By Alex Muhumuza
It has taken Chimpreports close to six months to cook up a brazen lie to feed its readers. This is a shameless piece of misinformation whose aim is to deflect blame for the disappearance of RNC member Ben Rutabana – who vanished in September last year in Uganda – upon Rwanda. But when Rutabana’s family lost contact with him, the man was in the company of Ugandan security operatives, together with operatives of Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC.
Chimpreports, a tool of misinformation under the direct control of Col. CK Asiimwe, the deputy director in charge of counterterrorism of Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, has concocted its latest lie for a couple of reasons. It tries to shift blame, or suspicion from two individuals: CMI chief Brig. Abel Kandiho – who is one of the individuals that the High Court of Kampala on 12 of this February ordered to produce the body of Rutabana – and RNC boss Kayumba Nyamwasa.
Secondly with this piece of misinformation – which Chimpreports with characteristic hyperbole titles, “Investigation: How M23’s Sultan Makenga Lured Rwandan dissident Ben Rutabana to DRC” – the CMI mouthpiece looks to kill two birds with one stone. In trying to deflect attention from the real culprits, it also attempts to tarnish Rwanda with allegations that Makenga “kidnapped Rutabana on behalf of Rwanda.”
Yet this particular lie is going to be extra difficult for CMI to peddle.
None other than the family of Ben Rutabana itself, principally his wife Diane, have directly pinned Kayumba Nyamwasa as well as Kandiho for the man’s disappearance. Contrary to Chimpreports claims that “Makenga lured Rutabana to DRC”, Rutabana’s final destination, when he left Belgium on 04 September 2019, was Uganda where he was made to understand he was on mission as RNC’s “commissioner for capacity development”.
A letter dated 02 December last year and addressed to the RNC leadership, which was signed by nine members of Rutabana’s family begins: “We family and friends of Benjamin Rutabana write to you to request an inquiry into the disappearance of Mr. Rutabana as well as his prompt return to his family in Belgium.”
The letter, leaked on the Internet where it went viral, is specific that RNC knows where Rutabana is, because when he left his wife he was quite clear he was going to Uganda and nowhere else. Further down, as if to put more emphasis on the fact the family knows who has Rutabana, the letter continues:
“Between 28 September and 01 October 2019, several contacts were made between Mr. Rutabana’s family members and friends on one side, and members of RNC Executive Committee as well as other high officials on the other, including with the First Vice-Coordinator Kayumba Nyamwasa; Diplomacy Commissioner Charlotte Mukankusi; Research Commissioner Jean Paul Turayishimiye and RNC members Theogene Rutayomba and Rugema Kayumba.
“Both Rutayomba and Rugema went to such lengths as to promise to make arrangements for a direct phone contact between Mr. and Mrs. Rutabana by Thursday 03 October 2019. This is another strong indication the RNC, or at least some of its leaders know where Rutabana is being held,” stressed the letter, which Diane herself confirmed as authentic in subsequent interviews on BBC and Voice of America.
So, if according to Chimpreports Sultan Makenga already had lured Rutabana to Congo, why were senior RNC officials in Uganda assuring Mrs. Rutabana that they were going to arrange for her to talk to him?
“What kind of childish lie is this that Ugandan intelligence is concocting now?” an analyst that read the Chimp piece asked.
Chimpreports outlandish falsehoods are further laid bare by another letter – this one written by the grieving Diane to Ugandan security agencies. Dated 13 October 2019 it says in part: “As we all know, RNC has built good relations with Uganda authorities. This is to assert that Rutabana travelling to Uganda as RNC member, he was very sure of his safety and security and the rest of RNC staff know it as they too frequently travel to Uganda.”
This part of the letter, by a spouse of an RNC bigwig serves to expose the mendacity of the Museveni regime, which frequently claims out of one side of its mouth that it “doesn’t work with RNC” (which everyone and their dog knows it does) while its security agencies commits crimes in broad daylight on behalf of RNC.
Diane Rutabana in her letter to the Ugandan security organs also was certain she was addressing the very people, among them Brig. Abel Kandiho, that had abducted her man and delivered him to RNC agents in Uganda – specifically in Mbarara. She knew it, but she was desperate and “trying with tears” in the remote hope it could work!
