By Rutore Samugabo
The statement of Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa on “the Rwanda, Uganda situation”, dated 5 March 2019, can only be characterized as two pages of unmitigated falsehoods.
It is a dishonest piece of writing that, as usual with Kampala officials, aims to tarnish Rwanda leadership with smears (that can’t stand the slightest scrutiny), even as Kutesa couches it in faux flowery language.
“It is false that Uganda hosts any elements fighting Rwanda,” Kutesa begins, adding, “Rwanda knows this very well as it has been a matter of confidential communication at the highest level of the two countries. Uganda does not, and cannot allow anyone to operate from its territory that threatens a neighbor as alleged.”
The facts say the complete opposite. Uganda, with the full knowledge of its President Museveni, not only is allowing a terrorist group – RNC of Kayumba Nyamwasa – to operate from its territory. It fully facilitates RNC in all its subversive activities against Rwanda.
The best publicly known example of this is the 11 December 2017 incident when a group of 46 young Rwandans was intercepted at the Kikagati border post between Uganda and Tanzania.
The immigration authorities noticed that the young Rwandans males were carrying forged Ugandan papers, which aroused suspicion. According to news reports, the (Ugandan) immigration authorities alerted border Police, which arrested them.
Members of the group first stated they were headed to Burundi as part of a church fellowship. Upon closer questioning they confessed they were en-route to RNC training camps in DR Congo. Further questioning revealed it was CMI that had facilitated them with their fake papers. CMI, working with RNC, had recruited the young people from refugee camps with Banyarwanda populations.
Later on President Museveni, during a joint press conference with his Rwandan counterpart, said, “When I met President Kagame in Addis Ababa he gave me some facts which I followed up. A group of Banyarwanda was being recruited through Tanzania and Burundi to go to Congo. They said they were going for church work, but when they were interrogated, it was found the work was not exactly religious. It was something else!”
That “something else” that President Museveni admitted to already was an open secret, one that greatly embarrassed him when it became public. The men were involved in terrorism. In the lead up to the court hearing of the RNC recruits, (former) Police Spokesman Emilian Kayima affirmed: “the 46 men were moving with forged documents and identifications that point to acts of terrorism.”
But despite the confessions from the suspects, on 25 June last year, the magistrate court in Mbarara released 39 of the RNC recruits from prison. The remaining seven were released shortly thereafter.
Who in Uganda has the power to release people charged with a case as serious as terrorism; and releasing them barely a few months in jail, before trial? Also it was revealed that the suspects were set free to continue to their original destination in Southern Kivu, DRC. Only the most powerful could effect such developments.
Further confirmation – if any is needed – that Uganda was a vital member of the RNC recruitment network can be found in the UN Group of Experts Report. The report, published on December 31 last year, details anti-Rwanda rebel recruitment activities, whereby Uganda is very much implicated.
The Ugandan public, meantime, does not have an idea of the extent to which RNC works with Ugandan security agencies, most especially with Brig. Gen. Abel Kandiho and his CMI.
The stories told by Rwandans that have been abducted in Uganda – like Fidele Gatsinzi whom CMI operatives, working together with RNC agents, forced into a vehicle on 22 December 2017; or Damascene Muhawenimana who in December last year suffered a month of torture in a CMI dungeon where he says men that spoke fluent Kinyarwanda seemed in charge of the interrogations – remove any doubts that the RNC has been integrated into Uganda’s security organs.
RNC in fact operates as if it is part of the Uganda state intelligence apparatus.
Gatsinzi, who had gone to visit his son, a student at Mukono Christian University says he recognized one of his abductors as Rugema Kayumba – an RNC operative that’s always busy on Facebook hurling insults at the leadership of Rwanda. Rugema abused Gatsinzi and spat at him, “You think Kampala is Kigali!”, as they abducted him. They tortured him so badly that he cannot walk anymore, moving in a wheelchair.
Such examples show how false another of Kutesa’s claims is: that “it is not true that Uganda arrests, tortures and harasses Rwandans.”
