By Alex Muhumuza
In what obviously was a coordinated media campaign, Kampala-based print and online media yesterday, Tuesday 11, ran a sensationalist story alleging that seven members of Ugandan security organs had been remanded for “spying for Rwanda.”
From mainstream media establishments such as The New Vision, Daily Monitor, Observer, and others, to propaganda websites like Commandonepost and Spyreports known to be on the payroll of Ugandan Military Intelligence (CMI), they ran the story that the accused were “sharing sensitive information with Rwandan Government agents.” This followed charges against the seven by Ugandan military prosecutors.
The media organs reported that CMI arrested the group – among whom “the principle suspects” 2nd Lt. Phillip Ankunda, a pilot attached to Special Forces Command, and 2nd Lt. Alex Kasamula, an officer of the UPDF regular forces – in May, this year. Others arrested were reported to be Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Benon Akandwanaho, ASP Frank Sabiiti, Pte. Samuel Ndwaine, Pte. Moses Asiimwe Makobore, and Pte. Godfrey Mugabi – the last three reported to be attached to the Airforce Wing at Nakasongola as, “students of flight engineering (sic) and aircraft maintenance.”
According to Military Prosecution, “between February and May 2020, while at various places in Kampala District, Ankunda, Kasamula, Sabiiti, Akandwanaho, Ndwaine, Asiimwe, Mugabi and others at large shared sensitive information with agents of Rwandan authorities with intent to prejudice the security of the defense forces.” Reading through the articles on the different websites it does not take long to spot the anti-Rwanda scapegoating games.
The first question practically jumps off the text: who are these “Rwandan authorities” that the suspects allegedly gave sensitive information to?
Observers note that if a country is going to level a charge against another, on a matter as grave as undermining its security, it has to substantiate its allegations. It has to show some proof, and not mere assertions that can be concocted by any shyster prosecutor.
Moreover, said a Rwandan government official that requested to speak off the record, Ugandan authorities cannot fob off questions about why they’ve failed to name a single Rwandan of those they allege to have received “sensitive information” with claims that ‘investigations are still ongoing!’
“In such a case they should then wait until they had evidence to present in court before making any claims. But with no evidence the only thing they have done is mudsling Rwanda,” the official added.
Also it will be remarked that if the Ugandan authorities – note that CMI says it arrested the seven suspects in May – really had anything to prove wrongdoing by Rwanda, they would have produced it.
Kampala has a good example when it comes to a country proving wrongdoing by another. Rwanda itself. Kigali has on numerous occasions explicitly accused Uganda of engaging in activities or plots to destabilize its security, and it always does so with irrefutable evidence. Kigali does not issue vaguely worded accusations that would only amount to slanders if backed with no evidence.
Take the evidence Rwanda presented in December last year to prove that Ugandan authorities coordinated a terrorist attack – by militias of the RUD-Urunana group – in Kinigi in October last year. When the terrorists struck, killing 14 civilians and injuring many others, shortly after which Rwandan security forces swung into action, killing 19 of the terrorists and capturing five alive, the four that managed to escape fled to Uganda.
Two months later in December, during the second meeting of the Ad-Hoc Commission on Implementation of the Luanda MoU, the head of the Rwandan delegation (former State Minister in Charge of the EAC Olivier Nduhungirehe) revealed that after the Kinigi attack, an assortment of material evidence, including phone handsets and testimonies of the captured terrorists, was collected.
“One Ugandan telephone number appeared to have been in contact with the attackers both before and during the attack. This number has been found to belong to the Hon. Philemon Mateke, Uganda’s Minister for Regional Cooperation,” Nduhungirehe said.
A Ugandan minister had coordinated a terrorist attack in Rwanda, and Kigali was telling that to the world, including naming that minister, who couldn’t have acted without the authorization of his boss.
“But CMI claims to have ‘intercepted members of Ugandan security forces allegedly passing sensitive information to Rwandans’, yet they, and the military prosecutors are not naming those Rwandans? Why?,” wondered a Kigali-based writer on security issues.
The answer is only one, he observed. This is yet another concocted accusation of Kampala’s against Rwanda.
There is a lot of prior behavior by CMI to illustrate Kampala’s agenda of propaganda, usually executed with gratuitous violence, against Rwanda and her citizens. Operatives of the dreaded intelligence organ on numerous occasions have abducted, and paraded Rwandan nationals to the media with allegations of “spying”, “kidnap” and other charges.
In August 2017 when agents of CMI abducted a Rwandan, Rene Rutagungira, from a bar in the Bakuli neighborhood of Kampala, they wasted no time issuing claims (which they never presented with evidence, and never proved) that he was “a spy for Rwanda”; an accusation that soon changed to “kidnapping.” This only is one of countless examples of Rwandans victimized in such a way.
Also here have been numerous infamous examples in the recent past when websites or social media accounts on the CMI payroll – like the aforementioned Commandonepost, SpyReports or individual Facebook accounts such one Titus Seruga – have rushed to name Rwanda every time an extra-judicial assassination (each ordered by Museveni, as it turns out) has claimed the life of a prominent Ugandan.
When former Uganda Police Spokesperson AIGP Andrew Kaweesi was assassinated in 2017, Kampala propaganda outlets and social media accounts were blaming Rwanda, even in the face of behavior such as Uganda government security operatives removing video from CCTV cameras that had filmed the crime from a nearby supermarket – near the deceased’s home in Kulambiro. The same thing happened when former Arua MP Ibrahim Abiriga was shot dead next to his home in Kampala. Or when former Buyende DPC Muhammad Kirumira met the same fate. In other instances such as the numerous killings of Muslim clerics, all crimes of the Ugandan regime, CMI propagandists have reliably deflected blame upon Rwanda.
Yet this same regime, so capable of concocting such things, now will not say who the mysterious “Rwandan authorities” are that they allege took sensitive secrets from members of Ugandan security forces?
“The fakeness of it stinks, to the high heavens,” laughed the security expert whose views were solicited for this article.
It also reeks of desperation. Even after the Ugandan leadership signed the Luanda MoU – which among other things obliges it to stop working with negative elements bent on destabilizing Rwanda – Kampala has been exposed as stepping up those activities instead. In the wake of this, a pattern has emerged whereby Ugandan authorities issue denials when caught red handed. Only to be shown to be lying, again, and again.
Most recently it has come to light that Museveni earlier this year scolded Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC and all its agents for “not working clandestinely enough”, and as a result getting exposed. It then transpired that the Ugandan ruler blamed “this tendency” (or the fact that RNC is breaking up into rival factions) on what he calls “ideological immaturity.”
Subsequently Museveni has instructed CMI “to conduct cadreship courses for RNC – together with members of RAC, the breakaway RNC faction.” But when such things are exposed in the media, as they were a few days ago, it drives the Kampala regime mad, with anger and embarrassment, and “the default reaction is to manufacture stories about Rwanda,” a source said, adding: “that is what the allegations about those seven fellows is about.”