By Theogene Rudasingwa
General Paul Kagame's recent "arrests" of his notorious generals and colonels ( Ibingira, Rutatina, Munyuza, et al) left Rwandans and the international community speculating as to what the errant General Kagame is up. You might recall that last year we tried to make sense of his unintelligent reshuffle in which Karenzi, Rutatina and Munyuza, officers that he distrusts, hates and despises, were to head key security organisations and departments ( National Security Agency, Directorate of Military Intellegence, and External Intelligence). We have been proved right. General Kagame's moves, attitude, behavior and actions are more acts of desperation than coherent strategy. He may boast that he will rise and never fall, but he is a general without real generals.
Ten Things that Can Happen to General Paul Kagame's Generals:
1. Inconsequential Promotions and Deployments:
The greatest danger signal to a general in Rwanda is when he is asked to become a Minister of Defence or head the National Security Service ( NSS). Lt. Generals Kayumba Nyamwasa and Marcel Gatsinzi have been there. Currently James Kabarebe occupies the glamourous post of Minister of Defence, essentially retired out of active military service. General Kagame is his own Defence Minister and Chief Intelligence Officer. He would never sub-contract this functions to anybody.
2. Deport to a Diplomatic Mission:
Lt. General Kayumba Nyamwasa was banished to India as Ambassador at a time when Kagame was looking for every avenue to marginalise or kill him.
3. "Agatebe" (reduced to being redundant):
Generals will be humiliated with trumpted up charges ( General Muhire, corruption; General Karenzi, sexual immorality, Rwigamba, corruption etc). Without support from the state, the officers are impoverished and left to beg for mercy from General Kagame.
General Kagame has criminalized his Generals. From the killing of President Habyarimana, President Ntaryamira, President Laurent Kabila, the crimes of Kibeho and Democratic Republic of Congo, the assassinations of his comrades in the RPA, Seth Sendashonga, Lizinde, Kayumba assassination attampt, and many others, General Kagame has corrupted otherwise good officers to become criminals. Now they are trapped with him as co-criminals.
5. Send to DRC on commercial errands:
With an appetite for DRC's mineral wealth, General Kagame has sent his Generals to loot for him. When their actions become public knowledge, he disowns and "arrests" them. Trader-in-Chief becomes law and discipline enforcer, prosecutor and Judge.
General Kagame uses Generals to spy on each other, as they compete for his ear, attention and favors. He keeps dossiers on them and at the opportune moment blackmails them into silence and forced loyalty to him.
Like in the Stalinist era, Generals who have fallen from grace are asked by Kagame's coterie of civilian and military ( RPF and RDF) officers to apologize for sins they did not commit and abandon "bad influences." Inyumba, Tito Rutaremara, James kabarebe, Kayonga, et al have tried this on Nyamwasa, Karegeya, and many others.
8. Start a war:
General Kagame has always been the General who leads from the safety of the rear. He does not care who goes to war, and whether they survive or not. He has made his Generals behave like automatons who must fight his futile wars in Congo, wars without purpose, wars of plunder, and very costly wars in human terms. While Kagame's generals are 99.99% Tutsi, the expendable men are mostly Hutu.
General Kagame takes Rwanda Defence Forces as his personal army. Frequently, after beating officers, he chases them out of "his army".
10. Kill them:
Ultimately, if a General cannot bend to Kagame's way, he must be killed. The cases of Nyamwasa and Karegeya illustrate this point. Kagame uses meetings with officers to hammer this point to his Generals and other officers.
Napoleon once said that an army moves on its stomach. He probably over-emphasised the stomach part and forgot that an army, and its generals as its leaders, must have a national purpose and a conscience that defends a people, not the commercial and personal interests of a dictator. General Kagame has destroyed Rwanda's Generals. He has become a General without Generals. And the generals have become an endangered species. Only themselves and the Rwandan citizens will save them from extinction.