By Mwene Kalinda
The dismissal of Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba as Rwanda’s internal security minister has pushed Museveni’s army of anti-Rwanda propagandists over the edge. It is clear to see with their all-out frenzy of unhinged commentary.
ChimpReports (aka Cheap Reports), nominally published by Kisoro’s Giles Muhame – though under the control of Uganda’s military intelligence (sic), CMI – set the ball rolling on 27 April. They were spinning the dismissal as if it was some earth-shaking event, though it is an outcome of normal accountability that Rwandans demand and have come to expect as part of our country’s governance standards.
“Nyamvumba’s sacking will send shockwaves in the country’s security services,” Chimp blared. Not to be outdone, on 10 May, SpyReport UG, run by Bob Atwine under the supervision of former UPDF spokesman Col Paddy Ankunda, now in charge of CMI’s strategic communications (i.e. propaganda), screeched, “GUNS, AMMUNITION, OFFICERS & MEN DISAPPEAR FROM RWANDA’S GARRISON”. This fake claim was echoed by SpyReport UG’s stablemate in CMI’s large army of fake Rwanda reporting, The Great Lakes Post (aka GLPost), which gave the fantasy report extensive play.
SpyReport soon followed that up with a similarly imagined event, breathlessly shrieking on 14 May, “BREAKING: PAUL KAGAME LOCKS UP FIVE GENERALS”, falsely asserting that Generals Kabarebe, Nyamvumba, Kayonga, Karake and Murasira were all under lock. This must have come as a total surprise to those generals who were going about their official duties as usual. It must also have amazed colleagues and other people with whom they were interacting at that particular time. Everyone must have wondered what reality-altering substance Museveni was feeding his propagandists.
Museveni’s propagandists, are however, never deterred by such hilariously farfetched, easily debunked claims even when they know every objective reader, including many in Uganda, must be laughing at their crude concoctions. Credibility is less important to them than the paycheck they continue to receive from Museveni via CMI.
Unsurprisingly therefore, SpyReports UG is at it once more, screaming in a 22 May very shoddily written report fashioned from whole cloth, “PAUL KAGAME RUNNING HIS USUAL PROGRAM TO MURDER AN OFFICER OF RDF: GEN. PATRICK NYAMVUMBA”. Interestingly, this SpyReports story tells us, among many other equally astonishing things, that Patrick Nyamvumba is “a respected General of the UPDF” (I am sure even he will be left scratching his head in wonder at how he became one)!
But you soon find “Spy” is just hitting its stride of hilarity. It quickly shifts into crude revisionism to re-write the context and circumstances of a moment of Uganda-Rwanda history that continues to deeply rankle Museveni and his most senior military officers and political associates: the UPDF’s 1999-2000 complete mauling by the RPA in Kisangani. It was the event that permanently put paid to Uganda’s pretences as a regional hegemon.
At the time, the then Lt. Col. Patrick Nyamvumba was the commander of RPA forces in Kisangani while the then Col. James Kabarebe was RPA chief of staff and overall commander of Rwandan forces in DRC. About that time Museveni and his top officers accused the two Rwandan commanders – falsely as would eventually be established by the subsequent joint inquiry headed by then Rwandan chief of staff Brig. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa and UPDF commander Maj. Gen. Jeje Odongo – of having violated the ceasefire signed between then Rwandan Vice President and Minister of Defence Paul Kagame, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. The joint Odongo-Nyamwasa inquiry would instead designate the UPDF commanders in Kisangani as the culprits that initiated hostilities and fired the first shots.
Be that as it may, Uganda continued to blame Patrick Nyamvumba and James Kabarebe for the outbreak of fighting, pushing for them to be withdrawn from the theatre in exchange for their own withdrawal of Kazini, Mayombo, Rogers Munyantwalu, and Gervus Mugyenyi. In other words, Museveni and his military and political associates largely blamed Nyamvumba for their heavy defeat and were anxious for him to be withdrawn from the theatre of operations.
Now in a hilarious volte-face, Museveni’s SpyReport has this to say about Gen Nyamvumba: “… In 1998, Nyamvumba, then a Colonel, was the commander of the Rwanda military in Kisangani and deputised by Gen. Emmanual Ruvusha was a Major (sic). These men received instructions from James Kabarebe, who was the overall commander of the Rwandan army in DRC, to attack and force UPDF out of Kisangani. Nyamvumba listened to James Kabarebe and responded that conditions on the ground didn’t call of (sic) hostilities against UPDF and even there was any need (sic), it was not tenable to put his officers and men in a fighting mood against the UPDF.
After a short interval, Nyamvumba received a call from Paul Kagame him (sic) who ordered Nyamvumba to fight. ‘Shoot down those foolish but arrogant Ugandans!’ Kagame ordered Nyamvumba.”
