During the period around October 1, 2019, Rwandan and regional online media interviewed a former Rwandan officer in exile.
Major Michael Mupende claimed that he witnessed directly the assassination of General Fred Rwigema the second day of the war that took current President Paul Kagame to power in 1994.
Recently, the former officer who was respectively a member of the Ugandan National Resistance Army and the Rwandan Patriotic Army and fled his country in the early 2000s, was named in different public interventions by Rwandan officials and became quickly a subject of speculations on social media.
Some social media users and bloggers have gone so far as to claim that the Rwandan authorities were busy in deliberate attempts of character assassination in order to silence the former officer.
Our reporter Marc Matabaro interviewed Major Micheal Mupende at his home in United States.
What really happened in the morning of October 2, 1990?
On 10/02/1990, I was commanding a company under RPA’s 4th BN and deployed from the tarmac to the swamp, left of marimba Hill where Gen. Fred Gisa Rwigyema was later killed. While our RPA battalions were deployed in a defensive area from the swamp left of matimba hill, extending farther to Nyabweshongwezi Trading center.
At the dawn of 10/02/1990, the FAR attacked own positions by shelling using 120 mm mortars from around 0530 till 0630 hrs.
At approximately 0700 hrs, the FAR launched an offensive attack to our 1st and 6th battalions under Byaruhanga and Ngoga respectively (both are decesed).
In a battle that lasted for approx 30 minutes, the FAR got repulsed and was forced to withdraw at around 0730 hours, FAR abondoned two 120 mortar guns at that time.
At around 0800 hours, two FAR armored vehicles advancing towards to our positions were surprised by our forces upon Matimba hill to my right, they were fired at using the 75 mm recoilless gun, the vehicles returned fire only to negotiate their turn around,but in vain.
Amidst a shower of bullets from heavy machine guns and 75 mm armor piercing bombs, the FAR crew decided to abandon the vehicles and run for they lives at around 0830 hrs.
From the armored vehicles attack that ended at 0830 hrs, there was no more FAR attacks,or presence in the area. In between 0900 hrs and 0930 hours,Gen. Fred Rwigyema walked from Kagitumba with his body guards towards our positions, to come and asses the situation at the field.
From my position at the tarmac, Gen. Fred Rwigyema with his soldiers, switched right to ascend Matimba hill following our line of defence. As he reaches uphill, some gun shots could be heard here and there in the defensive line; soldiers were still clearing their front areas with tall grass to eliminate possible threats.
On arrival in the positions, Fred’s body guards joined hands with the forces in the position to fire to their front briefly, that was happening at approximately 800 meters to my right at the top of Matimba hill.
In a brief silence from gun shots, (by our soldiers only), I saw unusual activities as if some injured soldiers were being attended to or something like that. I curiously waited with my eyes focused upon the hill for a while, Then, I saw 2lt Kangole coming down the hill amid cries, when I asked why he was crying, he told me that Gen. Rwigyema was dead.
He said it 3 times in Luganda language; “ Afande afude, afude,afude…,as he proceeded to Kagitumba to notify the Doctors.
The 110 Landrover jeep arrived at my position carrying; Capt. Joseph Karemera, Former NRA 3DIV incharge medical., Capt.Frank Balinda Munyaneza; 3DIV Admin Officer., X.Mutimbo;NRA ophamologist from Mbuya., and Lt George Kirindi former 308 BDE I.O.
We briefly talked as they came out of the vehicle, and they proceeded uphill to the scene of Rwigyema’s death.
In few minutes, the body of Gen. Fred was carried downhill to the awaiting vehicle which remained near my position. On arrival, I helped place the body in the jeep. I physically inspected the body and I found out that, he had been shot from the back of the neck, with an exit open wound on the front and a rip through the chin.
