By: Dr David Himbara
I am shocked that people are shocked by General Paul Kagame’s purge of Rwanda’s military leadership. Defence Minister Major General Albert Murasira and Chief of Defence Staff of the Rwanda Defence Force General Jean Bosco Kazura have suffered what is known in Rwanda as “kwicanzwa kugatebe.” The two generals have to sit at home until Kagame decides what to do with them. Major General Aloys Muganga and Brigadier General Francis Mutiganda were thrown out of the military outright.
The new purge goes beyond the four generals – another 14 officers and over 200 soldiers were also dismissed.
There is nothing new here. The purging of Rwanda’s top military echelon goes on all the time. Here is a sample of top military leaders that Kagame purged in the past:
1) General Sam Kaka, former Chef of Staff;
2) General Kayumba Nyamwasa, former Chief of Staff;
3) General Charles Kayonga, former Chief of Defence Staff;
4) General Patrick Nyamvumba, former Chief of the Rwandan Defence Force;
5) General Charles Muhire, former Air Force Chef of Staff;
6) General Karake Karenzi, former chief of National Intelligence and Security Services;
7) General Frank Rusagara, secretary general of the Defense Ministry;
8) General Richard Rutatina; and
9) General Emmanuel Ndahiro, former head of National Intelligence and Security Services.
Kagame’s chronic purging of top military leadership fits perfectly with the psychology of totalitarian rulers the world over – power, fear and anxiety.
Winston Churchill described the dictator dilemma perfectly. “Dictators ride to and fro on tigers from which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.”
In General Paul Kagame’s case, the source of his paranoia is the history of regime change in Rwanda. Colonel Guillaume Guy Logiest, the last Belgian ruler in Rwanda led the coup d’etat that installed Grégoire Kayibanda as head of state. General Juvenal Habyarimana overthrew Kayibanda, murdering his entire cabinet of ministers and other high officials. General Paul Kagame was the next after Habyarimana was shot down as his aircraft was landing at the Kigali airport.