By Alex Muhumuza
Uganda’s propaganda shills have jumped on the recent remarks of President Kagame in an interview on al Jazeera to once again spew countless lies about what caused the current impasse between the two countries. In the interview President Kagame laid out the facts. The source of problems is Museveni and his government, and their persecution of Rwandan nationals, something for which Kigali did its best to engage Kampala to stop, but to no avail.
Predictably, Commandonepost – one of the several outlets of misinformation controlled by Ugandan Military Intelligence, CMI – has come out to try to stifle the truth. It completely omits mention of the arbitrary arrests, harassment, torture, and other mistreatment of thousands of ordinary Rwandan nationals – including old men, pregnant women, or children – on accusations of “spying.”
Of course the job of Commandonepost is to lie; to repeat, like a mantra, the falsehood that those Rwandans whom CMI has been abducting were “spies for Kigali.”
But they never showed how any of all the people that they abducted, tortured, and even killed was “a spy.” They arbitrarily arrested people like Rene Rutagungira, Emmanuel Rwamucyo, Augustin Rutayisire, and several others and incarcerated them in torture dungeons in Makindye, Mbuya, and elsewhere. But not in one case did CMI show anything to support their accusations of “spying.” That is because the accusations were fabrications.
But like any good propagandists, CMI websites and social media accounts are still repeating the falsehood. They think that repeating a lie a hundred times makes it truth.
The Commandonepost article has done another thing. It has exposed the wishful thinking of the Kampala regime with its headline: “In future when Uganda-Rwanda excellent relations resume, Kagame will have learnt big lessons.”
The CMI propagandists are talking tough, but who closed the border? Is it the one chest thumping with empty rhetoric against President Kagame?
Talk that when “excellent relations resume, Kagame will regret” is even more laughable the closer one examines it.
To Kampala, “excellent relations” only mean, “open the border”, because that is all that interests them. Commandonepost then makes claims about how Rwanda supposedly is suffering.
Yet Museveni’s people are the only people always whining about the border closure issue, so how do they expect this lie to convince anyone?
I want to bet with any Kampala minion to show me a single time when anyone in the Rwandan media has been crying about “border closure.”
One thing all their crying proves is Rwanda indeed took the best measure to protect her citizens against the insolence of Museveni and his security organs.
A dictator to Ugandans, Museveni probably thought he could be a dictator to Rwandans too. CMI had began its harassment and persecution of innocent Rwandans from 2017, and carried on despite Rwanda’s repeated complaints about this behavior. They persecuted Rwandans even as they worked with negative forces, Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC at the forefront, in their long-time plot to destabilize Rwanda.
So on 1 March 2019, Kigali decided to put an end to the mistreatment of its citizens, by issuing the travel advisory against Rwandans crossing to Uganda. Kigali explained to its citizens that this was necessary because their safety and security couldn’t be guaranteed once across the border. Also Rwanda curtailed heavy Ugandan commercial trucks from entering Rwanda.
Almost immediately, Museveni’s propagandists and government officials began to complain that Rwanda was “unfairly cutting off trade.” Former Ugandan state minister for regional cooperation Philemon Mateke threatened to petition the EAC Secretariat on the allegation that Rwanda was doing economic sabotage. But Rwandan officials made the country’s position clear: there could be no freedom of trade without freedom of movement of people.
Museveni’s people had no answer to that.
They had no leg to stand on because the whole region was aware of the harassment they were meting out on Rwandans, in total violation of EAC protocols on freedom of movement of persons, labor, and services.
The criminal acts of Museveni’s intelligence services against Rwandans were indefensible. The Ugandan dictator, when distressed Ugandan traders asked him when he would normalize relations with Rwanda, could only advise Ugandan traders to resort to criminal smuggling.
Commandonepost claims that “Rwanda has shot Ugandan smugglers of cigarettes”, but declines to mention those that suffered such a fate in fact were smugglers that turned violent against security patrols within Rwanda when intercepted with dangerous contraband.
Now, misinformation that “Rwanda is suffering because of the closed border” is all the Ugandan propagandists have.
But you can be sure the one crying most loudly is the one that actually is suffering.
Ugandan business has been worst hit, completely losing the Rwandan market.
Their exports to Rwanda used to fetch Uganda up to US$ 166 million per month, compared to only US$ 24 million worth of Rwandan exports to Uganda. The data on lost Ugandan business to Rwanda moreover excludes losses incurred by other service providers like transporters, healthcare providers, the hospitality sector, and the retail trade, especially in border towns like Katuna, Kisoro, Kabale, and others. In fact Ugandan small traders all the way to Kikuubo trading center in Kampala were crying, not mentioning industrialists like Mukwano, and many others.
CMI propagandists meanwhile think lies will open the border. That can’t work.
The only thing for Uganda to do is fulfill its obligations, and acquiesce to Rwanda’s demands.