The propaganda and extortion games behind MTN Uganda’s troubles
By Rutore Samugabo
The Museveni administration’s organs of propaganda have stepped up the tempo in their demonizing of Rwanda in the aftermath of the arrests and deportations of top MTN Uganda staff – one of them Annie Tabura, a national of Rwanda.
A website called ‘edge.ug’ was at it on Wednesday this week – echoing Sarah Kagingo’s ‘Softpower’ website – when they published articles smearing Rwanda which, when one compared them, obviously were written by one person.
It is evident then that ‘Softpower’ and ‘edge.ug’ are one and the same thing – confirmed when you look at Softpower’s article titled “departed Rwandan built mobile money networks” and edge.ug’s deceptively titled “tracing Kigali hand and Bobi Wine rise in MTN saga”. Whole paragraphs from one to the last are published word for word in the other.
Kagingo has “excelled” at mudslinging Rwanda this time, just as she has excelled at smearing individuals, groups, or countries that the Kaguta regime keeps turning into enemies. This regime has been lambasted so many times as corrupt, criminal and incompetent that the only remaining strategy is to scapegoat its problems. It is the only way they see to maintain legitimacy.
Therefore it is not surprising that Rwanda, as usual, is bearing the brunt of the lies created in the aftermath of the MTN staff fracas – because Rwanda has become Kaguta’s favorite scapegoat.
Edge.ug accuses Annie Tabura of running a network in Uganda of “refugee kidnappers”, “killers”, “coordinating female Kigali intelligence operatives” into Uganda who “pretend they are sex workers”, and a whole litany of other things. But they did not try her in a court – she or the other victims of the forces behind MTN Uganda’s current troubles.
What makes the anti-Rwanda propaganda so vicious is that it is orchestrated by powerful but self-hating Banyarwanda groups in Kampala, beginning with Museveni and his wife (the parents of both Museveni and Janet Museveni are Banyarwanda), on to regime insiders like Sarah Kagingo whose parents are Banyarwanda. Yes, one can try to run away from the facts, but they are stubborn things. So is the mother of the chief tormentor of Banyarwanda in illegal detention centres, Brig. Gen. Abel Kandiho. She is a Munyarwanda. In fact, if you want to know someone with Banyarwanda blood in Uganda just make a list of the people who are most vicious in their attitude against Rwanda.
Anyone that wants to understand the true reasons behind the shocking animus of the Museveni administration towards Rwanda needs to know that. NRM/Museveni insiders run a country as if they would be disowned – and deported – if their true ethnicity became established. As if they are paranoid.
With Museveni, people have always whispered that he is a Rwandan, and that he was just an adopted son of the late Amos Kaguta. That is a big threat to the Ugandan leader, and it makes him hate Banyarwanda even more. According to opinion, that is what makes him demonstrate his hatred, via all the scapegoating of all Uganda’s problems on Rwanda. It helps him evade responsibility or accountability while, he hopes, it also shows he is a true “son of the soil”. In other words President Museveni attempts to incite anti-Banyarwanda bigotry in Uganda.
That is the circular reasoning behind much of the current standoff – purely of Museveni’s doing – between Kampala and Kigali.
The same applies to the Kagingos and others like them. They outdo each other in demonizing Rwanda and creating harmful lies against Uganda’s southern neighbor, to show their bona fides as “true Ugandans.”
Their government goes as far as hosting and facilitating terrorists groups on Ugandan soil whose purpose is to kill Rwandans and destabilize the Rwandan government. The facts of that are not hidden; they are only a simple Google search away.
Sponsoring terrorist groups is one of a multi-pronged effort to destabilize the current administration of Rwanda. Misinformation and propaganda is the other major prong of that nefarious effort. So is scapegoating.
In Kagingo’s current smears against Kigali, her websites imply amongst other things that “Rwandan spy networks in Uganda” are behind the deaths of prominent Ugandans, even though they have never conducted proper investigations into the deaths of those same prominent Ugandans, which suggests they know who the killers are and are protecting them.
How does one pin a crime they have not solved on another? Guesswork? They do not explain. They simply hope, as one analyst said, to throw as much dirt at Rwanda as they can and hope some sticks.
The allegations against Annie are in the same vein. Unproven, unsubstantiated, and therefore mere dirt. For if they had some facts, why did they deport her after no trial? Why in fact did they not try in a court of law all the other MTN staff they are busy deporting?
The facts that are emerging show the whole saga has been engineered by the Museveni cabal, specifically the inner circle of the president in Mafiosi family heist; a shake down for cash.
It achieves a number of objectives, according to analysts. “Number one, to aid in the ongoing propaganda war against ‘a neighboring country. Secondly, to shake MTN down for millions of dollars,”
Information from Uganda telecommunications circles shows that MTN Uganda’s 10-year license expired on January 20, 2019 and the company wants to pay US$ 58 million to have it renewed. President Museveni however is adamant that the telco pay US$ 100 million.
“The Ugandan leader is a man who recently was implicated in a US court of taking a bribe of half a million dollars, imagine then what he is planning to scam from renewing MTN’s license!” said the analyst.
It is emerging that the ongoing arrests, deportations and harassment of staff of the giant telco are extortion tactics. “Pay up what the big chief wants, or life will get much tougher for you!” is the message.
In the meantime Softpower, edge.ug and the myriads of other Kampala-affiliated propagandists are busy with allegations that some of the staff were “Rwandan spies”, or sponsors of Bobi Wine and so on. That serves as nice cover “to disguise” the extortion, while it kills two birds with one stone, by mudslinging Rwanda.
Do not be surprised if MTN pays up soon and the whole brouhaha quiets down. Then the (adopted) son of Kaguta will be smiling all the way to the bank, while the Kagingos clap and dance.