March 19, 2019

‘In One Month, RPF Rebels Collected $3m For Liberation War’ ─ New Book Reveals

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RPA rebels donned this rare striped green-brown uniform and gumboots. No other military group has worn it. Even currently, this uniform is not among those used by the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF). This photo of an RPA rebel on guard is found in the Campaign Against Genocide Museum located at Parliamentary buildings

The response of Rwandan refugee communities in the diaspora in assuming part of the responsibility for the 1990-94 liberation war was very strong that many were easily willing to give their hard-earned money, a new book reveals.

In a 271-page publication titled: “Transforming Rwanda: Challenges on the Road To Reconstruction”, Dr Jean Paul Kimonyo gives rare insight into how the rebel movement that eventually stopped the genocide and captured state power in July 1994 was able to win the war and steer Rwanda to recovery.

“The [Rwanda Patriotic Front) had three main sources of funding”, writes Dr Kimonyo, adding, “The amounts collected could be considerable but varied depending on the military situation.”

When the RPF/Army launched armed rebellion on October 1, 1990, it had a strict criteria for accepting recruits and supporters. The group did clandestine recruitment for soldiers, and required that any new supporters have political training and strict respect for its principles and procedures.

However, the immense needs of the war effort forced the RPF to change, writes Kimonyo, currently a senior advisor to President Paul Kagame.

It is these Rwandan communities spread across the globe who contributed money. The foot soldiers for the RPA flocked from Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and former Zaire, now DR Congo and other regions including North America.

When the rebels captured and occupied north western regions of Ruhengeri and Byumba, more contributions came in from supporters. However, when a ceasefire was agreed with the government of President Juvenal Habyarimana, the amounts from supporters “decreased sharply”, explains Kimonyo.

But when France, which had been backing Habyarimana’s forces announced the creation of the controversial zone turquoise covering south western Rwanda in June 1994, RPF members bought its “special contribution cards” at record rate.

This incident led the movement to collect $3m in one month, according to the book. The evidence is based on internal confidential RPF data that had never been released to public before.

In current inflation rate, that amount is about $5.1m today (about Rwf4.6billion).

These constantly flowing funds for the war effort from supporters also funded government operations for two years─ from July 19, 1994 when the government of national unity was formed since state coffers had been completely emptied by the genocidal regime.

The book covers the broad development path for the country since 1994. It also points to some key players.

What is surprising is the naming of exiled dissident Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, who is at the center of the latest standoff between Rwanda and Uganda, as one of the players at the time.

Gen Nyamwasa leads the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) established in 2010 in South Africa. Today, a report by the UN Group of Experts on DRC has documented his operations in the vast country and names him as the leader of the new rebel group codenamed “P5” based in Eastern DRC.

Rwanda accuses him and other former senior officials of trying to launch a rebellion. His recruits are trained in Burundi and DR Congo, say the Rwanda government and a UN report.

The funding is said to partly be coming from Uganda – directly from the security services of President Yoweri Museveni and exiled Rwandan businessman Tribert Rujugiro, who has a $100m tobacco venture in Uganda, and hundreds of millions of dollars of business interests across the continent.

Gen Nyamwasa, back in 1998 a Brig General and army chief of staff, was a key player in strategic meetings held to map the country’s future. He dealt with what Dr Kimonyo calls “issue of security” in the book.

The RPF meetings attended by “senior cadres” were chaired by General Paul Kagame, President of the RPF movement.

In the then government of national unity which was four years old, Kagame was Vice President and Minister of Defence.

Kagame, according to Dr Kimonyo’s book, said in one of the meetings dubbed “Kicukiro 1” that the discussions they were having should “solve [Rwanda’s] basic problems and lead to development”.

Like the old saying goes, the rest is in the book for you to explore.

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