It has since been established that Rutabana on 05 September 2019 landed at Entebbe on an Emirates flight on the final leg of his trip from Belgium, after a stopover in Dubai, he was received by Dr. Sam Ruvuma, a senior RNC official in Uganda. He was together with a couple of men that were identified as CMI.
Rutabana immediately was in contact with his wife back in Brussels, to inform her he had arrived safely. From that moment he was in constant touch, as the lady herself said on BBC and Voice of America.
One interesting fact is that the phone he was using was Ruvuma’s. It was the first one he contacted Diane with. And it would be the last one Rutabana would call his wife with. In the BBC Radio interview, Rutabana’s wife specifically mentioned Kayumba Nyamwasa’s brother in law, Frank Ntwari – the RNC “Commissioner of Youth” – as someone that had become very threatening to her husband.
What the Ugandan propagandists do not mention is that there was serious infighting between factions in RNC; and that there was bad blood between Nyamwasa and Rutabana.
“Ben told me he had serious problems with Nyamwasa’s in law, and that he was worried about him,” Diane told BBC. Furthermore, she revealed, her husband’s visit coincided with the presence of Frank Ntwari in Kampala. Asked why Rutabana despite his fears still went ahead and flew to Uganda, she said, “Ben was committed to his mission; but also he had been to Uganda before and thought he would be safe.”
Apparently he had no idea how intertwined Nyamwasa is with CMI. Numerous testimonies of survivors of CMI’s torture dungeons have told how many of their interrogators speak fluent Kinyarwanda.
“Sometimes it is difficult to know who runs CMI – whether it is Kandiho or Nyamwasa!”, they say.
South African Diaspora sources have said Nyamwasa “wanted Rutabana out of the way”, because the latter had become a persistent thorn in his side. The sources – many of them disaffected members of RNC who discuss its affairs in online chats – have long revealed fierce rows pitting “Nyamwasa’s clique”, made up of him, Ntwari, and one Sande Mugisha, against Rutabana.
Rutabana had been questioning why Nyamwasa was turning RNC leadership into “a family affair” and why he was “centering decisions too much around himself”. Rutabana also had persistently been questioning Nyamwasa’s use of RNC funds into his personal businesses, and those of his wife – respectively in Pretoria and Maputo.
“After things went on like this for some time, many began to think Rutabana was in danger”, commented the online sources. According to this analysis, Rutabana’s fate was long sealed by the time he arrived at Entebbe – into the waiting hands of Nyamwasa’s people and their CMI henchmen.
From family sources, once Rutabana had finished his chat with his wife, Ruvuma together with the CMI men then drove with the unsuspecting visitor to Mbarara. There, an investigation by this website revealed, they met with other RNC officials: Pastor Deo Nyirigira (now the Chairman of the RNC “Uganda Province”) and his son Felix Mwizerwa. Also on hand was Maj. Mushambo the Counterintelligence Officer, UPDF Second Division Counterintelligence Officer, Mbarara.
Rutabana supposedly was in the town to review progress on RNC recruitment. He wasn’t heard from again.
It has emerged that CMI and RNC worked with Nyamwasa to detain, or “eliminate” Rutabana because they suspected he was working on a plan to create a breakaway group opposed to RNC.
Chimpreports spuriously tries to buttress its article with claims of interviews with Lea Karegeya, another RNC bigwig. The alleged interview is an incongruity in that the woman was thousands of kilometers away in the US, when Rutabana went missing in Uganda.
What Chimpreports seems unaware of however is that Leah Karegeya already has distanced herself from RNC, and even quit her position as “an adviser”. Several other members of the group, amongst them Jean Paul Turayishimiye the former spokesman, have quit. All are doing so in protest at the disappearance of Rutabana.
But even as CMI’s propaganda tool works hard to smear Rwanda, Kandiho and others like him, such as ISO boss Kaka Bagyenda have to answer the Kampala High Court’s demand to produce Rutabana dead of alive, according to the Habeas Corpus order.
Justice Esta Nambayo is waiting.