How times change, and Museveni’s propaganda with it. Needless to say, this is not how Museveni and his military recounted the situation at the time of the August 1999 clashes. The joint commission of inquiry headed by UPDF Commander Maj. Gen. Jeje Odongo on the Ugandan side, and Brig. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa (RPA Chief of Staff and a devoted Museveni mole in Rwanda’s military) on the Rwandan side, highlighted that prior to the Kisangani clashes, the city was already tense. This was “due to longstanding disagreements between RPA Commander Nyanvumba (sic) and Brigadier Kazini of the UPDF.”
In the aftermath of those clashes and the heavy UPDF defeat in which hundreds of UPDF officers and men were killed and even more injured, Ugandan top brass, including people like Kahinda Otafiire, were accusing Nyamvumba and his subordinate officers in Kisangani of violating a ceasefire jointly ordered by Kagame and Museveni. Now, in the interest of a new propagandist need, the same people are farcically trying to re-write their previous position to give us a mirror opposite of what it then was. All in the interest of trying to convince people that Gen Nyamvumba’s dismissal is tied to his imaginary historical pro-Uganda views! A more hilariously contortionist campaign would be hard to imagine.
Yes, those armed clashes in Kisangani two decades ago are relevant to today’s Uganda-Rwanda cold war, and are an important pointer in explaining Museveni’s Rwanda-destabilisation project. But not in the way Museveni and his propagandists would make you believe. In addition to Museveni’s long-time dream of somehow sowing divisions among Rwandans, especially Rwanda’s officer cadres and security forces, SpyReports soon lets us understand the motive for this piece. It is the still festering wounds of Museveni’s 1999-2000 misadventures in Kisangani where the UPDF was badly mauled by an outnumbered and outgunned RPA (now RDF)!
SpyReports’ piece is an awe-inspiring case study of historical revisionism that left this writer, and no doubt all those conversant with the actual history of the Uganda-Rwanda clashes in the Congolese city, rolling on the floor in laughter!
Since the Kisangani battles that left Ugandan forces badly beaten, with hundreds dead and even more wounded; and with his senior commanders captured and repatriated back home via Kigali, Museveni has nursed an extremely vindictive vendetta against Rwanda. This has involved the direct support of terrorist groups fighting the Rwanda government, and the establishment and activation of a huge anti-Rwanda propaganda campaign spanning all categories of old and new media.
In a meeting with President Mkapa as he tried to reconcile the two countries, President Museveni told President
Kagame in Kinyarwanda: Ntiturakaraba”. When Mkapa asked
Museveni what he meant, he replied that Kagame knew what
he had told him.
“Gukaraba inzigo” is an old Rwandan custom whereby if a family member killed a member of another family, the two families would sit together, the family whose member had killed would select one of their own to be handed to the bereaved family to exact revenge. That would be so as to end the bad blood between the two families, and bury the hatchet of revenge and counter-revenge.
Museveni was telling Kagame that there could never be any reconciliation till he had had revenge for the loss of his soldiers’ lives in Kisangani. Kagame, for his part, made it clear there was no possibility of such Rwandan sacrificial lambs.
In this regard, it is important to underline, once again, that the Jeje Odongo-Kayumba Nyamwasa joint inquiry cleared the RPA of any blame in the clashes, noting that the RPA approach of creating a joint RPA/UPDF command to avoid tensions among forces deployed in close proximity had been rejected by the UPDF. The RPA’s proposal to organise the RDC rebels into a unified fighting group had been similarly rejected by the UPDF which started creating other rebel factions instead.
The 5-7 August 1999 fighting was a UPDF attempt to give an African verification team – regarding the implementation of the Lusaka accords – the false impression that Uganda’s protege, Prof. Wamba dia Wamba controlled key parts of Kisangani. The UPDF had started reinforcing at the end of July, intending to completely take over Kisangani and expel the RPA from the city.
It was with this goal in mind that on 7 August UPDF deployed heavily in Kisangani, digging trenches and foxholes in preparation for the fight ahead. By 12 August, forces from the UPDF’s 3rd, 5th, 9th and 65th Battalions had already been brought into the town to reinforce the two UPDF battalions already there with 5 tanks.
By contrast the RPA had only 2 battalions – the 61st and 75th – deployed in Kisangani when the fighting erupted, as those RPA forces endeavoured to break the encirclement the UPDF forces had put them in.
Museveni has continuously initiated further hostilities since the first Kisangani clashes, which he inevitably loses. A wise man would by now understand to stop behaving as if he was insane as defined by Albert Einstein: Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a fifferent outcome.
It is not historical revisionism about Kisangani and the role of different commanders in those clashes that will help Museveni achieve his longstanding fantasy of assuaging his enzigo.