By Alex Muhumuza
Uganda’s regime propagandists, never tiring at spinning every event or situation possible into an opportunity to disseminate negativity about Rwanda, have jumped onto recent great news from the IMF for Rwanda to try to paint it as if the situation is dire! The Chimpreports website was the first of the Kampala propaganda outlets with the white-is-black strategy with claims that last week’s IMF disbursement to Rwanda of a US$ 109.4 Rapid Credit Facility meant “Rwanda’s economy was grinding to a halt.”
Chimpreports – one of the many tools of misinformation under the control of Brig. CK Asiimwe, the deputy director of Ugandan Military Intelligence, CMI – could not inform its readers that, a) this is a case of Rwanda prudently working ahead to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon its economy and, b) the IMF’s credit facility in actual sense was a vote of confidence in Rwanda – which is the first African country to benefit from it.
Here is what the IMF’s factsheet says about it: “The Flexible Credit Line (FCL) was designed to meet the demand for crisis prevention and crisis mitigation lending for countries with very strong policy frameworks and track records in economic performance.”
And here is what is says about qualifying countries: “The qualification criteria are at the core of the FCL and show the IMF’s confidence in the qualifying member country’s very strong policies, and ability to take corrective measures when needed.”
What all this says is very simple. Rwanda’s economy is not “grinding to a halt”.
Rather international lenders have every confidence in the country – whose economy has been on course to achieve double-digit growth this year – to keep performing very well once COVID-19 is overcome and the world gets back to business. According to the IMF, the FCL funds will support Rwanda’s efforts for backstopping a decline in international reserves and providing financing to the budget for increased spending.
“All this is aimed at containing the epidemic and mitigating the economic impact,” said Finance Minister Uzziel Ndagijimana.
Unknown to Chimpreports readers is another fact: Kigali has gained even more from the IMF than meets that eye. The Bretton Woods institution also has exempted Rwanda from current repayment of a loan worth US$ 68 million in the fight against Coronavirus, so that payback restarts 5 years from now – moreover at a zero interest rate.
Chimpreports no doubt has been banking on the gullibility of its audience to distort facts, though in this case they are sailing very perilous waters, if their own domestic situation were to come under scrutiny.
Inquisitive minds will quickly find out that countries characterized by high levels of corruption or embezzlement of public funds; or histories of mismanagement can’t be considered for a facility like FCL. Also whatever loans any such countries can receive – outside of favorable facilities like this – come tied up with tough conditionalities.
In its failing attempts to spin the COVID-19 situation in Rwanda as if it were worse than other countries, Chimpreports also falsely claims: “Rwanda, which closed its border with Uganda in February 2019, hence denying its citizens cheaper essential commodities, is the first country in its Africa to have its economy grounded to a halt by the spread of the virus.”
In the propaganda games of which Chimp is so adept, this is called “reaching”. They are straining, and straining, to find something that fits their masters’ falsified narrative – over the past year – of a “closed border”.
Yet the so-called border closure was the doing of Uganda itself. It was due the endless persecution and harassment of Rwandan nationals by Ugandan regime security agencies. After Kigali had spent well over two years complaining, through diplomatic means, of the mistreatment of her nationals – the never-ending arbitrary arrests on concocted charges; the illegal incarcerations, incommunicado; and torture, Kigali then moved to protect its citizens.
It issued a strong advisory against travel to Uganda, which Rwandans have heeded, and which remains in place.
However when the Ugandan authorities felt the backlash from their own traders and businesses that were losing revenues to the tune of millions of dollars when they lost the Rwandan customers, Kampala rushed to try to establish the false narrative. “It is Rwanda that has closed the border!” they cried, completely leaving unmentioned the crimes of their security agencies against innocent Rwandans.
Every time the Ugandan ruler crossed to western, or southwestern Uganda traders and business associations bombarded him with questions. “When will you do something to open the border! They grilled him on his government’s role in making Uganda so unsafe for Rwandans – very many of them their customers.
“The only reaction of the Kampala regime is to double down on the lie that ‘Rwanda closed the border!’” Commentators in Kigali observe.
Objective observers no doubt will find it funny that Chimpreports is even trying to inject that lie into a disinformation piece to try to discredit a deserved IMF loan facility to Rwanda.