According to the soldiers that I talked to immediately to ascertain the circumstance under which the tragic death had occurred, I was told that, when everybody was focused on clearing the front with host soldiers in the defence, and while no one was looking, the soldier told me that; one of the two suspected officers in the conspiracy,who carried the silenced sniper rifle, took the opportunity and hit Fred from the back of neck.
It was in midst of the shooting to clear the area, that the two officers who were already in the rear, took advantage to assassinate Our hero , leader Fred Rwigyema.
The two officers were given to Rwigyema by Paul Kagame as allegedly;screened disciplined officers that were to be a good resource to him in course struggle.
Each and everyone of the bodyguards were questioned in one way or the other, and definitely the suspects were later known but due to the quick communication to the perpetrator that followed soon after,they were covered up until the Kagame came back and protected his killers.
On December 21, 2019 during the 14th Congress of RPF-Inkotanyi at Rusororo (a suburb of Rwandan capital Kigali), General James Kabarebe, the military adviser of President Kagame claimed that Ugandan officials are not happy of the recovering of Rwanda after 1994, and many Rwandan officials such as former President Pasteur Bizimungu, former Interior Minister Seth Sendashonga, yourself and many others worked for Uganda against Rwanda. How true is this statement?
Kaberebe’s false allegations and lies against me and others who fell out or those who are critics to the Kagame leadership is nothing new. Whenever anyone who is well knowledgeable of their evil activities , escapes their death squads, they always fabricate against that person and devise any means; to kill, harm and or silence that person.
Kabarebe’s lies about the neighbor who did this and that…!!
Is ridiculous and shameful to read and hear.
I know Uganda has always wished Rwanda of today, led by Kagame and Rwandans well.
Uganda and it’s Museveni made Kagame who he is today. Kagame should admit it out loud. Museveni has always been a strong and reliable logistic for his cause and destiny.
Museveni made Kagame, Kabarebe and others the people they are today. Kagame should really appreciate ; it hurts the worst for the person that you made feel special yesterday, to make you feel unworthy today. Ofcourse Kabarebe amplifies his boss’s thoughts.
Museveni recognized and appreciated Kagame because he was in the company of Fred Rwigyema. Sincerely, if there couldn’t be; Rwigyema, and Museveni who formed the NRA struggle, who knows where Mr. Kagame could be now.
In NRA P.Kagame was treated with regard and kindness, he rose in ranks to a Major, and was entrusted with a sensitive duty in the intelligence dept.
After the demise of Fred, Kagame was made our leader by those Ugandans, maybe, it could have been someone else. They mentored, supported and guided him all the way to the end of the war.
Uganda supported our war; logistically,technically administratively and otherwise.
At the end of the war,it’s Ugandans who stood with us to repair the souls of Rwandans and the country.Ugandans brought in; food, merchandise, and all services you can speak of.
Now, where could the “fight against Rwanda’s prosperity and development” be demonstrated?
Kabarebe is a liar !!
Uganda helped Rwanda fight the Ex-FAR /interahamwe that were regrouping in the former Zaire when Museveni connected Kabila to Kagame. The leadership of Uganda have always condemned the act of genocide and it still does.
In the efforts to support Rwanda become strong and to get rid of the enemy threat, Museveni hooked up Kabila to Kagame, so as to begin the war to oust Mobutu. All these were efforts by Museveni and Uganda to stand by the post Genocide Rwanda become strong and thrive.
I don’t know of Rwanda fighting the 8 countries and Uganda shooting her from the back, in what speculators dubbed the “Third African World War”.
I know Uganda supported Rwanda and Burundi later Joined them against DRC; and on the other hand ; Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia supporting the the DRC…!! Chad and Sudan’s alleged roles are just exageration so, if Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi were allies on one side, fighting against Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia that were in support of the DR on the other side. How was Rwanda facing off with 8 countries by herself, and then Uganda shooting Rwanda in the back?
