By Alex Muhumuza
An article full of self-serving diatribes against Rwanda by unnamed Kampala security sources has appeared on the Softpower website – a propaganda outlet run by Sarah Kagingo, one of the Museveni regime’s most ardent minions. Softpower is one of the several actors in an ongoing anti-Rwanda campaign of misinformation and propaganda directed and paid for by Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).
In this article, Virunga Post brings you the first part of a dissection of the misinformation therein.
The article – which appeared in Softpower yesterday, Thursday 13, under the title “Biruta’s false claims against Uganda diversionary from Kigali’s criminal acts” – however, takes the cake when it comes to murdering truth, facts, or the journalistic principle that when one makes a claim they back it with facts.
The first provable lie appears in the very first sentence. “Uganda maintains focus on improving relations,” says part of the sentence. It is like reading a parody. The Ugandan regime is doing the exact opposite of “focusing on improving relations.”
Kampala has stepped up its acts of anti-Rwanda hostility, which hark back to the mid 90s – when the Ugandan regime ran Kayumba Nyamwasa as a double agent, back when Museveni hit upon his plan to destabilize Rwanda. “Because of course Museveni was very annoyed that Kigali refused to be controlled from Kampala,” a long time commentator on Rwanda-Uganda issues said.
That hostility – which the Ugandan regime would escalate by among other things enabling Nyamwasa evade the law to escape to South Africa from where he set up the terrorist RNC, and jumping into bed with the genocidal FDLR whose officials the Ugandan state became a benefactor, providing travel documents and other facilitation – has not ended. It only intensifies.
“How can Uganda claim it is ‘maintaining focus on improving relations’ yet RNC agents like Sulah Nuwamanya and Prossy Boonabana work with CMI in acts of anti-Rwanda subversion: setting up RNC cells all over Uganda, recruiting, and mobilizing support?” asked a Kigali official.
“These are things for which Kigali has shown proof, in forums like the Quadripartite meetings on implementation of the Luanda MoU,” he added.
“How can Uganda claim it is focusing on improving relations even after it has come to light that CMI has been instructed to set up cadreship courses for agents and members of Nyamwasa’s RNC?” another reader of the Softpower piece asked.
Bur even as it peddles bald-faced falsehoods, the writer pivots to blaming Rwanda on issues like “border closure” – a favorite canard of the Ugandan regime’s.
It came about when the Ugandan ruler and his security agents realized their blunder in targeting hundreds of innocent Rwandans for persecution, harassment, illegal incarceration, torture and other abuses in their campaign of anti-Rwanda hostility. Matters reached the extent whereby Ugandan security forces victimized Rwandans that even included old men, teenagers going back to school, pregnant women and others like that, always with accusations of “spying”, “illegal entry” and other trumped up charges.
Kampala seemed to think Kigali would just keep looking on and do nothing.
That was why, when on the First of March last year Rwanda took action to save her citizens from the criminal abuses of Ugandan security organs by issuing a travel advisory against Rwandans crossing to Uganda, Kampala was shocked. Realizing that Ugandans, who were about to incur serious losses in business and trade opportunities, would demand explanations, the regime trotted out the lie that “Rwanda has closed the border.”
But this categorically is the fault of Museveni and his security organs, and no one else, several observers have pointed out. Observers note that it is Uganda that’s answerable for that problem, and lies such as Softpower’s that ‘Rwanda’s closure of the border was meant to stop the influx of Rwandans into Uganda’ won’t change that fact.
Blithely moving to the next falsehood, Softpower tries to insinuate that Kampala is abiding by the Luanda MoU even as the writer accuses Rwanda of “wantonly kidnapping and killing Ugandans that live in border areas.”
The main problem with the first of these two claims is that Museveni has not fulfilled a single requirement of the MoU.
The Luanda Memorandum of Understanding – which Museveni himself signed alongside his Rwandan counterpart – among other things commits the parties “to refrain from actions conducive to destabilization or subversion in the territory of the other party and neighboring countries, thereby eliminating all factors that may create such perceptions…”
Museveni, as indicated by the activities of RNC that he backs in Uganda (together with harboring other anti-Rwanda terrorist groups like RUD-Urunana), has violated the terms of the MoU. “Openly moreover!” commentators add.
Not only is Uganda free territory for RNC to roam, to set up cells, to mobilize and recruit from Kinyarwanda-speaking communities all over the country, even factions recently broken away from RNC, such as a group called RAC, have been welcomed into the fold of Museveni’s anti-Rwanda proxies.
But his propagandists think people somehow are blind to all these, and other ways Kampala has violated the agreement.
It leaves one shaking their head. Just as do the claims that “Rwandans are kidnapping and killing Ugandans from border areas.” It prompted a reader in Kigali to point out: “this is the classic propaganda strategy where the belief is that if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes truth!”
No Rwandan has kidnapped a Ugandan. It is a lie manufactured to smear Rwanda, and it it is backed by nothing. No Ugandan has stepped forward to claim a relative is missing in Rwanda. As for the individuals who Uganda claims were “killed”, Softpower offers only half-truths about them.
Those that have been shot were violent smugglers that entered Rwanda through illegal paths (panyas) in the middle of the night. That’s against the law, and the record shows Rwandans border authorities repeatedly told Ugandan counterparts to warn their citizens to desist such law breaking. And to use recognized, legal border crossings – during daylight hours.
But Ugandan smugglers – perhaps heeding Museveni’s encouragement last year in May when he said, “if the border is closed people will smuggle because you can’t stop trade!” – failed to listen to the warnings of the Rwandan authorities. Softpower names four individuals that died as: Teo Ndagijimana from Kisoro, Byarushanga Job, Tuhirirwe Bosco and Alex Nyesiga (though it claims “Rwandan security has been shooting dead many Ugandans in Rwanda”).
Anyone that cares about the truth will learn that each of these individuals was inside Rwandan territory, and each of them – on separate occasions – were moving with smuggled goods in the night through porous crossings. Also, when one turns to non-propaganda news sources it will be learnt each of these smugglers turned violent when asked to stop.
“What else is a member of security teams to do when attacked by someone resisting a lawful order to stop, but instead attacks with a machete or spear?” wondered a Rwandan border official. “What one does is shoot to defend himself!”
In fact that is the point Rwandan Foreign Minister was making, which Softpower distorts.
Our border source continued: “Rwandan security patrols only shot those Ugandan smugglers, each that also was transporting marijuana, kanyanga (crude waragi), or other illegal substances, who turned violent. Otherwise smugglers that comply with orders to stop are arrested, sentenced, and after jail are taken back to Uganda.”
Softpower also fails to report that porous routes between the two countries have been used by terrorist groups such as RUD-Urunana who last year attacked Kinigi, northern Rwanda, killing 14 civilians and injuring many. After Rwandan security forces foiled the attack, killing 19 and capturing five, the four that managed to escape fled to Uganda.
They went to Kisoro where their commander, Gavana, is a frequent guest of Uganda’s Minister for Regional Cooperation, Philemon Mateke.
Determined to repeat the most discredited falsehoods, Softpower then descends into outright fictions.
Stay tuned for the second installation of this article tomorrow.