By Alex Muhumuza
With pressure mounting upon RNC head Kayumba Nyamwasa and his close friend Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho, boss of Ugandan Military Intelligence (CMI), to account for Ben Rutabana, both men are scrambling, and taking to their propaganda organs to try to absolve themselves of blame.
Rutabana is a high-ranking official of RNC that went missing in Uganda on 8 September last year – last seen in public in Mbarara in the company of high-ranking RNC officials Pastor Deo Nyirigira (Chairman “RNC Uganda Province) and Sam Ruvuma, as well as CMI agent Maj. Mushambo – head of counterintelligence, UPDF Second Division, Mbarara – and two other agents.
After Rutabana went missing it was his family that raised the alarm. In a letter signed 02 October 2019 they took the RNC leadership (and by implication RNC’s Ugandan partners) to task to produce him. Nyamwasa (and CMI) at the time just ignored the letter. “They probably were reasoning that after a time the family would shut up, and the issue forgotten,” an observer said.
But the chickens are coming home to roost for CMI and RNC.
An American organization, the International Relief and Human Rights Initiative (IRHRI) has released what’s being called “a bombshell report”, pinpointing CMI as the one responsible for the disappearance of Rutabana, a Rwandan with French citizenship. The report, released on 25 last month, among other things states: “a few days after his (Rutabana) arrival in Uganda, he was arrested and taken to Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence offices in Mbuya.” By implication, RNC is mentioned as equally culpable.
Where Nyamwasa and Kandiho miscalculated, according to observers, is that much as Rutabana is a member of a terrorist group, he is a citizen of France; moreover one that was a permanent resident of Belgium. “They could harass, persecute, arbitrarily arrest, torture and even kill a lot of innocent Rwandan citizens that crossed to Uganda, with all impunity, and the most Rwanda could do was strongly warn her people against travel to Uganda,” said an analyst.
“But with a citizen of France, much pressure can be brought to bear: this is a powerful member of the European Union; one that gives much aid to Uganda.”
Now an American rights group is pinning CMI and both Kandiho and Nyamwasa are in high panic, going by their acts. After Kandiho rushed to try to absolve himself with an article last Thursday in Chimpreports – one of the numerous propaganda outlets that his organization controls and funds – Nyamwasa followed suit.
He went on RNC online mouthpiece Radio Itahuka, to try to absolve himself the same way Kandiho had, by scapegoating Kigali.
On Itahuka Nyamwasa was making allegations “every bit as childish as the ones of Kandiho in Chimpreports” in trying to deflect blame upon Rwanda, observers noted.
Reverting to crocodile tears mode, Nyamwasa claims: “firstly, it is sad because Ben Rutabana has a wife, children and extended family and until today we don’t know his whereabouts…my prayer is for him to be found safe.” One that read the Rutabana family letter to the RNC will notice what a shameless lie this is.
Diane Rutabana, together with several family members, released the letter on 02 October 2019, meaning 25 days after Rutabana went missing – on 08 September 2019. In that time the Rutabana family members, as they say themselves, frantically and repeatedly asked the RNC leadership where their family member was. It makes one ask: if Nyamwasa is “so concerned for Rutabana and his family”, and “is praying for them”, what was he doing during the 25 days when they were begging, pleading and asking him about Rutabana’s whereabouts? What explains his complete silence?
In fact it was after the family members realized Nyamwasa and other RNC bigwigs were determined to ignore them that they went public with their letter.
Fast-forward to July 25, following the Americans’ report, and only now is Nyamwasa pretending concern for Rutabana family, and blaming Rwanda?
On Itahuka, Nyamwasa levels a lot of allegations against Rwanda that, the more one thinks of it, one realizes they actually further incriminate Nyamwasa and his Ugandan allies. He, for instance, asks: “how can Kayumba go to Uganda and jail Rutabana who is a French citizen, and Uganda simply allows to have problems with France, just because they like Kayumba?”
Notice how he brings up France, unprompted, by himself?, people will wonder.
This is a scared man, realizing how badly they blundered in abducting someone with such a nationality. As for his rhetorical question: how can Kayumba go to Uganda to jail Rutabana… did anyone say he did?
It is clear he simply got in touch with Kandiho, and with his RNC “Uganda Province” agents to do the job.
All facts show Kandiho abducted Rutabana on the request of Nyamwasa. Rutabana “had taken to challenging Nyamwasa’s leadership style of RNC; questioning Nyamwasa’s mismanagement of RNC member funds, and his nepotistic style of assigning close family members – like his brother in law Frank Ntwari – the most important duties,” said a Diaspora source. “Rutabana, in Nyamwasa’s view, had become a real threat.”
In fact, according to the letter of the Rutabana family members, which widely circulated on the Internet, other RNC members had warned him against travel to Uganda since “Nyamwasa’s friends” (CMI) could arrest him. But he failed to heed these warnings, “probably thinking he still retained sufficient goodwill in Ugandan intelligence circles. But he was wrong and they abducted him,” a source said.
They thought it would go the same way as when they kidnap countless Rwandans, and kill whomever they want with no consequences. But now they have felt the consequences, more so Nyamwasa, Rwandan analysts say. Not only is Nyamwasa now sweating because of the questions and investigations about Rutabana that refuse to go away, the latter’s family has kept applying pressure that has unraveled RNC.
From Europe, Rutabana’s family through its friends – prominent members of RNC – in North America, and elsewhere have been defecting. Individuals like Jean Paul Turayishimiye, the RNC head of intelligence, and de facto spokesperson has quit the terror outfit, accusing Nyamwasa of Rutabana’s disappearance. Several others, among them Leah Karegeya too have quit.
“Rutabana has become a truly hot potato for Kayumba and Kandiho,” Rwandan Internet bloggers laugh.