By Alex Muhumuza
When Uganda’s Special Forces Command (SFC) in February this year arranged the escape of Rwandan soldier Lt. Gerald Tindifa to Uganda, little did Kampala know that it had spent a lot of valuable resources on an individual many describe as: “worthless”, “a drunkard”, “indisciplined”, or, “money hungry but with no ability to manage money”. In other words, a source in the army that’s known Tindifa for years told this website, “Tindifa is the kind of misfit; the likes of Nyamwasa, Alphonse Furuma, Frank Tega, and a few others, that could never abide by the high moral and disciplinary codes required of officers and men of the RDF. Ultimately they escape.”
The 38-year old Tindifa – whose escape to Uganda through an illegal route “panya”, was coordinated by SFC together with Maj. Fred Mushambo, head of UPDF’s Second Division Counter-Intelligence, Mbarara – also is known as a “habitual fabricator of stories”.
One thing that has always amused, but also mystified Tindifa’s colleagues is that he even fabricates who his father was. “My father was (the late) Maj. Ngumbayingwe”, Tindifa has been known to claim, many times. Ngumbayingwe is a name that will live long in the annals of the RPA war against the Habyarimana regime as one of the outstandingly valiant, brave fighters that gave their lives for liberation. But Ngumbayingwe never was the father of anyone called Tindifa.
The latter’s real parents were one George Rubagumya, deceased, and Bagwaneza , who birth to Tindifa in Uganda’s Toro region, in the Chaka I Refugee Settlement. A psychologist would speculate that one part of the reason Tindifa falsely claims Ngumbayingwe as a father is maybe because his true father, Rubagumya, “was a deserter that briefly joined the struggle in 1991, then ran back to Toro,” according to a source we reached for this article. Those that know Tindifa think he is ashamed of his own parent, “who was the exact opposite of Ngumbayingwe.”
Tindifa, however, it has come to light, also has used the Ngumbayingwe name to deceive SFC – “as one of the tricks to further convince them that they are ‘recruiting someone significant,” laughed a Kigali security source that talked to us on request of confidentiality. “You know people in the top echelons of the Ugandan military remember Ngumbayingwe in NRA days as a ‘karampenge’ (slang for a tough, fearless fighter).
So when Tindifa told them Ngumbayingwe is his father, they probably thought, yes! This is the real deal! But they have only gotten a thoroughly useless fellow, our source laughed harder as he talked.
Very few dispute what a mess Tindifa has made of his life, having initially been given good opportunities in the Rwandan army to make something of himself. After he graduated from the Kigali Institute of Technology in IT, he was accepted in the Rwanda Defense Force, and was part of the cadet course intake of 2009-10.
But it wasn’t long in his army career that Lt. Tindifa fell into major trouble. In February 2016 he was arrested for embezzlement by the military and prosecuted after it came to light that he was selling motor vehicle fuel meant for use in official duties. Court passed a suspended five-month jail sentence. “Tindifa is always in money troubles, but he also is a very greedy fellow for money, which suggests he lives far beyond his means, which further fuels his crookedness,” says another former colleague.
Just how deep in trouble Tindifa’s crookedness had landed him came to light when in March 2016 a lady called Juliette Uwamahoro filed against him a breach of trust case after a check for Frw 3.9 million he had given her bounced. Tindifa narrowly escaped another stint in jail after he pleaded with Uwamahoro “to wait a bit”, giving her Frw 600,000 and promising to give her the rest, Frw 3.3 million, “very soon.”
Following that incident, Tindifa wrote the lady an agreement – in June the same year – that he would clear the debt “in one month.” By then he was so desperate that in the same agreement, he committed to sell his house in Gatsata (value Frw 25 million) and pay Uwamahoro her money. The tough lady insisted on taking the house’s ownership title, “until my money is paid!”
Sources say these were the problems that – even as Tindifa most probably was deceiving SFC that he was discontented in RDF – were the real reason for his decision to escape. “This was just an embezzler and deadbeat that tricked Museveni’s SFC, and now they are probably congratulating themselves that they have ‘a high value Rwandan military man’. Yet all they are doing is squander Ugandan taxpayer’s money in facilitating his (and his wife’s) escape, and housing them.” Tindifa’s wife Sylvia Murebwayire has joined him in Uganda.
After Tindifa left Rwanda, it has been learnt, Maj. Mushambo received him in Mbarara. Mushambo has been instrumental in executing the Ugandan regime’s plots to destabilize Rwanda, mainly through his roles as a liaison for the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, CMI, and as a facilitator of RNC activities in Western Uganda. Mushambo drove Tindifa to Kampala, where the latter was hosted in an intelligence safe house.
Such was the level of self-deception the Ugandans have about the supposed importance of Tindifa that shortly afterwards he was taken to meet with Museveni himself.
“But what thing of importance can Tindifa, who only was in Army Shop, tell Museveni and SFC, except the prices of food and other items in the armed forces shop?” our source chuckled again.
Observers note that “it won’t take long for Museveni and his security apparatus to realize they are as wrong about Tindifa as they were about failures like Nyamwasa whose RNC has split in warring factions.” These pit Nyamwasa on the one hand against Jean Paul Turayishimye and Deo Nyirigira – who have formed something called RAC – on the other.