On Former President Bizimungu; Kagame’s reason for Killing Rwigyema was power hunger. When RPF executives agreed upon Bizimungu to lead the transition government that was to be from from 1994 to 2003; Kagame had his agenda alive, he just wasn’t ready but, after he gained confidence, he couldn’t wait to take poor Bizimungu down. When Kagame consulted with some Ugandan friends in the political circles and also the RPF executives , if he should oust Bizimungu and become the president, they all advised him not to do it. But , instead he was advised to wait for the transition period to end.
Kagame did not listen to anyone’s advice, but instead continued with his agenda and he instructed his DMI to fabricate charges against him,and later forced him to resign.
Therefore, whoever advised him turned into an enemy for ever.
The Kagame system have all reasons to continue plot the end of my life, assassinate my character and criminalize me as much as they can, with all the resources they can employ.
I am one of the few who was against the Kagame evil tendencies right from the bush era; first,for speaking out on the death of Fred Rwigyema and comrades Baingana and Bunyenyezi. Then,there came the exact formation of the mafia group to support his efforts; when in May,1991 he ignored all the original officers from NRA, and never promoted them but instead doubled the ranks for his royals, most of whom were juniors in the military.
Upon noticing the unfairness and Kagame’s bad intentions to create his clique among us; I led group of around 12 officers to Steven Ndugute to talk about that unfairness.
After I fought for others and exposed that light of what was the creation of the small clique by Kagame, I was later ignored, and never to be considered for the next three promotions, and my life was threatened from then (1991). For those reasons and others; I survived three assassination attempts by the Kagame system in my lifetime.
In 2001 -2002 while in Uganda, a lot of money was pumped out for my head on a silver platter. Spies and hitmen were all over Kampala for my life, but God enabled the government of Uganda to protect me, until I left for the U.S in 2003.
I know, they have been trying their best to harm mean, but God still protects me and many others across the world that Kagame and his system are trying to eliminate. Therefore, Kabarebe’s attacks are a renewal of the agenda just in retaliation to my testimony regarding Gen. Rwigyema’s death. I know, they had relaxed, thinking that nobody will ever talk about that death.
They are worried and ashamed of the likely more first hand revelations that could follow.
Of course, talking against those killings and much more were the reasons why we had to fallout with the system, we were persecuted and run away for our lives.
We fled so we can maintain life and keep alive, alive to share our life experiences. Gen. Rwigyema is just one of the few stories I just talked about.
So, it’s understood why I am a subject of the media again. I was last in the media in 2001-2003, with a lot of falsehood against me, including theft and of course being a traitor who went to fight against their system. Like Wilson Rutaisire, I openly condemned the war against the two sister countries; Uganda and Rwanda and it was at the peak of the Kisangani battles that I was deployed. Kabarebe’s statements was about tarnishing my image, like they did to everyone who fell out with their system. It was to silence me never to open up my mouth or write down something about my life experience in Kagame’s RPA/RPF.
Those other comrades talked about;Furuma and Bizimungu were in the same category, Kagame harassed everybody, so long as you you tried to complain against injustice or criticized the system’s method of work. I can’t speak much on their behalf, maybe sometime they will speak for themselves. I am sure they are not happy with Kabarebe’s statements against them.
We fled for persecution from the system’s iron hand leadership, and we did not have anything to with Uganda.
There are countless; Generals,Senior officers, officers and soldiers, and politicians, businessmen and women and people of all walks that fled Rwanda through Uganda. Are those running to Uganda invited by the Government?
In many public meetings especially with Rwandan youth, General James Kabarebe said that the victory of RPF in 1994 is 90% the work of the current President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. As a former officer of the Rwandan Patriotic Army during the war, what do you think about that?
As to whether Kagame’s work as a leader towards the 1994 Victory against the FAR contributed 90%.
One can ask her/himself, where was the other 10% of the contribution towards the win of the war coming from?
