By Alex Muhumuza
A couple of tobacco companies in Uganda that are run under the chairmanship of the dubious Rwandan businessman Tribert Rujugiro are in the news, reportedly for contributing in the fight against Coronavirus.
President Museveni is co-owner of Meridian Tobacco Company and Leaf Tobacco and Commodities Company that have donated Ushs 250 million. The donation was handed over to the team assigned to collect donations at the Office of the Prime Minister of Uganda, according to a praise-singing article yesterday, Saturday 11 in Chimpreports – a well-known outlet for Ugandan regime propaganda.
One that is knowledgeable about the current strained relations between Kampala and Kigali, which fellow African states like Angola and DRC have taken the initiative to mediate in efforts to re-normalize, will immediately see that such a “donation” is one more example of Kampala’s lack of commitment to those efforts.
Tribert Rujugiro is a chief financier to Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC – a group that when it was formed publicly declared violent war on Rwanda, and that to date remains committed to its violent agenda. RNC’s head Nyamwasa is a fugitive from justice for acts of terrorism in Rwanda, mainly a series of grenade blasts in public spaces like markets and bus stops that killed 17 people and injured another 400, between 2010 and 2014.
Only in March last year, Uganda’s official government newspaper, The New Vision quoted Rujugiro boasting that if he opted to help the rebels fighting Rwanda, “it would take less than six months to defeat Kagame.”
In the articles of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding, signed in Angola last August by presidents Kagame and Museveni; and in follow-up meetings between both countries’ officials on the Ad-hoc Committee to implement the MoU, one of the main stipulations was that both parties to refrain from acts of destabilization against each other.
Uganda is supposed to have taken steps by now to dismantle RNC networks – as well as FDLR, RUD-Urunana and other anti-Rwanda groups – from its territory.
Yet companies in the name of the chief financier of the biggest anti-Rwanda group of all are openly donating money, ostensibly to assist Ugandans, and in the process getting positive publicity. Informed observers will know the publicity is intended to generate public goodwill, the telltale sign being that it is Chimpreports – a propaganda outlet controlled by Ugandan Military Intelligence, CMI – that “broke the news.”
In the anti-Rwanda agenda run from Kampala, Rujugiro is one of the biggest players.
It has been shown how, when he set up the tobacco processing plant in Uganda’s West Nile District it was with facilitation of Gen. Saleh who, documents from Ugandan companies’ registry showed, personally had been secured a 15 percent stake in the firm. It is said that Saleh, who acts as his older brother’s undercover partner, also looks after the Ugandan ruler’s financial interests in the company.
Yet, even though the plant in Arua indeed is a commercial entity making money, one of its main purposes is as a front for RNC activities in Uganda. It also serves as subterfuge for Rujugiro every time he is in the country, to claim he is there for legitimate business purposes.
Rujugiro – who once was detained in the UK and an electronic leg bracelet fastened on one of his limbs following arrest by London Police acting on a South African arrest warrant for tax evasion – receives treatment worthy visiting high-level dignitaries every time he is in Uganda, according to eyewitness reports.
It has been reported how every time the shadowy businessman – who in 2009 had to pay up to US$ 7 million to the South African exchequer in tax arrears before London Police could release him – lands in Uganda, dark SUVs bristling with security are at the airport to receive him. “The protocol around this man is incredible; top notch!” said a confidential source.
Apparently Rujugiro’s son and other relatives are accorded the same VIP treatment. It has been reported for instance how at the White Castle Hotel in Arua onlookers are floored by the size of the security detail around Richard Rujugiro, and his cousin Claude Ndatinya when the two visit the tobacco plant.
To see how – even after all the efforts that Angola and DRC have expended to help bring normalcy back to relations between Kampala and Kigali – the Ugandan regime flaunts its partnership with a chief RNC financier through acts like receiving “donations to fight COVID-19”, is to see the true position of Museveni, observers point out.
It is as if Kony donated money for some such purpose in another country; if that country had a hostile agenda against Uganda, a reader of Chimpreports’ piece remarked.