Dr Emmanuel Gasakure, was born in Butare and was a refugee in Burundi between 1973 and 1987. He studied medicine in Bujumbura and specialized in cardiology in France where he arrived in 1987 and stayed until 1994. He became the personal physician of Paul Kagame in 2001 and remained in this position until February 20, 2015. He worked day and night for 14 years without taking a day off. The hours were long, the travel schedule grueling, the pay low, the recognition non-existent. Dr Gasakure was not even allowed to attend the wedding of his second daughter.
Before coming to Rwanda, he was the chief cardiologist in the University of Nancy in France, a prestigious position rarely awarded to non-French nationals. He was an academic and was part of a European research team. He also owned a private health clinic in France, which made him quite wealthy. He joined the RPF in 1990, then returned to Rwanda in 1994, having lost all his brothers during the genocide.
He decided to leave his position in France and come back to Rwanda in the Summer of 1994. He first rebuilt the Butare Hospital, then rapidly re-opened the school of medicine. He then spent the next seven years rebuilding Rwanda’s health system from scratch, became the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and created the new schools of nursing and the school of public health. He revamped the CHK, created the first Mutuelles, the service of emergency medicine, the telemedicine program, the “Rwanda Heart foundation”. A professor at NUR, he trained all health professionals in cardiology in Rwanda for 20 years. He was also involved in many other activities for the social good. He was the President of the Scouts of Rwanda, the chairman of the Board of the Genocide Survivors’ Fund and the president of the Sports Club of Kigali. His intelligence and energy were exceptional. He was a good man, kind to all and devoted to Rwanda and to his family.
For 11 years he was the trusted senior health advisor and personal doctor of Paul Kagame. He was a dutiful man and was totally loyal to the boss, insisting on medical ethics and not getting involved in politics. He refused to become the Minister of Health. Progressively however, he became the last person of the presidential entourage to have a direct relationship of trust with Paul Kagame without any allegiance to Kagame’s wife Jeannette. He had known Jeannette K. in Bujumbura, before her marriage. Overtime, he saw her progressively seizing full power, placing her own devoted people in all key positions around her husband, .
As of 2012, the relationship between Jeannette K. and Dr. Gasakure deteriorated, mainly because he could not accept the rising corruption of JK. He was particularly aware of the corruption in the health sector under the new leadership of Mrs Kagame’s best friend and accomplice, Dr Agnes Binagwaho. Binagwaho was Kagame’s children doctor and J.K placed her as Minister of Health in 2011. Gasakure had little respect for Binagwaho, whom he knew as brawly ambitious, cruel and dangerous, and with poor medical skills. He had to correct her basic medical mistakes with Kagame’s children many times.
He was increasingly concerned about Binagwaho’s rapidly destroying what he and his friends had been building in the health sector between 1994 and 2011. She was destroying his efforts at building medical and nursing schools. In order to advance her international career, she was catering to the Clinton Foundation and replacing Rwandan health workers by young inexperienced Americans. These came to Rwanda as “humanitarian tourists” to get experience on Rwandan patients.
Gasakure became also disenchanted with the corruption of the regime, starting with the increasingly voracious appetite for money of JK, and the expansion of Kagame’s shady personal business deals at home and abroad. He had seen the corruption settle and accelerate since 2010 . He was particularly aware of corruption using money from AIDS, the Global Fund and Clinton Foundation. Imbuto, the foundation of the first lady is siphoning money with the help of Binagwaho. Binagwaho herself is known by all for imposing all researchers working on Rwanda’s health to include her name in their publications, building a fake academic reputation. She is selling her influence and position for personal gains for example giving exclusive access to Rwandan data to Harvard in exchange for an academic position there and a protective cover of international recognition. In exchange, the Clinton Foundation is taking international credit for the work and success of Rwanda and Gasakure’s and other Rwandans’ achievements.
Binagwaho and Gasakure hated each other. Gasakure saw her as taking international credit for the work of her predecessors. Yet she was destroying everything they had worked so hard at building at home, including mutuelles. He confronted her directly on her incompetence and corruption and was increasingly vocal on the corruption of the health sector, particularly around Global Fund and Clinton Foundation money but also medicines, payment of salaries and grabbing the funds of the mutuelles.
His integrity and sincerity became a threat to sweet money deals and power. Starting in 2011, JK and Binagwaho progressively built a conspiracy against the doctor, together with JK’s corruption accomplice Musoni James. They accused the doctor of breaching medical confidentiality and revealing state secrets. A plot was set in 2012 in Uganda to accuse the doctor. Accusations of alcoholism and sloppiness (losing documents and an Ipad) started to be whispered into PK’s ears. JK also questioned his loyalty. When PK asked the views of his advisors on the issue of a third mandate, Gasakure suggested that PK keeps his word and respects the constitution. This was not appreciated. At two occasions the doctor and the first lady had a fall-out and the doctor thought he was fired. But twice, PK did not allow him to leave his service and called back after a few days.
