RDF key military officer Maj Gen Mubarak Muganga has said Rwanda did Africa an forgettable service by leading military campaign that removed former DR Congo dictator Mobutu Sese Seko from power.
Rwandan forces in October 1996 matched across the vast country, then called Zaire. At the time still called RPF Inkotanyi, the Rwandans backed Congolese rebels led by Laurent Désiré Kabila.
Mobutu’s capture was only averted with the intervention of the then South African President Nelson Mandela. He negotiated Mobutu humiliating departure from Kinshasa as rebel forces took over the last enclave from the once revered African strongman.
Addressing a youth conference organized by the Pan African Movement, Maj Gen Muganga said other African Presidents were so scared of Mobutu they never looked him in the eyes.
Maj Gen Muganga is not an ordinary military General. Apart from being the RDF Division Commander for Eastern Province and Kigali City – both key command responsibilities, he is one of most respected Rwandan military officers.
“We saved Congo from a man called Mobutu who other African counterparts were so afraid of,” Maj Gen Muganga told over 1,200 youth.
“[The African leaders] feared to even look him in the eyes which they imagined were like those of a lion.”
Maj Gen Muganga added: “Inkotanyi with His Excellence Paul Kagame at the forefront together with Rwandans we went there and finished the job very well.”
On May 17, 1997, ending nearly 32 years of rule in Africa’s third-largest country, President Mobutu yielded power. He quietly slipped out of this besieged capital aboard a flight to his northern hometown, as a brief stopover en route to permanent exile.
By evening, Mobutu, 66, had already left his hometown, Gbadolite, for Morocco, where he maintained one of many luxurious palaces. He died there several years later.
Rebel leader Kabila who went on to be President would later changed the country’s name to Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Rwandan Col James Kabarebe, now Four-Star General, became Kabila’s military chief. But the marriage was short-lived.
President Kagame was at the time Vicep President and Defense Minister, after he had led the RPF to also oust the genocidal government and halted the genocide against Tutsi in July 1994.
Maj Gen Mubarak Muganga addressed youth on December 17 in Ngoma district, eastern Rwanda, a conference converging youth from the 7 districts making up the Eastern Province. His comments are only emerging as reported by local media.