By Robert Rutoma
The name “Kayumba Nyamwasa” is seared in the Rwandan public’s imagination as synonymous with treason, and other high crimes against one’s country. This is what most know. But who exactly is Nyamwasa, this stooge of the Ugandan ruler who was ready to sell-out Rwanda to turn it into a puppet regime of Kampala, as long as Nyamwasa himself was at the head of the puppet regime?
“Kayumba’s fundamental problem has always been vanity, nepotism, and greed. He is inherently selfish, greedy, arrogant and self-conceited,” a retired RDF senior officer who lived with the fugitive told this website.
“Kayumba has this weird obsession to dominate. He has an insatiable appetite to own everything around him. The man is pathologically obsessed with dominance and material possessions. He has the false feeling that he is smarter than everyone else,” the officer said.
Singling out one example, the officer went on: “until President Kagame intervened, Nyamwasa very nearly caused a land settlement crisis in Umutara (now Eastern Province) where he grabbed huge swathes of land using his high position in the military to intimidate returnees that had been settled there. Many newly re-settled Rwandans that had been refugees were left landless, with some even contemplating to return to exile!”
Nyamwasa would use his escorts to intimidate and send people off their farms before annexing one piece of land after the other, adding to his already expansive ranches.
This callous disregard for the poor or lowly; this insatiable greed that he was ready to feed with abuse of power and other illegal, underhanded methods begin to give one an inkling of the character of this man, who even as we write now has been revealing more facets to his character. Nyamwasa and his friend, the head of Uganda’s Military Intelligence, CMI, Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho, have been implicated by an American rights group as being behind the disappearance of Ben Rutabana, a former high-ranking colleague of Nyamwasa’s.
Of course even before the report of the Americans, Rutabana’s family had provided evidence providing that the culprits were Nyamwasa and Kandiho.
So what was Rutabana’s crime in the eyes of Nyamwasa (that necessitated abducting and “disappearing” the former RNC Commissioner for Capacity Building)? Among other things Rutabana had been challenging Nyamwasa for his corruption in using RNC member funds “in ways unaccountable to anyone”, as well as nepotism, and “dictatorial tendencies”.
A resident of Umutara circa 1996 would say, “exactly! Even if it is a rogue like Rutabana making the accusations, but he is so right!”
“Thieving and greed are the only explanation as to how Nyamwasa, when still army commander in Rwanda, could purchase in South Africa a mansion worth a million US dollars,” says another officer that knew the man very well.
When investigations began closing in on Nyamwasa’s corrupt ways, and his subversive activities against the Rwandan state he escaped using his connections in Ugandan high circles, later re-settling in South Africa. “This man that claims to love Rwanda then commenced terrorist activities against Banyarwanda.” Anyone that doubted this were shocked by the grenade attacks between 2010 and 14 that claimed a total of 17 civilian lives, and 400 other people sustaining injuries.
“It was a classical case of the ends justifying whatever means! If maiming and killing innocent civilians was what it took to take power, so be it, that’s Nyamwasa!” one of our sources said.
Such activities of course were bound to land him in even more trouble with the law back home in Rwanda. On 14, January 2011 the Rwanda Military Court, following a trial in absentia, sentenced Nyamwasa to 24 years in prison. The six counts leading to the sentence included treason, desertion, threatening state security, undermining public order, and promoting ethnic division. On top of the sentence, Kayumba was also demoted from the rank of general to private. According to Rwandan prosecution, Kayumba has an outstanding warrant of arrest in Rwandan courts. He is wanted by Rwandan justice to answer charges related to lack of accountability and terrorism. He is implicated in the grenade attacks that killed many, and injured hundreds.
But then in his time in exile, as head of RNC, a group sworn to violently overthrow the legitimate government of Rwanda, Nyamwasa’s leadership of RNC has been deemed “a disaster”. His greed started to cause cracks in RNC not long after it came into being in 2010, according to those in the know.
The acrimonious quitting of people like Jean Paul Turayishimye, his former right hand man, the entire Rutabana family, the wife of Patrick Karegeya, and several members of RNC in North America has brought the terrorist organisation to its knees. In Uganda “Pastor Deo Nyirigira, described as a stalwart member of RNC is actively working to discredit Nyamwasa and take supporters away from him.
Nyirigira has joined the breakaway faction – recently formed in Canada and headed by Turayishimye – and each new day brings such stories of discord.
Many just thank goodness there are zero chances of someone like Nyamwasa ever ruling over them.