By Patience Muvunyi
On January 26, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) celebrated its anniversary for the capture of Kampala in 1986. It marked 33 years with President Museveni at the helm. It is customary that newspapers in Uganda write sponsored articles that highlight the party’s achievements since coming to power and this time was no different.
However, what is rather unusual is how The New Vision, the state newspaper, was deliberate in profiling Kayumba Nyamwasa, the renegade former general now in exile who heads the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) that has declared war on Rwanda. Reading between the lines suggests that either the authorities in Uganda knew that this profiling would incense Rwanda but chose to do it anyways, or they are embarking on a public relations effort to make Uganda’s support for the former general acceptable to us.
Kayumba Nyamwasa is the only assistant district administrator profiled in the piece titled “NRM special district administrator team,” which raises questions about what is so special about him when the newspaper found no need of highlighting other assistants who also served at the time. District administrators were not Kayumba’s colleagues since he was junior to them. In other words, there are other such colleagues of theirs they could have profiled; moreover, these who were omitted are Ugandans. Instead, efforts were made to trace an obscure assistant – who is not even a Ugandan – but who also happens to be in exile and has declared war on his own country.
It is the classic case of trying to conceal a fake note among a pile of real currency. By lumping Kayumba (the fake note) in a group he does not belong to (the cash bundle) the aim was to nostalgically talk about Kayumba while using the rest as camouflage. It’s also akin to money laundering. What interest do the Ugandan authorities have in laundering Kayumba Nyamwasa?
The answer seems to be that they want to make him acceptable to Ugandans. The shared scheme between the RNC and Museveni’s government to destabilise Rwanda requires that someone acceptable to Ugandans is found with whom to drive a wedge between the people of the two countries.
This explains why the state media is profiling Kayumba Nyamwasa on Uganda’s NRM liberation day and why they speak about him as someone who is really missed as an NRM cadre. Indeed, one wonders whether it is a recruitment overture intended to rehire their “loved cadre.”
In this relationship, Frank Ntwari, Kayumba’s brother-in-law, has played the role of go-between, frequently shuttling from South Africa, where both reside, to Kampala running errands between Kayumba and the Ugandan leadership, including planning and coordinating coalition meetings with the FDLR and other anti-Rwanda groups.
Inciting Ugandans against Rwanda
For more than a year now, the Ugandan authorities have intensified their scheme to destabilise Rwanda, targeting ordinary Rwandans for harassment, torture, and deportation. They have in addition gradually stepped up their efforts to incite Ugandans against their brothers and sisters in Rwanda.
The introduction of Kayumba Nyamwasa as someone Ugandans should hold in esteem is the next logical step: To make the Ugandan authorities support of his criminal scheme acceptable to Ugandans in order to further their shared cause of destabilising his home country, Rwanda.
The article in the New Vision has further opened the lid on the conflict between Rwanda and Uganda by introducing another aspect that suggests that the latter has formally began the process of seeking popular support for Kayumba Nyamwasa and his Rwanda National Congress.
It should not surprise anyone that the laundering of Kayumba Nyamwasa’s image will be matched with the intensification of the harassment of Rwandans, by particularly targeting those who reject entreaties to join the effort to destabilise their country, which has been the pattern for more than a year now.
As national and regional attention was on the NRM as it celebrated its anniversary, it chose to launder Kayumba Nyamwasa as someone they are proud to associate with and one they remember nostalgically. Most of the real special district administrators they profiled in order to conceal this Kayumba Nyamwasa whitewash campaign are no longer alive. However, the NRM does not have to talk about Kayumba as if he is unavailable, unemployed, and ready and willing for hire to continue serving them.