By Alex Muhumuza
The whole of Thursday 19, Ugandan State Minister for Regional Cooperation Philemon Mateke was trying, with the help of all Kampala’s propaganda media, to fool the public that he has nothing to do with FDLR-Urunana attacks in Kinigi, Musanze district, in October this year. However, it wasn’t the first time Mateke has been involved with groups bent on destabilizing Rwanda.
In a letter published purporting “to clear his character” and widely quoted in Daily Monitor, Chimpreports, Watchdoguganda and others, he claimed Rwanda is attacking him. But it was an unhinged rant more indicative of the man’s guilt than anything else. Mateke was abusing Rwanda, claiming: “Rwanda wants to eliminate him”. Why Rwanda would want to eliminate an old geezer in the sunset of his life beats reason! Mateke must also ask himself why it is him, among all Ugandan officials, that was the purported target of the “character assassination” and the plot of elimination.
Mateke’s age showed in his letter that was more the whining of an old man caught red-handed. It followed Rwandan Minister Olivier Nduhungirehe’s thoroughly exposing Mateke and his links to terrorists. That was during last Friday’s meeting in Entebbe of the Ad-hoc Committee of Rwandan and Ugandan officials on implementation of the Luanda MoU.
The most telltale sign was that Mateke did not address the evidence that showed he was in touch with FDLR-RUD-Urunana terrorists when the latter attacked Kinigi this October, massacring 14 people and injuring many others. Evidence pinning Mateke was collected when Rwandan security forces rapidly overpowered, killed most of the attackers and captured five alive. Only three managed to escape.
Material evidence, including phone handsets, and information from the captured terrorists directly implicated the Ugandan minister despite repeated denials that he (on behalf of President Museveni) works with anti-Rwanda groups.
Mateke says he is not a Rwandan who is concerned with its internal affairs. According to reliable sources, though Mateke pretends he is a Mufumbira he in fact is Rwandan born. He only moved across the border from Burera to Bufumbira with his parents while still a teenager. He maintained his ties to Rwanda as far back as the “Parmehutu” years of Gregoire Kayibanda in the 1960s, on throughout the Habyarimana regime from the 1970s to the genocide in 1994.
In fact, Museveni defeated Obote at a time Mateke was in the UPC government, then the latter simply slipped across the border into Rwanda. Once within Rwandan territory he received a warm welcome from Habyarimana, who paid all his living expenses.
When Museveni brought Mateke back into the fold, he was already set in his plot to destabilize Rwanda, events indicate. “Mateke is a natural FDLR agent in the Museveni regime,” knowledgeable sources assert.
Going by his past, it cannot be surprising that Mateke was colluding with the extremist governments of Habyarimana right from the 1970s in its anti-Tutsi genocidal ideology (which even very many Hutu people opposed). Eyewitnesses have brought to light how, while teaching at Mutorere Secondary School in Kisoro, Mateke was involved in a plot to exterminate all the Tutsi students. Mateke has been a closet “Hutu Power” ideologue all his adult life.
According to a blog site specializing in Kisoro issues, Theinspiration20, those that were in Mutorere as students can testify to that. “Mateke was an expert in identifying Rwandese for arrest, torture and killing, and his main victims were Tutsi refugees in Uganda,” writes Theinspiration20, adding “he never spared even Bahima for ‘looking Tutsi’”.
But a week after Nduhungirehe, who led the Rwandan delegation to the Ad-hoc Committee meeting exposed Mateke, showing how the terrorists that killed innocent civilians in Kinigi were in phone contact with him through the retrieved handsets, Mateke is hitting the roof.
The Ugandan propagandist media is colluding with him, publishing headlines like: “Rwanda wants to kill me.” But the facts against Mateke are damning. And they are not in isolation. These facts are the ones he should address rather than coming up with diversionary stories meant to elicit sympathy that should go to the victims of his sponsored attackers in Kinigi.
Last year on 14 and 15 December, Mateke under the instructions of Museveni, facilitated a meeting that brought together top FDLR and RNC officials, which took place at the Kampala Serena Hotel. The agenda was to better coordinate activities between the two “to combine their strength for better outcomes”.
Shockingly for Mateke and his boss, DRC authorities at the Bunagana Border arrested the two FDLR officials: LaForge Fils Bazeye its spokesperson and Theophile Abega, the intelligence chief. After Congolese authorities deported the two to Kigali they implicated Uganda as being completely complicit in their activities.
Interestingly, one of the revelations from the meeting in Kampala was that as FDLR was hesitant to enter a coalition with the RNC which they were not trusting, it was Mateke who reassured them referring to Habyarimana, “I would not betray you, even Habyarimana trusted me,” Mateke tried to convince the terrorists, before adding that after all it was Museveni’s condition that the two forces work together to give the impression that a “multi ethnic” front was being frontend against Kigali and that it would receive positive reception in the international community despite the links of both the FDLR and the RNC to acts of terror and genocide.
Laughably Chimpreports – a propaganda tool under the control of Col. CK Asiimwe, Ugandan Military Intelligence (CMI) chief of counterterrorism – claims Mateke rarely travels to his hometown of Kisoro “because he is in fear of his life”. But eyewitnesses have regularly seen him there.
They are people such as family members of Rwandan victims of Ugandan security agencies. Just this October 30, Mateke had a direct hand in persecution of 12 Rwandan nationals that had been moved from CMI – where they had been in illegal detention.
They had been transported to Kisoro to face a sham kangaroo court. According to family members of the Rwandans, who had gone to see them thinking they would be released; they were shocked to see Mateke enter. People wondered what “a whole minister” was doing in such an obscure court.
Mateke proceeded to engage the magistrate and the state attorney “for a long time.” The magistrate then pronounced a sentence of 18 months imprisonment. Not only is Mateke very free to move to Kisoro or anywhere else, he has all the freedom to perpetrate evil against even the most innocent people. Just as long at they are Rwandan nationals, relatives of victims testify.