By: Dr Theogene Rudasingwa
I was pondering Kagame’s latest move of sacking General Nyamvumba when I stumbled on an article I wrote on February 9th, 2012, titled, KAGAME: A GENERAL WITHOUT GENERALS:
General Paul Kagame’s recent « arrests » of his notorious generals and colonels (Ibingira, Rutatina, Munyuza, et al) left Rwandans and the international community speculating as to what the errant General Kagame is up too. You might recall that last year we tried to make sense of his unintelligent reshuffle in which Karenzi, Rutatina and Munyuza, officers that he distrusts, hates and despises, were to head key security organisations and departments ( National Security Agency, Directorate of Military Intelligence, and External Intelligence). We have been proved right. General Kagame’s moves, attitude, behavior and actions are more acts of desperation than coherent strategy. He may boast that he will rise and never fall, but he is a general without real generals.
Ten Things that Can Happen to General Paul Kagame’s Generals:
1. Inconsequential Promotions and Deployments:
The greatest danger signal to a general in Rwanda is when he is asked to become a Minister of Defence or head the National Security Service ( NSS). Lt. Generals Kayumba Nyamwasa and Marcel Gatsinzi have been there. Currently James Kabarebe occupies the glamourous post of Minister of Defence, essentially retired out of active military service. General Kagame is his own Defence Minister and Chief Intelligence Officer. He would never sub-contract this functions to anybody.
2. Deport to a Diplomatic Mission:
Lt. General Kayumba Nyamwasa was banished to India as Ambassador at a time when Kagame was looking for every avenue to marginalise or kill him.
3. « Agatebe » ( reduced to being redundant):
Generals will be humiliated with trumpted up charges(General Muhire, corruption; General Karenzi, sexual immorality, Rwigamba, corruption etc). Without support from the state, the officers are impoverished and left to beg for mercy from General Kagame.
General Kagame has criminalized his Generals. From the killing of President Habyarimana, President Ntaryamira, President Laurent Kabila, the crimes of Kibeho and Democratic Republic of Congo, the assassinations of his comrades in the RPA, Seth Sendashonga, Lizinde, Kayumba assassination attempt, and many others, General Kagame has corrupted otherwise good officers to become criminals. Now they are trapped with him as co-criminals.
5. Send to DRC on commercial errands:
With an appetite for DRC’s mineral wealth, General Kagame has sent his Generals to loot for him. When their actions become public knowledge, he disowns and arrests them. Trader-in-Chief becomes law and discipline enforcer, prosecutor and Judge.
General Kagame uses Generals to spy on each other, as they compete for his ear, attention and favors. He keeps dossiers on them and at the opportune moment blackmails them into silence and forced loyalty to him.
Like in the Stalinist era, Generals who have fallen from grace are asked by Kagame’s coterie of civilian and military (RPF and RDF) officers to apologize for sins they did not commit and abandon bad influences. Inyumba, Tito Rutaremara, James kabarebe, Kayonga, et al have tried this on Nyamwasa, Karegeya, and many others.
8. Start a war:
General Kagame has always been the General who leads from the safety of the rear. He does not care who goes to war, and whether they survive or not. He has made his Generals behave like automatons who must fight his futile wars in Congo, wars without purpose, wars of plunder, and very costly wars in human terms. While Kagame’s generals are 99.99% Tutsi, the expendable men are mostly Hutu.
General Kagame takes Rwanda Defence Forces as his personal army. Frequently, after beating officers, he chases them out of « his army ».
10. Kill them:
Ultimately, if a General cannot bend to Kagame’s way, he must be killed. The cases of Nyamwasa and Karegeya illustrate this point. Kagame uses meetings with officers to hammer this point to his Generals and other officers.
Napoleon once said that an army moves on its stomach. He probably over-emphasised the stomach part and forgot that an army, and its generals as its leaders, must have a national purpose and a conscience that defends a people, not the commercial and personal interests of a dictator. General Kagame has destroyed Rwanda’s Generals. He has become a General without Generals. And the generals have become an endangered species. Only themselves and the Rwandan citizens will save them from extinction.
That was eight years ago. The victims change and pile up, but the chief perpetrator remains the same. The party-military-intelligence nexus periodically undergoes more lethal mutations, permutations and combinations but its essence remains the same.