But not only do CMI, or ISO, or others persecute and brutally mistreat Rwandan nationals, they do so in blatant and complete disregard of EAC Common Market laws.
Ever since 2018, for example, over 900 Rwandans have been dumped at the Rwandan side of borders by Ugandan authorities, on accusations that they entered Uganda “illegally.” That is in contravention of EAC laws, which are specific that nationals of a member state are free to move to, or throughout any of the member states. The laws state no one is required to show a visa to enter a member state (just like all the Ugandans in Rwanda haven’t been required to show one). Above all, no one should go to prison on accusations of “illegal entry”.
Yet the prisons of Kisoro, Kabale, Mbarara and others contain hundreds upon hundreds of Rwandans. That is according to eyewitness accounts of several deportees that have done time in those prisons. Rwanda on its part has steadfastly adhered to lawfulness in its dealings with Ugandan nationals.
Kutesa, or any Kampala-regime officials also won’t mention another of Kampala’s anti-Rwanda strategies: a campaign of misinformation, lies and outright propaganda that’s conducted through a multitude of regime-sponsored websites, social media accounts and others. Some of them like “Softpower” and other websites are run by Sarah Kagingo one of the regime’s chief propagandists. Their efforts are supplemented by the Chimpreports website, as well as dozens of Twitter and Facebook accounts.
One of the stories that this propaganda machine has fastened on, like a leech on skin, is that “Rwandan operatives are kidnapping Rwandan refugees”.
This is a CMI-promoted canard that began when Uganda Police – in the days before CMI completely turned it into one of its subsidiaries – handed Joel Mutabazi to Rwandan authorities. Mutabazi was a former Rwandan soldier that was in Kampala as a fugitive wanted for terrorism back home. Uganda Police handed him to its Rwandan counterparts in October 2013. The spokesman of Rwanda Police at the time, Damas Gatare told media that Mutabazi had been transferred as part of standing bilateral cooperation.
“We have Mutabazi in custody following his arrest and handing over by Uganda Police. This was done in keeping with ongoing collaboration between Rwanda and Uganda Police to fight and prevent transnational organized crimes, through Interpol, and the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Framework,” Gatare said.
Mutabazi was shown to the media, looking healthy and unharmed. He had his day in court. In short, the man was not abducted, and when he got to Rwanda he was the beneficiary of due process. In the exchange, Rwanda too handed Uganda certain fugitives wanted by Kampala for different offences – including Shanita Namuyimba, a lady popularly known as Bad Black.
The propagandists of Kampala, working in tandem with those of RNC however keep insisting “Mutabazi was abducted!” Yet even Rene Rutagungira, a Rwandan whom CMI operatives abducted from a Kampala bar in 2017 and jailed him implying he was a “a Kigali agent”, and that he had something to do with alleged “kidnapping of Rwandan refugees” has never been convicted of a thing. They brought him before the General Military Court Martial – thereby further violating his rights as a civilian – but failed to make charges against him stick.
In his so-called statement, Kutesa makes a detour into alleged “terrorism against Ugandans”. “As a country that has been a target of terrorist attacks, with the assassinations of Moslem Sheiks, State Attorney Joan Kagezi, Member of Parliament Ibrahim Abiriga and others, ‘we remain vigilant’”, says Kutesa.
With this dishonest assertion, the Ugandan foreign minister tries to divert attention from his government’s politically motivated assassinations, and to imply that Rwanda was involved. Ugandans however know these assassinations likely are the work of the Special Forces Command (SFC). The weaponry used and the expertise of the assassins, plus Museveni’s theatrics to show up immediately at the scenes of the crimes while taking away key witnesses point to SFC as the culprit.
This regime had been assassinating its own dignitaries. Member of Parliament Robert Kyaguranyi aka Bobi Wine can thank his lucky stars he is alive.
But since by now Rwanda has become the scapegoat for all the failures of Museveni and his increasingly unpopular government, they will foist blame for all their crimes upon Kigali.