By Fred Gashema
Softpower, a renowned Ugandan online misinformation outlet which is sponsored by the country’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) recently retracted an article in which the publication claimed that “Benjamin Rutabana – an RNC official that went missing in Uganda last year – was ‘abducted and murdered in cold blood’ by senior Rwandan military officials.”
The article, which was quickly exposed as just another fictitious smear by a CMI-funded propaganda outlet, was published on August 29, 2020 under the title “Investigation: I Witnessed Ben Rutabana’s Murder, Rwandan Soldier Reveals,” with one Lt. Gerald Tindifa, a Rwandan army deserter who fled to Uganda, as the prime informant. A decision to retract the article, according to media analysts, proves “how much Softpower editorial team is panicking as they caught lying through peddling a propaganda piece without a single evidence to back their outright lies.”
Links to the article were disabled and its associated social media posts were also retracted throughout the whole night of Tuesday September 16, 2020. But by Wednesday (yesterday) morning the article was back on the website though Softpower gave no explanation. The social media posts were nowhere to be seen.
Softpower claims that it caught up with Tindifa whom it quoted saying that “he witnessed the brutal execution of Rutabana by ‘Rwanda Defense Intelligence chief Brig. Gen Vincent Nyakarundi, under the orders of President Kagame.’ This is one of the lies that they are peddling to try to protect their masters CMI, specifically its chief Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho who – together with RNC chief Kayumba Nyamwasa – is directly implicated in the disappearance of Rutabana,” informed sources have pointed out.
Tindifa, a lieutenant that worked in the Rwanda Army shop was lured to desert by Uganda’s Special Forces Command in February this year, and is only being used in Ugandan propaganda’s anti-Rwanda smears, it has been shown. Tindifa for instance never was anywhere near Nyakarundi, a few former colleagues reveal.
On the other hand, the International Relief and Human Rights Initiative (IRHRI) – an American rights group that has been following the case of Rutabana has echoed voices discrediting the article by Softpower on disappearance of Rutabana and showing that it is CMI that is answerable for Rutabana’s disappearance.
“We strongly believe that the information we have so far gathered and continue to gather is undoubtedly correct. We well know that Rwanda had no hand in the disappearance of Rutabana. His disappearance is mainly based on the personal interests of Gen Nyamwasa and his close confidants in Uganda’s top security agencies,” Greg Smith Heavens, the CEO and founder president of the rights group said in a statement. By “Uganda’s top security agencies”, Heavens means CMI.
The IRHRI president further pointed out that Softpower was being used “to play diversionary tactics” stressing that whoever peddles lies about the death of Rutabana also “must be agents of Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.”
Softpower is owned by one Sarah Kagingo, a former member of Ugandan President Museveni’s social media team who now takes her payment full time from CMI.