Increasingly exhausted, the doctor fell seriously ill in June 2014. His daughters’ restlessness and demand for money triggered the disease. He lost a lot of weight, was coughing constantly and was spitting blood. He had insomnias and was no longer exercising. He wondered whether he had been poisoned. Medical examinations and tests in Kigali were not showing anything wrong. He became sicker and sicker and could barely stand. During duty travel, he was constantly lying in his room or in the car. But the President would not give him a day off to rest or seek medical treatment. On October 26, in London, PK had an anger burst because Gasakure was too slow in giving an answer to a question and ordered him to return to Kigali and “wait for him there”. In Kigali, he was placed under house arrest on October 28 and interrogated daily by the police. During the interrogations, he was asked to produce some specific medical documents related to PK’s health. He could no longer find these documents. He realized that they had been stolen in the locked closet of his bedroom of his home in Kigali and in a pouch that was accessible only to four people of the closest entourage. The police requested specific documents at specific dates. He realized his interrogators had the documents and he had been trapped. The Two Ladies had seized the opportunity of his disease to tighten the plot and resurrect the accusations of breach of medical confidentiality.
He then wrote a letter to PK apologizing for “past mistakes” and requesting a medical leave. PK still supported him despite the accusations fomented by JK : the medical leave was finally granted after 5 months of agony.
Gasakure arrived in Belgium on November 20 and stayed there until December 27, except for one week where he went to his old hospital in Nancy, France. There, the doctors diagnosed extreme exhaustion and nervous break-down, a “burn- out”. Doctors ordered sleep therapy and sensorial isolation, with no access to phone or internet for a few days. The treatment worked well. After five days, the symptoms disappeared and he rapidly got better. Doctors then warned him about the very high risk of relapse and prescribed a medical treatment and a total rest for six months, preferably not in Rwanda.
Yet, the Presidency refused to grant him the rest and accused him of not having reported for duty, during the time he was in sleep therapy. Ines Mpambara, the chief of staff at the Presidency was calling him non-stop. The Presidency was putting high pressure through the Embassy in Brussels, ordering him to go back to Kigali, despite medical advice to the contrary.
Concerned by his daughters and in financial distress, he returns to Kigali on 27 December, 2014, against the advice of his doctors. He has been two weeks under medical treatment, does not drink any alcohol and is back to sleeping regularly. He is officially the president’s doctor, still, and not given permission to take another job. He sends a second letter to PK to request an assistant. He also ask to no longer travel because of medical reasons. He receives no answer. He asks for an appointment with PK, which keeps being postponed. He has some violent exchange with Mpambara and Binagwaho, who is taking revenge by mistreating Gasakure’s son, also a doctor. Towards the end of January 2015, he has to face again severe problems at home, his daughter being beaten by her husband. He then falls into a relapse of the burn-out. The insomnia comes back. On February 2, he cannot sleep because the bar next door is very noisy. He goes there to ask them to stop the noise and a fight erupts. He is severely beaten by a crowd. Police comes. The bar owner accuses him of having destroyed his sound material in the bar. He contacts a lawyer and prepares his defense.
He is then secretly arrested on February 4th, sent to jail. “Witnesses”, mostly “errand boys” of JK come “spontaneously” to the police to accuse the doctor. They bring back the accusations of leaking medical secrets. They say Gasakure spoke in public of the health of the President and criticized the President. One reliable source mentions that Gasakure probably said “the President has changed and his wife is unbearable, they are ungrateful ”. He is tortured and interrogated in jail for 3 weeks. DMI accuses him of everything they can think of: being an alcoholic, disclosing the location of PK, breaching medical confidentiality, not having reported for duty while in sleep therapy, criticizing PK and JK, having talked about political parties, being a CIA, MI15, and Mossad agent and passing sensitive medical and security information, plotting to kill the President, having Mzungu friends in Belgium, France and the US, being a friend of General Patrick Karegeya, Colonel Tom Byabagamba, Innocent Nyaruhirira and Charles Murigande, having contacted the RNC etc . The Ladies, JK, Binagwaho and Mpambara had probably realized that the accusation of breach of medical confidentiality would not be sufficient to get PK to order the doctor to be killed. So they threw a wide net to catch him, anything to get the increasingly paranoid and gullible PK to give the killing order.
Dr Gasakure keeps denying the accusations. “who are you to question my loyalty? What do you know about medical information?” He requests a lawyer, he asks his family to be informed of his where-about. Towards the end he refuses to answer questions anymore: “that’s it. I am fed up. I will not answer your questions anymore”. On February 20, 2015 an official note is sent to governments’ officials: the doctor is suspended for three months without pay for “misconduct”. On February 25, he dies in prison, executed by Jack Nziza and Guido Rutagengwa, shot at gunpoint. The DMI had concluded he did nothing wrong, but “he could be a risk”.
All the boyscouts of Rwanda, health professionals, genocide survivors and the international community attended his funeral. More than 2000 people came. Nobody from the Government was present. PK did not send any representative. Everybody understood then that Gasakure was the next innocent victim. PK had killed him.
For 14 years Gasakure took care of PK and his family, day and night. When he fell ill, exhausted and in a burn-out, his enemies realized they had a chance to get the conspiracy to finally work. They killed him because he was weak and because they could. They killed him because he was too vocal in opposing the vast corruption of JK and her friends. They killed him because in a meeting he told PK he should keep his word to respect the constitution and not seek a third mandate. They could because Gasakure’s was weakened by the terrible family problems.
PK used Dr Gasakure for 14 years, calling him in the middle of the night almost daily. He treated this professor of cardiology like a bus boy. He denied him the right to move to another job, where he could have used his skills for the good of all Rwandans and train several new generations of Rwandan doctors. When Gasakure was sick and no longer useful to him, PK did not even allow him to take a few days to sleep. PK threw him away like a dirty towel.
He was among the best and the brightest sons of Rwanda. PK killed him like a sick dog . He knew too much.