By Alex Muhumuza
Earlier this week a strange article appeared on the SoftPower website – one of the Kampala intelligence services-controlled propaganda outlets – which insinuated that President Kagame convened a video conference of the EAC bloc’s ministers of health on measures to combat Covid-19 following “a call phone call from President Museveni.”
“President Yoweri Museveni on Sunday revealed having talked to his Rwandan counterpart on synchronized efforts as East African Community partner states to jointly combat the spread of Covid-19 in the region,” said the article.
SoftPower, which is run by Sarah Kagingo, a former member of Museveni’s press team but who now is on the payroll of Ugandan Military Intelligence (CMI), continues further down with the following quote. “I spoke to his Excellency Paul Kagame quite early on and we agreed that he, as the chairperson of the East African Community gets the ministers of health on video conference and agree on some measures, and they did.”
Shortly after the Ugandan ruler’s statements were made public, however, they were exposed as quite misleading.
Museveni did talk to President Kagame on the issue, but that was well after the date of the conference already was determined. Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta said, “The date for this meeting had already been discussed among EAC ministers at the initiative of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs which also notified the EAC Secretariat.”
Biruta disclosed that President Kagame found (Museveni’s) phone call strange at the time, but the false claim that the meeting came as a result of President Museveni’s request now sheds light on the motive of the phone call. Minister Biruta added that President Kagame was surprised by the phone call from President Museveni to request a meeting that was already set; and that his minister was already aware of.
The duplicitous nature of the SoftPower piece did not end there, however. This was apparent in a sentence quoting something that Uganda’s Senior Presidential Press Secretary Don Wanyama said, supposedly about questions members of the Ugandan public were asking via social media.
Wanyama told the president that some Ugandans ‘were wondering if there is a concerted effort by the East African region in tackling the disease since different countries seemed to be taking different approaches and interventions in combating the pandemic.’ What Wanyama was doing – and which SoftPower was amplifying – was summed in this sentence towards the bottom of the article: “Since assuming the chairmanship of the EAC, President Kagame has never held a summit of the EAC Heads of State.”
The Ugandan regime, its functionaries and their propaganda mouthpieces are trying to establish a narrative that somehow “Kagame is failing in his duties as chair of the bloc.”
It is yet another line of anti-Rwanda attacks that can’t stand a moment’s scrutiny.
President Kagame has called all meetings every time they were due; and when they didn’t happen no one could claim it was the Rwandan leader to blame.
When the 21st Ordinary Meeting of the Summit of East African Community Heads of State that had been scheduled for the 29th this February was postponed, it was at the request of the Republic of South Sudan. “The postponement of the Summit comes in the wake of a request by the Republic of South Sudan, which said it was in the process of forming a transitional government bringing together the government and opposition groups,” said an EAC press release.
Observers will have noticed how strange it is that Wanyama and other Kampala officials for their own reasons are ignoring the rules of the EAC. According to rule 11 of the Rules of Procedure of the Community, an EAC Heads of State quorum is made of all partner states representation, which is in consonance with decision making by consensus under article 12 of the treaty. In other words if even one country is missing there can be no consensus on any decisions or agreements reached in a summit.
What then, according to Wanyama – and all the pro-Kampala regime blogs or social media accounts that accuse the Rwandan President of “not holding a summit” – is supposed to happen if a member state requests postponement? They say nothing about that. They seem content to hurl accusations they perfectly know are false.
They did the same when the 18 Extraordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State, supposed to have been held this Wednesday was called off – again at the request of South Sudan. President Kagame had duly called the meeting, which was to deliberate on a regional response to the Coronavirus.
After South Sudan’s no show, that’s when Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Ministry took the initiative to convene the videoconference of health ministers – which proceeded to everyone’s satisfaction.
On the other hand, claims that “Kagame has never chaired a heads of state summit” are not true.
When President Kagame was elected Chairperson of the bloc last year in February, he immediately assumed his duties; meaning he already was chairing the summit in Arusha, during that very conference. On the other hand, it could also be pointed out that there were a couple of occasions during Museveni’s chairmanship, which preceded Kagame’s, when summits were called off. The reader may recall the heated exchanges in letters between Museveni and Nkurunziza regarding those postponements. “President Kagame treats his colleagues with respect and he isn’t about to start writing letters offending them,” an analyst observed.
In their eagerness to establish their false narrative, the Kampala regime has once again failed to see that the facts are on the surface, easy for anyone to see.