HomeOp-edThe Independent magazine publishes an anti-Rwanda hit job, but ends up only...

The Independent magazine publishes an anti-Rwanda hit job, but ends up only exposing Uganda

By Alex Muhumuza

Uganda claims it’s deploying soldiers on the Rwandan border “to prevent illegal crossing by Rwandans into Uganda.” They probably need to be reminded they are the ones that usually do illegal things, such as UPDF Pt. Bakulu Muhuba (center), who was handed back to Uganda by Rwandan authorities earlier this year.

The Independent magazine of Uganda has Tuesday this week published a quite laughable article that claims, “Ugandan security has been deployed at the borders” – which is supposedly to curb Rwandans from crossing to Uganda. The magazine alleges that this is because Rwandans are smuggling cattle to Uganda “some which may have foot and mouth disease”, or that “Rwandans are smuggling waragi”, or that “they bring Covid-19”, and so on.

The article, written in the mold of Ugandan Military Intelligence (CMI) propaganda, looks calculated to insult Rwanda, and Rwandans. “Pay no attention to childish allegations such as that Rwandan nationals risk their lives in activities that include smuggling waragi moonshine however,” remarked a Kigali social media account. “What is clear is that the ‘border closure’ issue is what really is hurting them.”

Indeed the Independent goes ahead to claim: “Rwanda closed its borders following an advisory by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame to his nationals against travelling to Uganda, saying their safety is not guaranteed. Kagame accused Ugandan authorities of abducting Rwandan citizens and locking them up in non-designated areas.”

This is a typical example of a lie by omission of facts.

When Rwanda advised its citizens in early 2019 against crossing to Uganda because their safety and security couldn’t be guaranteed, it wasn’t merely a case of “Rwanda accusing Ugandan authorities.” This was a decision made after Rwanda had repeatedly raised complaints – through diplomatic channels – about repeated, numerous incidents of Ugandan security organs harassing, arbitrarily arresting, illegally detaining, torturing, or killing Rwandan citizens. Rwanda produced proof of this through diplomatic notes verbale, describing incidents, dates, and the fact no Rwandan was ever accorded due process for whatever accusations Ugandan security forces arbitrarily arrested them.

Another complaint, which the Independent alludes to in the same mendacious way of saying something while omitting important facts, was that Uganda was working with negative groups like RNC, facilitating them, recruiting for them, and so on, all to destabilize Rwanda. Kigali showed proof of everything it said. Ugandan authorities, namely the foreign affairs ministry, simply ignored the complaints of Kigali. That was when the latter made its decision to warn her citizens against travel to Uganda.

With the quick drying up of Rwandan trade however, suddenly a lot of businesses on the Ugandan side were suffering serious losses. After about six months Ugandans were decrying their administration as they felt the losses all the way from Katuna to the Kikuubo trading area in Kampala. Matters were so bad that Museveni himself decided to advise Ugandans to begin smuggling their merchandise into Rwanda.

This is just one proof that the claims of Ugandan propagandist media, that “Rwandans are the ones suffering”, are pure fiction.

“When did President Kagame ever ask Rwandans to smuggle!” asked a Facebook account.  

Other commentators are advising that it would serve Uganda much better if it deployed its troops to stop Ugandan organized smugglers of kanyanga, mukorogo products, drugs, and other dangerous, illegal substances prohibited in Rwanda.

“Ugandan authorities need to discourage poor Ugandans from using porous routes attempting to smuggle stuff into Rwanda,” a Rwandan border official said earlier this year, adding, “They should teach their citizens the dangers of such criminal practices, and completely outlaw them.”

The Independent’s list of falsehoods includes one that more than 20 illegal entrants (meaning Rwandans) are intercepted by security and deported at Mirama Hills in Ntungamo District up to Ishasha in Kanungu District. This story of “illegal immigrants” as an excuse to harass Rwandan nationals has become very old.

Ugandan security forces, most notably CMI have been arbitrarily arresting Rwandans on false pretexts (one of the main reasons Rwanda advised them against crossing to Uganda) for a number of years. CMI operatives have perfected the habit of throwing innocent Rwandans into dungeons after robbing them of money and property, then subjecting them to torture. Afterwards, very many are dumped at the borders.

Now the Independent has been coached, to add insult to the victims’ injury, that they are wrongdoers!

The article however becomes outright ludicrous with claims that Ugandan security forces are “taking precautions against Rwandans spreading Covid-19 to Uganda.”

Social media accounts in Kigali had a good laugh when they saw that. Rwanda has been acknowledged worldwide for its anti-Covid-19 measures that have been some of the most rigorous anywhere – including a vaccination campaign that has placed Rwanda among the very few that have already fully vaccinated over 10 percent, or over, of their populations.

“Funny that so-called journalists from Uganda, which can’t even provide protective equipment for its doctors, let alone oxygen for its hospitals, are writing that Uganda is taking measures against Rwandans taking Covid there!” laughed a commentator.

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