Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa, on Friday 17 May 2019, gathered together Kampala’s diplomatic corps to make a number of allegations against Rwanda that cannot be sustained with facts.
The allegations ranged from some such as, “Rwanda has closed the border”. This has become a constant Ugandan refrain that omits to mention Kigali made it clear it closed its part of Gatuna only to heavy trucks, and only temporarily, so as to facilitate quick completion of work on the One Stop Border Post.
The falsehood was followed by another: that, “Uganda has arrested Rwandan security operatives and ‘deported them’”.
Following his address to the foreign diplomats, Kutesa issued a press statement that also sought to cast doubt upon a number of protests which Kigali has raised with Kampala – namely that the Museveni government is an active sponsor, facilitator and host of groups like RNC bent on destabilizing Rwanda.
Rwanda has several times – through its embassy in Uganda, with use of notes verbale backed by documentary proof – protested the Museveni government’s support not only of RNC, but also of the genocidal FDLR.
The United Nations itself has pinned Kampala – together with Burundi – as being in cahoots to recruit for the DRC-based, so-called P5, the anti-Rwanda rebel grouping of which RNC and FDLR are the chief partners.
The UN Group of Experts on Congo published the incriminating report on 31 December 2018, laying out in minute detail the anti-Rwanda recruitment activities.
Uganda has laid low and said nothing all these months.
Even when, in December 2017, 46 recruits of RNC were intercepted by Uganda Police on the Kikagati border with Tanzania (for using forged Ugandan travel papers); and even after the recruits themselves confessed they were en-route to join RNC training camps with transportation facilitation and forged papers provided by Uganda’s CMI (military intelligence), Kampala kept quiet.
Reports are that these young men – who were supposed to be charged with terrorism – were secretly let go after Ugandan authorities initially pretended to jail them.
According to those that have followed these matters closely, that is the Ugandan way of doing things.
“Whatever Rwanda does to protest such acts – through diplomatic channels or otherwise – the Ugandan authorities just ignore and keep quiet, no matter how many times Rwanda shows them proof!” said a Rwandan official that preferred to speak off record.
He continued: “then after a time, you will see the same Ugandans coming out with baseless allegations like Kutesa’s today. He is denying things for which Rwanda has showed them proof countless times, while asserting things against Rwanda that are pure concoctions!”
Amongst Kutesa’s denials, he attempted to claim that Kigali’s protests against the Museveni regime’s security operatives – for harassing, abducting, illegally jailing, and torturing Rwandans – are not true.
But there are literally hundreds of Rwandan victims of such abuses at the hands of Ugandan security operatives, ready to testify against the likes of CMI. “Perhaps in an international court!” some have said.
Rwandan administration officials like Olivier Nduhungirehe, Minister of State in Charge of the East African Community, have said more than a thousand innocent Rwandans are languishing in Ugandan prisons, and have never stood trial.
President Kagame himself made the same point at a retreat of government officials when he said, “why don’t they at least give the detained Rwandans their day in court, and make the process transparent?”
When Kutesa’s Rwandan counterpart, Richard Sezibera took to his official Twitter account early in March to issue strong advise to Rwandan citizens against travelling to Uganda, his act was informed by a real fear that the human rights of his countrymen and women would not be guaranteed once across the border.
A Rwandan, Pastor Ntakirutimana Theoneste of the ADEPR Church, who has just survived two-months’ torture at CMI’s headquarters in Mbuya early last week said that there are over a hundred Rwandans suffering the most inhuman abuses, in Mbuya alone.
Just last Sunday, CMI abducted two other churchmen, Bright Hakizimana and Moses Nsabimana – both Rwandan nationals – and took them away. Their friends and family fear they are at Mbuya.
Ntakirutimana is certain CMI works together with agents of RNC in the torture of innocent Rwandans, the pastor said. Among his interrogators, he narrated, were people that spoke fluent Kinyarwanda. “They were RNC people, no one else,” he concluded.
Yet despite such incriminating evidence of Uganda’s partnership with groups bent on destabilizing Rwanda, Kutesa’s statement adopts the tone of victim; as if in all this Uganda is the wronged party.
The Ugandan official was deliberately misleading his distinguished guests from the first statement to the last.
He claimed Uganda has continued to espouse “peaceful co-existence,” yet Tribert Rujugiro, the RNC chief financier does business in Uganda. He builds and operates a tobacco factory there, in spite of all the proof Kigali has shown that he is financing terror in Rwanda.
The factory, according to those in the know, only is a façade concealing RNC operations in Uganda.
It does not end there. Kayumba Nyamwasa, the RNC boss gets a full spread in the state-owned New Vision newspaper to air anti-Rwanda vitriol.
RNC chief propagandist David Himbara gets a full page to do the same. Leah Karegeya gets a full page. Charlotte Mukankusi gets a Ugandan diplomatic passport. Eugene Richard Gasana gets to meet Museveni “accidentally!” All these are RNC bigwigs.
Museveni’s officials and propaganda mouthpieces have been trying to conceal their government’s active partnership with RNC in many ways. They have been spinning CMI (and RNC’s) abuses against innocent Rwandans with claims that, “Uganda is intercepting ‘Rwandan spies’”, or “Rwandan agents”.
Among such so-called “spies” are people like Darius Kayobera and his wife Claudine, abducted in the night of 28 January this year from their business premises on Musajjalumba Road, Rubaga in the Ugandan capital.
The Rwandans were taken by CMI agents that, according to eyewitnesses, also robbed them of their money. They were taken away with no arrest warrants, and were not read charges. They were taken even when they pleaded they had three little children (aged 9, 6, and 3) at home, and requested their abductors to at least let the mother go.
“To CMI, it was enough that they were Rwandans,” said Jean Claude Mucyo, their employee who was arrested with them.
Ugandan authorities deported Mucyo early last month after two months in CMI detention, enduring beatings and other torture. He too never was tried for anything. He said he found a way to give them all his savings.
“That is what may have saved me,” he told this website.
There are so many other similar cases, of people victimized by CMI for only one reason: they are Banyarwanda.
Kutesa only told the diplomats totally different things. “A number of Rwandan security operatives have been entering Uganda without following laid down procedures governing entry of security personnel into the country. A number of these, when apprehended, have been deported back to Rwanda,” he alleged.
Statements like that have prompted analysts from both sides of the border to seriously question the claims of Museveni’s officials and intelligence operatives. “How, in a matter as grave as national security, do you arrest suspected spies, then just deport them?” many have wondered.
Others have questioned, “Why has government never tried a single suspect, to show that this and this person indeed is a Rwandan spy? Why? Produce some proof, or just admit that it is all lies!” panelists on popular radio stations such as Capital FM have challenged Museveni and his officials.
On their part, Kampala government mouthpieces like The New Vision and ChimpReports have been echoing Kutesa’s statements as if it is Gospel truth.
“Rwanda is provoking Uganda, says Kutesa,” was the headline in yesterday’s state-owned New Vision. Observers have questioned the objectivity of a state propaganda organ that gives center spreads to RNC chiefs, the very people responsible for grenade blasts in Rwanda that have killed many, and maimed hundreds.
It simply amazing that Kutesa can openly lie about arresting operatives that are never produced in court to read them charges; nor have they allowed consular access to innocent civilians that they have conveniently branded security operatives. He then has the audacity to talk about freedom of movement in the region as if those languishing in CMI cells are there enjoying this freedom.
In the end, Uganda remains diversionary and unable to respond in a tangible manner to the charges that Rwanda has tabled.