A Tutsi/Hima of the Babanda clan, born in the commune of Matana, in Bururi province, Simbananiye emerged as a leading figure of the so-called Bururi “lobby” in the early 1970s. As Minister of Justice in 1971, he staged the parody of justice that presided over the trial of several high-ranking Tutsi politicians of Banyaruguru origins suspected of monarchist sympathies. Described as a man of “limitless cynicism, ambition and cruelty” (Remarques Africaines, May 1972), he is widely considered as the principal architect of the mass murder of Hutu in 1972. On the eve of the bloodbath he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Planning. It was in this capacity that he negotiated with Idi Amin of Uganda the return of Charles Ndizeye (ex-king Ntare V), a conspiracy that led to his assassination in Gitega on April 29. Simbananiye’s name is associated in Hutu memory with the “Simbananiye plan”, a machination presumably aimed at killing enough Hutu to ensure numerical parity between Hutu and Tutsi. Although the evidence suggests a politically motivated fabrication, to this day the plan is retrospectively cited by many Hutu as irrefutable proof that the genocide was planned long before it happened. After his fall from grace in 1987 he went into exile, only to return to Burundi a few years later as a Born-Again-Christian.
Chrétien, Jean-Pierre & Dupaquier, Jean-Francois, 2007. Burundi 1972 : Au bord des genocides, Karthala.
Lemarchand, René, 1994, Burundi: Ethnic Conflict and Genocide, Cambridge: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Cambridge University Press.
Nsanze, Augustin, 2007, Le Burundi Contemporain: L’Etat-nation en question (1956-2002), Paris: L’Harmattan.
“Génocide au Burundi” in Remarques africaines, May 1972, n° 400, pp. 4-10.