Change is in the essence of nature. But most of us are afraid of it. We prefer the safety of our comfort zones, whatever they may look like. Anything contrary to our expectations is perceived with some disdain. For a trusted leader with a popular and legitimate mandate, a change of staff responsible for public services wouldn’t normally bring up hyped comments on the state or abilities of his leadership. But the recent reshuffle among the top Rwandan personnel in charge of national security tells more than it should in ordinary circumstances.
Dr Theogene Rudasingwa, in the following note, explains his interpretation of the event in what he called:
Making sense out of Kagame’s unintelligent reshuffles.
During the Cold War there was a proliferation of experts who made a living in making sense out of the Soviet complex power structures. Of particular significance was the May Day Parade, when signals could be picked about the rise and fall of personalities by just looking at who sat near the General Secretary of the Party, or with whom the Secretary exchanged smiles. Such is the state of Kagame’s secretive and deadly police state. We have to attempt to decode Kagame’s latest reshuffle in his spying, and increasingly criminal, network.
Just to remind the reader that Kagame runs both formal and informal networks that compete as well as conflict. One thing they have in common is that their loyalty is to one man, Kagame, and to an overall mission that he alone defines. In Kagame’s Rwanda, the mission is to do all things necessary to maintain his absolute power even if this means killing opponents, spying on each other, eavesdropping on RPF’s functionaries, senior members of the executive, the judiciary and the legislature. Principal among the formal security organs are the National Intelligence and Security Service ( NISS), till the reshuffle headed by Dr. Emmanuel Ndahiro, now fallen from grace, and the notorious Directorate of Military Intelligence ( DMI), previously headed by Col. Dan Munyuza, now to head the external wing of the NISS. Kagame personally staffs these organs with incompetent sycophants who he can use at will in his criminal schemes at home and abroad. The informal network, however, is even more deadlier. The likes of Maj. Gen. Jack Nziza who has a formal job as Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, has, at least until now, the ears of both the President and the First Lady, in running the bigger part of the informal network.
In looking at who comes in and who goes out in these organizations, one can tell the deepening crisis in Kagame’s camp:
1. General Karenzi Karake, now to head NISS. Smart and independent-minded, traits that have landed him into trouble with Kagame, a President who is yet to feel secure in his job even after so many years running the show. Kagame hates KK ( as commonly known) with passion. The general has been in and out of jail, once during RPF’s pre-1994 period, and recently when he was humiliated and put and house arrest. He is no stranger to the intel world. The posting is not necessarily one without risk, nor one that shows a a dramatic rise in Kagame’s trust in KK. The NISS position was previously held by Lt. General Gatsinzi, a marginalised Hutu, and Lt. General Kayumba Nyamwasa, a Tutsi, before he was banished to India as Ambassador.
2. Brigadier General Rutatina, now to head DMI. Rutatina, an incompetent sycophant par excellence, is being rewarded by Kagame because he has been outspoken in hurling insults to opposition leaders, especially to Gen Kayumba and his three other colleagues who co-authored Rwanda Briefing. With Dan Munyuza and Jack Nziza ( if he is not punished for the leaked youtube videos in the Kayumba assassination attempt) will lead the effort in entrenching Kagame’s repressive machinery at home and abroad. Kagame has a very low opinion of this officer, and were it not that an enemy of my enemy is my friend, Rutatina would be much further from the halls of power.
3. Col.Dan Munyuza, now to head NISS’s External Intelligence. Col. Munyuza’s fortunes have risen after a death threat and jail term from Kagame. Now Kagame’s Poisoner-In-Chief, Munyuza is a man with very limited understanding of the world in which he is supposed to exercise the craft of intelligence. His best bet is to please his master by hunting down Rwandan refugees and poisoning them when and where he can. Kagame could never have trusted Munyuza in the rank and file of an army that he takes to be his personal estate.
4. Col. Tom Byabagamba, now to head counter-terrorism unit at the Ministry of Defence and Rwanda Defence Forces! The most important development with Col. Byabagamba is that for the first time, he is no longer the key element in Kagame’s personal security, and the Presidential Guard, the previleged elite army within the Rwandan army whose first and last mission is to protect Kagame and his family. His fortunes, and those of his family, have been on the decline. David Himbara, once Kagame’s Principal Private Secretary, has taken refugee in South Africa. His wife, Mary Baine, lost her job at Kagame’s cash cow, Rwanda Revenue Authority. Her sister-in-law Rosemary Museminari, abruptly and disgracefully lost her job as Minister of Foreign Affairs. In the intrigue that reigns high at Kagame’s court, the young officer lost out in the contest that is increasingly shaped by other upcoming First Family favorites.
5. Dr. Emmanuel Ndahiro, previously the boss at NISS, is the greatest loser in Kagame’s latest moves on the Rwandan chessboard. Dr. Ndahiro, until he became the head of the NISS, had never held any formal office. He rose to influence by being Kagame’s personal doctor and errand boy. Nothing Dr. Ndahiro cherishes more that being known as the guy who has the ear of his chief. And boy, he has used it conveniently and relentlessly against friends and colleagues, as he supplied endless lists of enemies to a boss who demands them with the zeal of a paranoid schizophrenic. As Kagame’s errand boy, he is privy to many, many, illicit transactions ( eg. the executive jets deals), military purchases, and criminal operations abroad ( eg the Kayumba Nyamwasa’s attempted assassination). Dr. Ndahiro is tied to Kagame, ad infinitum. How the drama plays out can only be speculated.
Note that all of these gentlemen are all RPF and Tutsi. The Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. James Kabarebe is a Tutsi. So is the Chief of Defence Forces, Lt. Charles Kayonga; the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Caesar Kayizari; and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, the notorious Maj. Gen. Jack Nziza. The writing is on the wall! Where else on this planet earth is a ruler who is so insensitive to the nature of his country’s challenges to the point of being ridiculous? If one says the Hutu are particularly being marginalised, with grave implications, would this be treason, punishable with death, jail, or exile? If one says this small clique of Kagame’s Tutsi kitchen cabinet is not representative of all Tutsi, and therefore endangers their future, is that betrayal?
Kagame is losing. The national democratic struggle for freedom is gathering momentum after Brussels, London, Chicago and London again. Rwandans are slowly but surely overcoming fear that is the main weapon Kagame uses against them. The world that Kagame has taken for granted as allies is slowly waking up to the realities of Rwanda and the danger that he poses to the Rwandan people, Rwanda’s neighbors in the Great Lakes region, and the international community. Under pressure, he reshuffles, reshuffles and reshuffles. Unintelligent reshuffles will not save him. Nor will killing Rwandan people, taking away their resources for personal use, and absolute dictatorship intimidate them into silence and inaction. On the contrary, these reshuffles, and occasional cosmetic changes, are the sign that Rwandan people are winning in the struggle to co-create a free, united, peaceful, and democratic Rwanda in which the rule of law and shared prosperity are the rule, not the exception.