The reasons that have eluded many for the tension between Rwanda and Uganda are finally becoming clearer. In an interview on an array of issues of continental and regional concern, President Paul Kagame revealed to Pamela Sittoni, then Chief Editor of The East African, the wedge between the two countries.
President Kagame disclosed that individuals in South Africa have been feeding Uganda false intelligence aimed at nurturing suspicion between the two countries so that they may benefit from such a rift by gaining the support of the government of Uganda. Here’s the full quote:
“Some of the things that are said to be believed by Uganda about us, are coming from these individuals living in South Africa. Even logically, you try to understand if these individuals living in South Africa plotting all kinds of things against us are the ones giving information to Uganda in a way to solicit support from Uganda against us. Whether accurate or not, the information is designed to create that problem from which they benefit. If Uganda believes in some of these things, it’s because they have made a choice to believe them. We have raised these matters with Uganda, that when they are given information, it is because those people want to buy Uganda’s support.”
It was clear to everyone that Kayumba Nyamwasa, the disgraced former general in the Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) now self-exiled in South Africa, is the chief architect of this ploy.
Kagame wondered, however, why the Ugandan authorities (Museveni specifically) chose to believe Kayumba over what Kigali was telling them. How, in other words, did Uganda fail to see the motives behind Kayumba’s claims and treat them with the appropriate skepticism, given his known animosity towards his own country’s government? The central question is: On what basis does Uganda take Kayumba’s claims for absolute truth not warranting verification?
Uganda’s authorities have, in fact, done more than believe what Kayumba has been telling them; they have acted upon his dubious claims, victimising people in Uganda. Among these are innocent Rwandans who have refused to be mobilized into his anti-Kigali schemes. These have been branded spies, harassed, jailed, and tortured to such an extent that some have been deported on crutches.
Ugandans in the security forces who have treated Kayumba’s schemes as illegal activitivies on Ugandan soil have also been targeted, either to remove them from key positions to ensure they don’t become an impediment or they even incarcerated on trumped up accusations of colluding with Rwanda to destabilise Uganda. In all, Kayumba has been looking out for himself; providing false intelligence in order to sustain Uganda’s support for his Rwanda National Congress (RNC).
It is a well-know fact that after the RPF captured power in Kigali in 1994, Kayumba remained in close contact with Museveni and his brother Saleh. Even when he was the Chief of Staff of the RDF, he continued to engage in regular conversation with Museveni, in total violation of protocol.
Sources have revealed to this website that Kayumba has been able to exploit this personal relationship to the extent that Museveni believes everything Kayumba tells him. “He knows he has Museveni’s ear and that he can manipulate him as he wishes,” according to a retired diplomat who worked with Kayumba in the short period he served as a Rwandan diplomat.
It is this relationship that Kayumba has leveraged to bring the two countries on the brink of open conflict, with casualties being those who have stood in the way – knowingly or unknowingly – of Kayumba’s ultimate goal of vengeance against the authorities in Kigali.
It is equally clear that some officials in Uganda who fell victim to Kayumba’s machinations miscalculated regarding who, between themselves and Kayumba, Museveni would believe. They may indeed have erroneously thought the fact they had the truth and Kayumba was lying mattered. They were wrong, and are now rotting in jail.
In Museveni, who has long wished to “teach a lesson” to what he sees as “arrogant” Rwandans who have refused his dictates, Kayumba has found a fully eager and equally vengeful partner. This explains the warm embrace between the two – with Saleh as a triumvrate, and the associated friction with Rwanda.
They have found each other, so to speak.