INSIDE STORY: Rwanda New Times Chief Editor Resigns


Bideri said in the letter that his resignation would take immedeate effect.

For purposes of clarity, treatment in Uganda terms, Bideri was as powerful as Robert Kabushenga of New Vision (in terms of connection to government).

The move comes less than a month after Bideri was arrested by police and detained at Kicuciro police station where he was grilled for hours. The police chief General Emmanuel Gasana later confessed he detained Bideri for disrespecting police. Gasana said Bideri was insurbordinate and uncooperative when detectives asked him why he was interfering in the Rukarara dam project corruption investigations.

Bideri had earlier published controversial stories, showing money exchanged hands during the construction of the dam. Located in Nyamagabe District, Southern Province, the power project has turned into the Bujagali of sorts.

Costing the Rwandan tax payer a staggering $23m, the Hydro Power Plant was put in place to curb the rampant load shedding in the country. However, like in any other corrupt country, money changed hands and as we write this, Rukarara struggles to produce a meagre 5mw in sharp contrast to the projected 9.5mw. Much Rwanda president Paul Kagame later confirmed Bideri was detained for disrespecting police, the government was visibly uncomfortable with Rukarara stories. Kagame defended police’s actions while meeting a group of editors from abroad who visited Kigali recently.

It’s yet clear whether government of Rwanda forced Bideri to quit. Rumours have been flying high in Kigali that Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda had been tipped to take over as Managing Director of The New Times. Mwenda is a senior advisor and friend to Kagame. Mwenda spends the better part of his time in Rwanda, drinking tea with Kagame at his palace. Their relationship was facilitated in the late 1990s by first son Col. Muhoozi Keinerugaba. Since then, Mwenda has been a semi-official spokesperson for Kagame, who desperately wants favourable publicity in foreign media.

A top media analyst in Rwanda, however, said: “My friend, this is Rwanda, not Uganda. You can not bring a foreigner to give orders at an organisation dominated by Rwandese staff. Or country is very sensitive.”


There are three reasons which experts believe could have cost Bideri his fatty job. One is a report authored last year by Rwanda Auditor General showing Bideri swindled millions of shillings during his reign as MD at Rwanda Office of Information (ORINFOR) and New Times.

Multiple sources in Kagame’s government say indeed Bideri looted from public coffers while head of ORINFOR. Towards the end of last year, there were rumours he had fled to Canada in fear of being arrested for evading tax while at TNT. Whoever encouraged his return did not know what awaited the man who has now fallen from grace to grass.

The second reason is that Bideri was so close to former head of National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Dr. Emmanuel Ndahiro. On July 13, Kagame reshuffled his senior security chiefs, replacing Ndahiro with Gen. Karenzi Karake. Bideri was Karenzi’s puppet and spindoctor at TNT. Ndahiro was knifed following increased grenade attacks in Rwanda that left dozens injured. The attack in Kamembe, South western Rwanda, that injured 21 was the last nail in the coffin of Ndahiro’s reign as NISS boss. For a very longtime, Rwanda has accused exiled renegade army chiefs Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa and Col. Patrick Karegeya of masterminding the grenade attacks. The firing of Ndahiro was aimed at sweeping away the old guard that had links to the exiled generals.

Following the exit of Ndahiro, Bideri remained naked, with no guardian. By poking his nose into the Rukarara project, Bideri did not know the hyenas were ready to skin him alive.

The third reason could be the humiliation Bideri faced after he was arrested and detained at Kicuciro. For long, Bideri thought he was untouchable. For starters, Bideri was an elephant (historical) in the RPF Government until he fell from grace to grass. A source in Rwanda government says Bideri stepped on several top officials’ toes and fired workers from left, right and center.

In the process, he made so many enemies since he seemed to wield more power which translated into a fact that he reported straight to the President. This implied he received extra powerful assignments from the big man. The now helpless Bideri was used by the regime to discredit Kagame’s political and military foes.

Bideri was a staunch defender of the RPF ideology and mostly bashed critics of the regime through his meticulous writing skills and intellectual articulation of pro-government propaganda but mostly highlighting the power of Kagame the man. Bideri portrayed Kagame as invincible but little did he know he would meet the same fate as his predecessors.

Bideri was the most revered man by the Ugandans especially considering the Uganda-Rwanda army Kisangani clashes that sucked in the media of both countries. This made Bideri a winner at all occasions because his acidic intellectual reasoning made Uganda media advisors look like fools.


While he served at the national Broadcast house, he caused a lot of suffering and ejection of many employees in what was termed as Tsunami. Many were sacked and this brought no positive change to the Broadcaster but more trouble.

After the Tsunami at national Broadcast House, TNT also was swallowed into another crisis which saw several investigative journalists sacked. Another group of Kenyans were fired from TNT. Several other scribes were kicked out on allegations they were Ugandan spies planted by then Presidential Guard Brigade in TNT.

All these sackings were in the coordination of brute Bideri as he was a longtime big boss on the TNT board.

The scribes who were fired had transformed the newspaper into an investigative one. The Tsunami Phase at TNT ended with the cleaning of all suspected spies and installation of new sons and daughters of suspected pro-government leaning families.

Considering the power Bideri had, it was impossible for him to accept the police humiliation. Besides, the arrest showed Kagame had lost trust in him and is now facing a huge jail term for corruption. It’s also said Bideri ordered a ban on police coverage shortly after police boss Gasana confessed he had detained the editor for abusing detectives during the Kicuciro grilling. Besides, there are unconfirmed reports that media mogul Aga Khan has already bought shares in TNT and would soon impose new management starting next year. Bideri could have chose to quit before being unceremoniously kicked out.


The TNT top job is so hot that many have failed to contain the heat. Eddie Rwema, Safari Gaspard, James Vuningoma and Oscar Kimanuka tried in vain.

Bideri’s predecessor Ignatius Kabagambe is the only manager who left TNT without kicking up dust. David Kabuye, Kabagambe’s predecessor left unceremoniously. He was in office one day before taking off the next day to United States.


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