Rwanda’s army, which was conceived by Tutsi refugees and born in Uganda, crossing into Rwanda at Kagitumba on the morning of 1st October, 1990, has become more and more a tool for Kagame’s despotic rule. The rise and final fall of General Nyamvumba, like so many before him, should not surprise anyone familiar with Kagame’s choreographed script. It fits the pattern of precarious living of Rwanda’s predominantly Tutsi-led and Tutsi-dominated military and intelligence services.
After his removal from the more powerful post of Chief of the Defence Forces to Minister of Internal Security, public humiliation and haranguing in the annual torture event Kagame ironically baptized “umwiherero” (retreat), it was a question of time when the general would face his dishonorable exit. He now joins the swelling ranks of several other generals on agatebe (living in limbo), in jail, exile, or on waiting list to be conveniently disposed when the opportune moment presents itself.
Increasingly under siege from within and without, Kagame and his wife are retooling the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF), the intelligence services and the party (RPF) further entrench their family rule.
There are undercurrents in this Kagame family-mediated military re-alignment:
1. “De-Ugandanization”: General Nyamvumba is the last one among Kagame’s peers of officers who came from Uganda, and who until recently constituted the backbone of the military. Kagame’s quarrels with Uganda has left him with a compulsive aversion to anything that smells of Uganda.
2. “Burundization”: Under the increasing influence of his wife Jeanette Kagame, Kagame has now placed the military and intelligence services under the command of his former military escorts and aides from Burundi. RPF’s Secretary General is also a Tutsi from Burundi. The Tutsi officers who were born and raised in Burundi in the era of Presidents Micombero, Bagaza and Buyoya share with Kagame a superiority complex, and deep disdain for the Hutu community whom they consider to be a vanquished lot that must be kept on the margins of power structures in shameful bondage.
3. “Tutsification” with intra-ethnic attrition: Fearful of the very Tutsi who put and maintain him in power, he simultaneously deepens exclusive control of the military and intelligence by Tutsi officers, while waging a war of attrition against any real or imaginary Tutsi competitors for power.
4. “De-Hutufication”; Except for occasional, symbolic and cosmetic purposes, Hutu elements are allowed into the rather impenetrable higher echelons of the Tutsi-dominated military.The core doctrine of Rwanda’s military is to regard Hutu as the enemy that must be kept in check, fought, overwhelmed or decimated anywhere, everywhere, and by any means necessary.
5. Internationalization as business and public relations: Kagame has deployed the military to extract hard currency from United Nations peacekeeping mission, with little benefit to the officers and men. Rwanda’s peacekeeping missions are also a public relations gimmick by Kagame, a tool for blackmailing the international community into guilt and silence, as well as an instrument of rewarding loyalty, while pocketing the bulk of the proceeds for criminal purposes and personal use.
6. Divide et impera, divide ut regnes: The military is used to enforce Kagame’s unwritten maxims of divide and rule, divide and reign within Rwandan society and regionally. The military itself is a victim of his divisive nepotism that undermines professionalization of the military.
7. Toxic Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; In a stretch of almost four decades, from Luwero Triangle and Northern Uganda, to the killings fields of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the officers and men in Rwanda’s military have as much trauma as they have inflicted. Kagame himself is a victim who is in denial, who in turn has inflicted more trauma than any of Rwanda’s rulers (or even African rulers) in the entire history of Rwanda, the Great lakes region and Africa.
Most officers and men began their fateful journeys as children who were born and raised in refugee camps, recruited as kadogos (children soldiers) in the National Resistance Army of Uganda, and later in RPF’s Rwandese Patriotic Army.
Toxic stress response can occur when a child experiences strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity—such as physical or emotional abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness, exposure to violence, and/or the accumulated burdens of family economic hardship—without adequate adult support.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.
There is pervasive and untreated trauma in Rwanda’s military, and Rwandan society. Kagame is a feared absolute ruler who more resembles a conquering monarch than a modern statesman willing to meet his people in their quest for healing from toxic stress and trauma. He suffers from trauma for which he will not seek help. He unleashes unbearable trauma to what he calls “my army”, as he administers even more trauma to all Rwandan citizens and Africans in Rwanda’s equally traumatized neighborhood.
Even Phillip II of Macedon, Rome’s Julius Caesar, and France’s Napoleon, to whom divide et impera and divide ut regnes, are attributed, once ruled kingdoms and empires that eventually ended.
General Kagame plays dangerous and risky games while Rwanda and the Great Lakes region burn. He will not stop sacrificing Rwanda’s generals and Rwandan people.
However, the writing is on the wall. His rule’s end will come.