President Paul Kagame says that allegations which were levelled against Rwanda, of using a sophisticated Israel-made spyware to spy on officials, were targeted at straining relations between Kigali and the said targeted countries.
The Head of State, who was responding to questions during a media and citizen interactive session hosted by Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA), said that no matter what Rwanda says to clear its name, those who are intent on blackmailing the country go on with the agenda due to what they set out to achieve in the first place.
A case in point are the allegations that Rwanda uses Israeli-made spyware Pegasus to spy on her targets, including Ugandan leaders and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
He pointed that despite Rwanda being categorical on not using the spyware, let alone being able to afford, the accusations were brought back by the same people, with the intention of creating a rift between Rwanda and the said targeted countries.
President Kagame said that whenever such accusations come up, it does not matter what Rwanda says, the allegations will still be levelled- something he says goes to show how some individuals simply love to hate Rwanda.
“We are kind of used to that. We always try to engage and explain sometimes you’re not even able to have the chance to explain it, to give your viewpoint. It is the other people’s viewpoints that matter, not ours, but it is ok,”
On the question of Pegasus spyware, President Kagame said that he was not surprised that it gains significance or prominence when the name of Rwanda is injected into the story.
“Spying itself is as old as human beings. This tool or any other tool that is used out there, there are so many of them used by everybody in this world, but when Rwanda’s name is mentioned, it is for a reason,” President Kagame said.
He said that going by the names of people they claimed Rwanda targeted with the spyware, it was done deliberately to cause problems between Rwanda and the said countries, citing South Africa as an example.
“There has been a problem for different reasons, and from different sources and Rwanda’s relationship with South Africa was improving, getting better,”
“It is not to please some people who had their own reasons and therefore they had to jump on a certain opportunity that just developed on its own, for other purposes again and injected it in, so that actually the warming of relations between the two countries does not continue or does not happen at all, for some,” President Kagame said.
He said that the issue of Pegasus keeps coming back for different reasons and when it did for the first time, Rwanda gave explanations that it doesn’t actually possess the said spying tool.
“We explained it and we thought it was over, then it came back recently and we have again explained. Those responsible, who deal with security matters and cyber issues have explained elaborately how we don’t actually have that kind of tool,”
“But like any other country in this world, Rwanda does collect intelligence and there are so many ways of doing that. The world knows, everybody knows, even those journalists know. In fact, the very Journalists who make these accusations or whoever is making accusations, probably get that information which they distort or tell lies about, by spying themselves,” he said.
He pointed out that despite Rwanda explaining that it doesn’t have the tool, the allegations have persisted. Whether Rwanda spies or not, the answer is a straightforward yes but it doesn’t use the said tool.
“If you’re saying do you spy with this tool? The answer is a big No -NO in capital letters. We have told them that,”
“We even told them that look, there are those few countries you have mentioned that use it, that actually even accept that they use it or that have not even denied it, which maybe they may take that it means that since they did not deny it, they are using it, according to the Journalists,”
Rwanda however has been categorical in stating that it doesn’t use the software, to the extent that the country advised those accusing it to check with the manufacturers of the spying tool to verify if Rwanda indeed acquired it.
“We told them ‘why don’t you go to those people who actually created that spying tool to tell you those who have it and those who don’t have it? You will find that Rwanda doesn’t have it,”
“How can we use what you don’t have? But of course, those who accused Rwanda, again for the very reasons, know what they are doing. For them it’s not about whether we have it or not. For them it’s to cause the damage to Rwanda,”
“Again, it fits into the whole narrative that has been there for as I know, 27 years. We have gone through these kinds of things, accusations of all kinds,”
“We have hard to explain ourselves all the way up to this point, but we are not complaining. We always do what we think is right for ourselves and explain what wrongs or things that are not true about us and that is where we live. So, the answer is no,”