in 2003 and 2008 respectively were actually Kagame’s. Put into context, the revelation of such an out of touch spending by the head of state whose sound-bites had always been hummed around accountability and good governance made Kagame look like the thief in chief, especially given the fact that such luxury came at the expense of 60% Rwandese whom the UN says live in poverty.
The government of course tried to cover this up but the well kept secret had been leaked and Kayumba was seen by Kagame as the man who could sink the ship. So, what does the government do?
It will have to be proven for anyone to conclusively and without a shadow of a doubt place yesterday’s attempt on Gen Nyamwasa’s life on Kagame. What we can agree to however is the fact that if anyone wants Kayumba Nyamwasa dead, it is less likely the Johannesburg burglar but the smart politician from Kigali.
Gen Nyamwasa is the lucky one. His story helps raise the spectre of the infamous list of people to be eliminated as leaked on the web by my friend Keith Harmon Snow. Just goes to show that no one, and I say no one, is safe. You obviously can not be sure unless you are absolutely clear. It is weird out there but we have to live in hope.
As Kagame becomes increasingly tense, Kigali’s list of enemies will continue to grow bigger and bigger. Anyone can be on this list. Anyone of us will or could be massacred at any point. The question is, do we give up in fear of assassinations to a rampant dictator whose job is to kill all his perceived enemies both real and imaginary? Or do we stand up to the challenge and say, well, you can kill us all but the spirit and hunger for freedom shall live on forever?
Remember my friends, at the end of every chess game, the King and Pawns get to sleep in the same bag.
Good luck to you all. As to the man in hospital, I wish you a quick recovery.
…over to you my little monsters.