Could Museveni’s “hidden” Rwandan identity be the cause of his hostility towards Rwanda?

From the first day of the almost 33 years he has (mis)ruled Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni has been heavily dogged by the question of whether he is a “true Ugandan”, or whether, in reality, he is a Rwandan.

This persistent question has followed the current leader of Uganda for most of his life. For instance, in Uganda’s 1980 national elections, he was thoroughly rejected by the Bahima of the Nyabushozi constituency in which he stood, even though he claims to be one of them. They accused him instead of “trying to con them into believing that he was a Muhima”, when in fact, they said, “He is a Munyarwanda.” Thus they elected Sam Kuteesa who was standing on the DP ticket. This incident, according to people that have followed Museveni’s life history, was a very painful one, that “he took a long time to recover from.”

In view of the current situation that Museveni has provoked against Rwanda – something that has annoyed very many ordinary Ugandan citizens who see no purpose in enmity with their Rwandan brothers and sisters – analysts have started to question Museveni’s true motives. Might the Museveni regime’s current hostile behavior towards Rwanda to do with a ‘secret’; that he is in reality himself a Munyarwanda?

Museveni has always felt threatened that if it ever gets confirmed he is of Rwandan origin, then he is an illegitimate president! So, in order to discourage such suspicions, he tries to display much overt hostility towards Rwanda.

Anyone that follows the news closely will have realized that, contrary to claims of mutual bad blood between Uganda and Rwanda, only the former has been behaving badly towards the latter. Only Museveni’s security agencies, the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and Internal Security Organisation (ISO) have been abducting, detaining in ungazetted illegal ‘safe houses’, torturing or generally harassing nationals of Rwanda.

Not a single Ugandan has suffered similar mistreatment while in Rwanda.

Only the Ugandan administration has tried to undermine Rwandan trade. Examples include blocking of plans to extend the Northern Corridor standard gauge railway to Kigali; undermining electricity sale agreements and many more; more recently holding a container of good from Rwanda to cross through Uganda to Mombasa.

Rwanda has not reciprocated to this hostility in any way.

In the matter of security, only Museveni is hosting and actively sponsoring a terrorist band to destabilize Rwanda. Kigali harbors no Ugandan terrorists or dissidents.

An examination of multiple media reports in the region will confirm these facts.

This, according to Kampala political analysts, could have to do with the fact Museveni is clinging on to power at a time his rule has become highly unpopular, with its unprecedented corruption, violence to citizens and other factors which have given rise to movements like “People Power”.

Therefore he is “trying to gain cheap populism by turning Rwanda into a scapegoat”, according to analysts familiar with the environment in both countries.

“Museveni is trying to gain cheap populism by targeting Rwanda,” said a Ugandan writer. “All that talk of “jiggers” and other insults constitute actual enmity towards Rwanda. But a good part of it is also meant to counter the persistent talk that “Museveni is really not a Ugandan but a Munyarwanda”, said the Kampala-based journalist. In other words, that he is the actual jigger that has infiltrated Uganda.

The problem with this, according to the journalist, is that in behaving towards Rwanda in ways that are so overtly hostile to an extent even Obote did not, Museveni only raises more suspicion about his identity.

A true Ugandan would have no trouble reciprocating the good neighbourliness Rwanda has shown all this time; so why all this exaggerated Museveni antipathy, many Ugandans have been heard wondering.

The bad behavior of Museveni towards Rwanda has been mirrored by others with Rwandan origins in his regime, most notably Brig Gen Abel Kandiho, and Sarah Kagingo, the former having a Rwandan mother and the latter having relatives living freely in Kigali.

Kandiho, who heads CMI, was plucked from obscurity as a young man by Salim Saleh, Museveni’s younger brother. For years, Kandiho worked as Saleh’s errand boy. His failure to place national interest above Museveni and Saleh’s private interests made it hard for him to find acceptance by Ugandan soldiers who always viewed him as a person mercenary of the duo.

This may explain why Kandiho has gone bonkers on anyone Rwandan he can lay his hands on in Uganda: Visiting Rwandan businessmen, transiting businessmen, Rwandan residents of Uganda, students, all have felt the CMI boss’ wrath. CMI has abducted them. It has, working hand in hand with RNC, forcibly recruited young Banyarwanda into the terrorist group. Those that refuse the recruitment face arrest on false pretenses. The most common tactic is to plant guns on them, then arrest them on charges of illegal possession of military weapons, that is triable only in military court martial to avoid civil courts where stricter rules of evidence and suspects’ rights apply.

It is a trend of hostile behavior that has left those who know Kandiho’s Rwandan background asking how someone can behave like that to people with whom he shares blood.

Sarah Kagingo, one of Museveni’s propagandists who, according to inside sources disguises herself with the handle “Gareth Ofungi” or “Ofungi Gareth” on Twitter, is another “disguised” Munyarwanda. She has hurled the most virulent insults towards the Rwandan leadership and Rwandans in general. She too is one of those trying extremely hard to disprove her Rwandanness and demonstrate her “Ugandaness”.

“These people are trying so hard not to be themselves, which is why Ugandans will never fully trust them!” said our journalist source.

“Were Museveni to proudly embrace his Rwandan identity it would be a liberating experience from his inner demons that arise from the dissonance of his internal identity struggle,” said a kampala based analyst.