Junior minister’s claims that Rwanda “harassed Ugandan businessmen” can’t stand simplest scrutiny
By Rutore Samugabo
Uganda’s State Minister of Finance in charge of Planning David Bahati has been repeating allegations that imply there is “harassment of Ugandan businessmen by Rwandan authorities” at Katuna. Bahati has gone ahead to claim that the foreign ministers of Uganda and Rwanda will be “sitting to find lasting solutions to the instability at the Katuna border”.
Chimpreports, a favorite conduit of Museveni regime talking points, wrote that Bahati was speaking at the thanksgiving of one businessman Bernard Nzeirwe when he (Bahati) said the foreign ministers of both countries would meet over the supposed “harassment of Ugandan businessmen in Rwanda”.
These statements prompted analysts to express doubts about Bahati’s allegations. There have been no reports, either in the Ugandan or regional media, of any citizen of Uganda being unlawfully arrested in Rwanda, abducted or harassed. The Ugandan High Commission in Kigali has brought no such issue to public notice.
The next problem with the story of Bahati, which the Mayor of Katuna Town Council Nelson Nshangabasheija also repeated, is that the examples they gave were of two moneychangers – whom they admitted were arrested, but released “after a few days”.
The mayor said the “most recent victim” was one Denis Karyamagwaki who was “arrested on the Rwandan border side on 22 December 2018, before being released days later”. Another Ugandan arrested according to the allegations was Justus Tweyogere, “some time back by Rwandan security”.
People were left wondering: how can it be defined as harassment for one to be arrested and released, yet he quietly goes back home and says nothing, whether through the media, or through his government’s representatives?
It becomes even fishier “when the story is coming out more than a month after the alleged incident,” observed a Rwandan that read of it. “Why is Bahati saying this now?”
An influential Rwandan Twitter account @KalindaMwene said, in part, “those kinds of complaints, whether true or not, more likely are invented to create a sort of moral equivalence with the systemic abuse they are inflicting on Rwandans.”
Several media reports continue to detail numerous examples of how Ugandan security forces, more specifically CMI, have launched a campaign of arrests, abductions, torture and all kinds of harassment of Rwandans travelling to Uganda, but whom they never prove a crime against.
“To see Bahati trying – whether indirectly or not – to compare the terrible things that have happened to Rwandans to the arrest of two Ugandan moneychangers makes me so angry!” said a Rwandan lady that requested anonymity to speak freely. “How do we even know those moneychangers were not involved in real crime!” she asked.
The Foreign Minister of Rwanda Richard Sezibera seemed to be unaware however of the “meeting between foreign ministers” that Bahati talked of. That was evident in a tweet he wrote. Sezibera sent it out in response to a Ugandan Twitter account, @CommandPostUG after it alleged, “Minister Bahati Decries Torture, Maiming of Ugandan businessmen by Rwanda security operatives at Katuna Border.”
It was a wild allegation by an obscure account, quoting things that not even Bahati had said. Not even the mayor. Yet, more likely to clear the air, Minister Sezibera challenged it: “Please send details through official channels. Happy to follow up, find out if this is true and let everyone know of results thereof and actions taken.”
An analyst said that that particular account, @CommandPostUG probably is the several Uganda regime misinformation outlets “flooding the social sphere with lies to tarnish Rwanda. Or to create false equivalences between the criminal activities of Ugandan operatives with Rwanda’s, though the latter have never done a wrong thing to a Ugandan,” said an observer.
“One doubts whether they can respond to Sezibera’s challenge and produce proof of anything they are saying,” added the observer.
According to yet more analysts, Kampala could be trying to create a smokescreen to divert attention from the recent arrests of two top FDLR bigwigs, arrested by DR Congo as they were coming from Uganda “for briefing”.
The fact that it is only now that a Ugandan official is making unproven allegations of “harassment of Ugandans in Rwanda” could be a calculated move “to shift the conversation away from how senior FDLR people were apprehended at Bunagana while coming from a trip to Kampala”.
It is obvious Kampala is jittery that the representatives of the terrorist groups have been spilling the beans about their ties to the Kampala regime in a very big way!