By Jean Gatare
A Uganda online news outlet, Nile Post, has published what’s termed “a dangerously misleading article that deliberately misquotes the Rwandan head of state.” Nile Post issues a claim, supported by no facts, that says “President Kagame has blamed Kenya and Uganda for long cargo delays” and that the said delays were caused by mandatory testing of COVID-19 of truck drivers.
“When the Rwandan President’s words are examined inside out, at no time did he mention that the testing of truck drivers was a problem for Rwanda,” a national media analyst said, wondering where Nile Post had gotten it’s words from. “It is really puzzling why people would publish such articles, but this being the age of ‘fake stories in fake media’ such as Uganda’s various intelligence services-sponsored blogs, it is little surprise that an obscure outlet like Nile Post can publish such allegations,” added the analyst.
When the global Covid-19 pandemic hit the East African region, several proposals were put on the table to control infections from various possible sources, and truck drivers were no exception. According to our source, some countries proposed “relays” between truck drivers; others proposed escorting and isolating truck drivers, but testing was never in contention.
Also the Rwandan president stated it clearly that, “COVID-19 has caused serious problems, to all humanity,” but never once did he single out any country – the record will show.
Regular readers of Ugandan websites have noticed over the past few years that a number of them are dedicated to publishing anti-Rwanda misinformation, and to smear and slander Kigali. Information that has long been gathered is that there is a campaign of propaganda and misinformation that is mainly sponsored by Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence CMI, which is run by the organ’s deputy director in charge of counterterrorism, Brig. CK Asiimwe.
“Also by running the sensationalist title that the President of Rwanda blamed Uganda and Kenya for cargo delays, it not only was in line with Kampala’s propaganda aims, it also serves as click bait for Nile Post,” a media expert observed. In today’s world whereby hundreds of news sources and blogs compete for readership, unethical media houses twist and distort issues in desperate attempts to get as many clicks as possible. “A title like Nile Post’s is pure click bait – completely devoid of fact,” said the media observer.
The website, run by one Kiggundu Idris – also known to take money from Brig. Asiimwe of CMI – also claims that Rwanda was “the first country to close its borders as a response to the Covid-19 outbreak.” Worldwide, the standard response was to close borders to passengers while allowing cargo. “But even when Rwanda did close her borders, I was within globally accepted standards of precaution against the spreading of the pandemic, and it was communicated to other states well in advance,” Rwandan officials explained.
The article further pushes claims revealed to be misinformation such as that “transport to Burundi and Congo suffered as a result of Covid-19 measures in Rwanda.” An examination of the facts will establish that that one time under former president Nkurunziza, it was Burundi that refused its own cargo. “Trucks from Mombasa to Bujumbura were refused entry by Burundian authorities,” clearing agents said.
Burundian authorities themselves, some time in April “‘ decreed that no cargo was allowed entry from Rwanda, even though it was Burundi’s own goods in transit, Rwandan media reports said. Shortly afterwards, however, the officials of Nkurunziza realized they were hurting only themselves, and opened the borders to their own goods,” remarked one border official.