By Eleneus Akanga
From bomb thrower, incompetent army officer and now petty thief! Rwanda or at least the government mouth piece wants us to believe that Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, the country’s former Army Chief of Staff, now a refugee in South Africa, was always a bad grape.
When news broke in March this year that the general had fled the country, Rwanda was quick to dismiss him as a very incompetent officer, who as they claimed “had always believed in gaining cheap popularity and had at one point abandoned comrades on the battle field”. Because, Gen. Kayumba’s record was there for many to see, this version of events did not sell. As a counter measure, the government decided to instead accuse him of throwing grenades. That too, did not seem to sell as expected. President Kagame himself decided to step in, branding Nyamwasa, a nobody, with some reports even suggesting he (Kagame) had referred to both Gen. Kayumba and Col. Patrick Karegeya as human excrete! Talk about stooping so low!
That again did not seem to achieve the aim. President Kagame instead, decided this time, to grant an exclusive interview to The Daily Monitor, one of Uganda’s leading English newspapers to shed more light on Nyamwasa – the menace. Why Daily Monitor and not Rwanda’s New Times is something I will explain later.
The exclusive interview seemed to have achieved its aim until Gen. Nyamwasa sent in a rejoinder. It was to reveal much more than everyone else knew. And it is this well written and clearly thought out response from the general that according to a close source, Kigali is still wondering whether it should have ruthlessly pursued Nyamwasa in the papers like it did.
I am going into all this just to get you my readers into the reason I have decided to come up with this short piece.
Just like technology has saved the world from all the hustles of everyday life, The New Times has saved the regime in Kigali all the hustle, except, in technology’s case, the technicians have been wise enough to realise where to put stops and where not to.
In case you are wondering, read today’s opinion in The New Times. The writer “Mr. Anonymous” or if you may, a retired RDF officer, is trying to tell the world the truth about Gen. Nyamwasa.
He begins by telling readers that besides working closely with Nyamwasa, he actually lived with him. He is not shy to even reveal that he got involved in dubious deals with the exiled general transporting looted merchandise from Northern Uganda where they were based, to Nyamwasa’s flat in Bugolobi.
The retired RDF officer goes on: “Between 1988 and 1990, I participated in dirty deals in which Kayumba used to loot Wanainchi property ranging from maize milling machines to large sums of money from the North”. Not enough confession to press charges? Wait and see!
“These milling machines would later be sold to Vendors in Owino market in Kampala,” he goes on arguing that “a share of some of the proceeds from the loot would be given to some NRM/NRA cadres and senior commanders especially those who were involved in the operations in Northern Uganda, to earn Kayumba remarkable cheap popularity within the senior NRA command and staff officers despite the fact that he was just a Second Lieutenant (2Lt)”.
Unless Mr. Anonymous thinks we are all stupid, it would be foolhardy of him/her to believe anyone is going to fall for this bunkum. Even if it were true, is it possible, leave alone logical that proceeds from milling machines could buy the loyalty of NRM/NRA cadres and senior commanders for as he /she says “remarkable” cheap popularity?
Even if it were true, Mr. Anonymous and Gen. Nyamwasa would have had to ferry trucks and trucks of milling machines, to be able to raise enough money to bribe senior cadres and officers and hope too that everyone at Owino be in demand of milling machines!
If Rwanda or President Kagame is what he claims to be (a no nonsense disciplinarian who does not tolerate corruption and hates working with crooks) he should order the arrest and immediate detention of Mr. Anonymous. For, not only is this fellow a criminal and an accessory to a crime, he, having been privy to this information for so many years and served in the RDF with this kind of spirit, tells much of who actually RDF is composed of.
And for The New Times, to have allowed to publish this piece by Mr. Anonymous as its main opinion piece reveals much. Many a time, The New Times has been rightly referred to as Kagame’s mouth piece much to the annoyance of those who support it. If this had been a story, published in say, Umurabyo, Umuseso or Umuvugizi, the High Council of the Press would be up in arms against the publishers demanding that either the publication reveal the name of the author or risk being suspended for good. Sadly, because it is The New Times, no one will be summoned or even questioned. The New Times can gladly mystify and demonise people, including officers and men who gave half their adult life fighting for Rwanda, and nothing happens. Why? Because it is well insulated.
This is a newspaper, that Rwanda and Kagame’s government will want you to take seriously, believe as a model publication and an authoritative source of news on Rwanda. As the only remaining newspaper in Rwanda or one of the few remaining ones (they arent many left) in the run-up to elections, the government will want you to believe its stories on the forthcoming elections.
But if this is a publication that very clearly has shown itself as lacking in both professionalism and content, why should anyone really care or believe what it writes?
Is it any wonder then that President Kagame, himself shuns it, and chooses instead to grant his exclusives to the likes of The Daily Monitor, Jeune Afrique and SABC?
You can fool the world for sometime but you cannot fool the world forever.
There are not many people who were so close to Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa while still a junior officer both in Northern Uganda and later in Rwanda. There can only be 2 or three. And these would include the current head of state. Are we not to believe that President Kagame or one of the few other high ranking officers under his command today would be Mr. Anonymous?
And what happens if it is later found out that one of our senior officers oversaw and participated in the looting of milling machines and chose to conceal the info until July 2010?
Yet another reason to fear for Rwanda. Be very afraid my friends. Over to you my little monsters…