By Robert Rutoma
When in December 2017 an infamous incident involving 46 recruits of the RNC terrorist group erupted at Kikagati on the border between Uganda and Tanzania, few people had ever heard the name Sam Ruvuma. Before long, however, that name was being whispered as one of the masterminds of an RNC recruitment operation in Uganda – backed and facilitated by Ugandan Military Intelligence, CMI.
The 46 RNC recruits – lured by RNC agents in conjunction with CMI, which also was providing them transportation and fake travel documents – were intercepted by immigration officers at Kikagati as they were about to transit through Tanzania and Burundi, enroute to their final destination in DRC, in RNC training camps in Minembwe. Their cover story was that “they were going to Burundi for a bible fellowship”.
It did not take long before Uganda Police – whose border officers had fought tooth and nail to arrest the 46 when it was discovered they were travelling with fake documents, only for disguised CMI officials to try to intervene to help the RNC recruits proceed – filed charges of terrorism against them.
The acts of the Ugandan regime have, since the 1990s, revealed a deep vendetta against Rwanda. That, analysts have long pointed out, is because Kigali has never accepted to cede an inch of its sovereignty to take orders from Kampala. Since then Kampala adopted Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC as the main proxy group in Kampala’s plots to destabilize Rwandan security.
Sam Ruvuma, a cousin of Museveni – and brother to Col. Gideon Katinda of the UPDF – has been a willing, zealous, part of that effort.
He has been a mastermind of the recruitment drive, and had personally escorted the group to make sure they crossed the border without detection.
Too bad for him, however, as the plan to smuggle the 46 into Tanzania (and onto their way to Burundi then DRC) unraveled, Ruvuma who was at the Kikagati Border Post watching. He quickly fled the scene, alongside his accomplice Felix Mwizerwa, son of “Pastor Deo Nyirigira another RNC big fish in Mbarara. Their terrorist plan was completely busted.
Ruvuma’s loyalty to Nyamwasa goes way back when the latter still was a colonel in the Rwandan military in the 1990s. By then Nyamwasa already was clandestinely working for Museveni, as a fifth columnist “very practiced in the arts of deception,” says a now retired officer of the RDF.
Virunga Post understands that Ruvuma’s brother, Col. Katinda currently of the UPDF Military Court, is a longtime friend to Kayumba Nyamwasa – with the men having known each other since their school days in Uganda. “It was through this friendship that Nyamwasa, a senior member of the Rwandan military, trusted by peers to do the right thing, instead used his power to help Ruvuma fraudulently acquire a government scholarship, to study medicine at the Rwanda National University, Butare. That was in 1995.
“It wasn’t the last incident of Nyamwasa abusing his trust to do things for personal gain, or for the gain of his Ugandan friends,” remarked the retired RDF officer.
Upon graduation, and by then perceived as a Rwandan, thanks to Kayumba Nyamwasa’s machinations, the newly graduated Dr. Sam Ruvuma was able to serve in the Rwandan civil service, and quickly rose to be the Director of Gisenyi Hospital. Yet even then Ruvuma’s true character – same as the character of Nyamwasa, or that of the latter’s clandestine masters in Uganda – quickly showed itself. After barely one year with Ruvuma at the helm of Gisenyi Hospital management, an internal audit unearthed gross embezzlement of the hospital’s funds.
Realizing that was about to be asked hard questions, Ruvuma (who by then staff had nicknamed Ruvumwa, the cursed one) fled to Uganda. “A complete audit would certainly have led to his arrest and prosecution for corruption,” said a former colleague of his that requested anonymity. Even then, in Ruvuma’s absence, a financial audit was conducted. It confirmed Ruvuma had grossly embezzled funds, but, the man having run away, another person paid the price. The director of finance at Gisenyi Hospital was arrested.
Wanted by the courts in Rwanda, Sam Ruvuma decided to convert his fear of Rwandan justice into anger and hostility. “That is when he naturally joined Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC in the mission to perpetrate anti-Rwanda terror. He started spending much of his time at Pastor Nyirigira’s AGAPE church in Mbarara, described as the epicenter of the RNC mobilization and recruitment operations.
Ruvuma has been a constant in RNC activities since then, most remarkably participating in the abduction and disappearance of Benjamin Rutabana – the RNC “commissioner of capacity building” that fell out with Nyamwasa.
“This Ruvuma is the man whose phone Rutabana – upon landing at Entebbe from Brussels via Dubai on 5 September last year – used to call his wife to tell her he was safely in Uganda,” a source said. “Among the people that have to tell the world where Rutabana is, Ruvuma too is answerable.”
Ruvuma will be equally answerable for lots of other crimes that RNC has perpetrated. It’s just a matter of time.