As I stated on other subjects previously,and as a matter of fact. There is no country I have known, that launched such a struggle like ours,without support,if not full support from some government of a certain country. Everybody else were supported in their struggles, so was RPF struggle. Ofcourse you’ve got to have a clear and genuine cause, a well understood and a justified cause.The members have to be courageous,there must be a clear need for change, members well motivated towards that change, and ready to sacrifice lives.
RPA soldiers and their population from all over, met the revolutionary criteria that it required and that’s why, they were fully supported by all governments from the region.
Understandably,Uganda took a big share in the support of the struggle because it hosted many refugees compared to its neighbors.
And also, it had the children of the refugees involved in their struggles,like Rwigyema’s and many of us who had built that fraternity and camaraderie with our brothers from Uganda. Burundi had its remarkable share in the struggle and so is Tanzania. Actually, had it not been TZ, to allow us withdraw from the National park, over 60% of our force would have perished at the hands of our then enemy.
They provided safe passage of both recruits from Rwanda,Congo and Burundi, and also safe passage for our withdrawing troops from the park.
Therefore, I can’t estimate the value of Kagame’s contribution individually, but all I can say is that; Kagame or (we) never did everything in that struggle on our own. Kagame was supported and mentored from all the way. He couldn’t stand on his own until late when government.
I don’t go by Kabarebe’s smear statements, I was there in Uganda, and I started the war, stayed the course till the end, I never missed a thing. Kagame took advantage of all of us participants; fallen and alive, neighbors from close and afar, to amass the credit to himself as a super hero!!
According to our sources in Rwanda, you are a subject of harassments and deliberate attempts of character assassination from Rwandan officials. Is it true?
As I clearly narrated earlier, it’s nothing new to be a subject to harassment and targeted by the Kigali establishment. I was a subject in Rwanda, I was dubbed a criminal and enemy of the state officially from 1995. I lived and walked that life until God provided me an exit.
I was a subject to all kinds of false accusations in the regional media from 2001-2003. Consult archives from the; daily monitor, the new vision, the new times, Bukedde,Umuseso, the Rwanda herald, pambazuka, the East African and many other media outlets.
Of recent, when I came up with one of my sad testimonies about the tragic killings, they just renewed the attacks. There is nothing unusual. I know their ways. The system’s solution is killing: Seth Sendashonga and Teoneste,Lizinde bitterly complained against the rampant killing of their fellow Hutu population, they planned their assassination from Rwanda and both men got information about their deaths and fled the country all the way to Kenya. Later the Junta followed them there and still murdered them., when Lt. Col. Wilson Rutayisire alias Shabani, urged the system not to engage in a senseless war with Uganda in Kisangani, they associated him with Uganda,as a traitor like all of us, and they killed him immediately.
When Lt. Joshua Ruzibiza alias Abdul mentioned of Habyarima’s death, they poisoned him to death. Charles Ingabire was just a free lance writer, they assassinated him in Kampala.
Col.Patrick Karegyeya got tired of injustice,periodic arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, they followed him and killed him. Nyamwasa,Kayumba fell out with his once dearest one, they followed him and shot him, he survived death narrowly.
Mr. Rwigara refused to handover his long time family business to the Kagame junta, they killed him. Rwisereka got his head chopped of for his political ideas. Mr. Tribert Rujugiro runs for his life and his multimillion dollar businesses confiscated by the junta. He is still a subject of smear by the Kigali junta.
In conclusion, I was a subject of attacks for a long time,for my truth has always been bitter to Kagame system, since its creation..
A point to note is that; I am not alone, it’s for everyone that ever worked with that system and fell out with them or whoever points a finger to their bad deeds. It does not matter whether a Rwandan or a foreigner, the Kagame system will attack you in one way or the other.
It’s common knowledge that, Kagame and his system has attacked other governments, human rights organizations, individual leaders, journalists and all others that criticize or question his gross violation human rights record.
I know they are doing all they can to harm me, and am always watching their steps.
And also, I pray that one day, the Lord God may have mercy and bring the culprits to justice and give the Rwandan people, the relief that they deserve.