HomeOp-edWhat major regional media are too cautious to say: the threat to...

What major regional media are too cautious to say: the threat to regional economic integration emanates entirely from Kampala

By Alex Muhumuza

Ugandan president Museveni, his constant meddling in the affairs of neighboring countries poses a big problem for regional integration in trade. The port of Mombasa for instance has seen loss of business because of that.

The eloquent headline in the current issue of The East African newspaper proclaims: “Dar’s turn to eat Mombasa’s lunch as Rwanda looks south for trade across borders.”

In the article the newspaper, which always maintain a neutral stance in its reporting, examines the reasons why Rwanda is looking to establish Dar as the port of choice for its exports and imports. Focusing on the recent visit to Rwanda of Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu, the paper states that Rwanda and Tanzania have moved to reshape East Africa’s trade and logistics, with Rwanda being the latest country to divert its cargo traffic from Mombasa to Dar.

These are facts.

Equally factual is that Rwanda has only ever had good relations with Kenya but its only considering moving most of its commerce from Mombasa because of Ugandan acts. In its article, The East African finds it has to draw attention to the activities of Ugandan ruler Museveni that indeed are a major reason why the Kenyan port potentially stands to completely lose out on Rwandan business.

The unvarnished truth is that acts of economic sabotage against Rwanda by the Kampala regime are responsible for Rwanda looking for alternative routes for its trade and commerce.

Some of Rwanda’s exports and imports have been by the Tanzanian route, the so-called Central Corridor. But thanks to Museveni’s determination to sabotage Rwandan commerce – and by extension the Rwandan economy – Kenya stands to lose much more Rwandan business, a fact that’s causing a lot of frustration in Nairobi, and Mombasa.

Rwanda embarked on finding alternative ways to move its goods while avoiding Ugandan territory when in August 2017, for no reason at all, authorities in Kampala impounded three sealed tankers carrying 78,000 litres of pasteurized milk from Inyange Industries in Kigali enroute to Brookside Diary in Kenya. The tankers were later released, but the milk had already gone bad. The uncouth agents of the Kampala regime just violated free trade laws with their usual sense of impunity.

When the following year, in August 2018 Ugandan authorities at Katuna impounded two trucks full of minerals – 40 tonnes of tantalum and tin valued at US$ 750,000 – belonging to a private Rwandan firm and held them for two months on claims that they were transporting the minerals on forged certificates, that was the last straw for Kigali. After the Ugandans released the trucks two months later, there was no more question of Rwandan trade transiting through Uganda. The claims of forgery were just an absurd excuse to perpetrate Kampala’s continued sabotage of Rwandan business.

Museveni’s policy of economic sabotage of Rwanda in fact stems from the Ugandan ruler’s long term obsessions with imposing a puppet government in Kigali, out of a strange sense of entitlement of wanting to rule Rwanda from Kampala. When Rwanda said no to such meddling right from the Nineties, asserting its sovereignty and demanding respect and normal bilateral relations, Museveni embarked on a series of belligerent acts to undermine the Rwandan administration.

First this involved cultivating moles in positions of power, such as Kayumba Nyamwasa who, when his traitorous schemes in service to Museveni were discovered, escaped to exile in South Africa via Uganda with the help of Kampala. And while in exile Nyamwasa would, with the connivance of Kampala security services, form the RNC – a terrorist group whose goal was violent insurrection in Rwanda.

Kampala then stepped up its anti-Rwanda hostility, with its security agencies, mainly the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, CMI, with incessant harassment of ordinary Rwandan nationals through arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions, and torture on allegations of spying that the Ugandan authorities never substantiated even in a single incidence. It was all part of the connivance with terrorist groups to destabilize Rwanda, and Rwandans. But in the process Museveni proved he not only was anti-trade, he was anti-freedom of movement. So Rwanda issued its advisory to her citizens to avoid crossing to Uganda, which they heeded.

Observers remark its high time Kenya realized that with the Ugandan ruler now having taken to meddling into the affairs of Kenya, with surreptitious invitations of top Kenyan politicians to secret meetings, no doubt cultivating them as moles. Museveni will bring his habits of sabotage in the process and the sooner Kenya realizes that the better.

The Ugandan regime already is a problem for Kenya with its sabotage that’s threatens to cost Mombasa more Rwandan business. Also Uganda already has caused serious economic losses to Kenya after Kampala reneged on constructing its part of the Northern Corridor railway project – the proposed 1500km SGR from Mombasa to Kigali which was expected to be completed by 2018. Work stalled after Kenya built its part of the line from Mombasa to Naivasha, only to realize that Uganda was doing nothing from its side.      

These only are a few of the facts the rest of the region needs to wake up to.     

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