By Alex Muhumuza
Sections of Ugandan media have leapt onto the arrests of three individuals in Kigali, on suspicion of complicity in attempts by an army officer, Tom Byabagamba, to escape prison, to milk the incident to the last drop of anti-Rwanda propaganda.
As usual it is the Ugandan Military Intelligence-controlled Chimpreports leading the charge to turn the arrests of suspects John Museminari (as well as Emmanuel Mukimbiri and Mugisha) into something they are not, writing as if this is an earth-shaking event in Kigali. But it is not.
It is just the law taking its course in Rwanda, commentators, mainly on Kigali social media platforms, were remarking. The general sentiment was that if Museminari and the others are guilty they will get their due sentences, and if they aren’t they will be free men.
However Chimpreports’ sensationalist headline, “BREAKING: Rwanda Arrests Family Members of Jailed Brig. Rusagara, Col. Byabagamba,” of its article published Thursday 23 this week made it seem as if it was “the end for Museminari”, and the others. This was alarmism contradicted by Rwanda Investigations Board (RIB).
“The files of Museminari, Mugisha and Mukimbiri have been forwarded to Prosecution,” said RIB Spokesperson Marie Michelle Umuhoza as quoted in local media reports. “They are being investigated about the intentions of a prisoner to escape from detention.”
Chimpreports as one of the Kampala websites that’s distinguished itself over the past few years as a purveyor of anti-Rwanda misinformation – as directed by it’s CMI paymaster – disregarded this information in their eagerness to make it seem like “Kigali had arrested the suspects just because they are related to Byabagamba”, (and fellow inmate Frank Rusagara).
“The Rwandan Government has arrested the family members of jailed former army officers Rusagara and Byabagamba. The motive for the high profile arrests remains unclear,” claimed the website. Playing the negative angle to the hilt, the website then goes into detailed descriptions of the CVs of the wives of Museminari and Byabagamba.
This raises the usual ethical questions relating to the practices of Chimp. First of all if it is Museminari being arrested, and not his wife, how does it serve the reader to be told all the details of the personal life of the suspect’s wife? Or Byabagamba’s?
Journalists are taught that a good news article is supposed to provide information on a need-to-know basis, therefore the professional thing to do for Chimp would be to provide background only on the suspects – in this case Museminari and the two others, as well as Byabagamba who was intent on escaping. If the website needed to say something about their wives, that would be appropriate if they too were suspects.
Chimpreports however isn’t motivated by any professionalism. It has its agenda as demonstrated by its industrial-level churning of anti-Rwanda hit pieces and fictions.
On the other hand they merely look on, keeping quiet as gross abuses of human rights are happening everywhere in Uganda. Member of Parliament (for Mityana) Francis Zaake for instance lies in a coma in Naguru Hospital following torture at the hands of the CMI-affiliated Special Investigation Unit. Zaake’s crime? Distributing food to constituents that are in confinement as part of the country’s measures against Covid-19.
That is just one high-profile incident of extra-legal crime perpetrated by Ugandan security services against Ugandans. But Chimpreports says nothing about this outrageous incident, against a member of parliament no less, as it feigns concern about lawfully arrested Rwandans.
Violent crimes against ordinary Ugandans by state security operatives are the order of the day.
Also there are other serious crises like theft of enormous sums of public monies by big fish – the latest mega scams involving billions of shillings, borrowed and appropriated in the guise of “supplementary budgets to combat Covid-19.” The Ugandan public sees not one tangible benefits from these monies.
But Chimpreports finds no time to ask where these funds are going, though it is never failing in finding things to smear Rwanda with – such as in another article run on the very day as the piece on the arrest of Museminari and the others.
Published under the headline, “Exclusive: Ugandan Truckers Harassed in Rwanda, Risk Contracting Covid-19”, the article carries a number of allegations that the reader is supposed to just take at face value.
Chimpreports serves up a number of claims – supposedly by Ugandan truck drivers – with nothing to back them; no one from the Rwandan side, nor the quotes of any detached eyewitness. “Rwandan authorities have continued to silently harass and frustrate foreign truckers transporting cargo in, and throughout the country,” claims the website.
Here the discerning reader will be left scratching their head, trying to understand what “silent harassment” means. Very probably Chimp could be trying to stretch the meaning of “harassment” to turn a procedural matter like submitting the truckers to Covid-19 tests, into something more sinister.
“It could mean the foreign truckers are being politely requested by the authorities to undergo Covid-19 tests, rather than being beaten up like Chimpreports normally sees its own bosses do!” laughed a reader.
Reports as far back as early March in the Kampala media have detailed some real harassment in the guise of “combating Covid-19”.
Ugandans and foreigners arriving at Entebbe for instance (those that according to various reports either would not, or could not pay bribes to leave the airport without getting tested) were being crammed in overcrowded hotels in Entebbe – in a so-called “quarantine” measure. To their shock they were “staying in conditions ideal for contracting Coronavirus!” fumed social media commentators, like prominent influencer Angelo Izama from his Twitter account.
As if the squalid conditions weren’t enough of a shock for these people – both foreigners and Ugandans – they also learnt they had to pay for their own quarantine.
It leaves one staring in wonder at Chimpreports, an organ that can be aware of issues like these and much more in its own backyard, yet retains the brass to turn around and accuse Rwanda of “harassment” – just because it demands testing for truckers.