By Alain Mucyo
Uganda’s state minister for regional cooperation Philemon Mateke on Thursday evening sent out a virulent tweet that only showed the world his true colors.
In the tweet, Mateke called the Rwandan leadership “devils”, and equated it to Nazi Germany which committed the Genocide of the Jews. “I warned colleagues that nothing good comes from signing a pact with the devil…appeasement didn’t work for Chamberlain in 1938, and it won’t work for us,” Mateke said referring to Rwanda.
The tweet immediately drew public condemnation. But those who know the man, or that have closely monitored the situation between the two countries, know how much Mateke has been a central figure in the strained relations. The Rwanda-born Mateke who throughout his life has managed to hoodwink Ugandans (those that do not know him well) that he is a “Mufumbira” in fact was an old friend of Habyarimana.
Also the 80-year old, born in Burera District has always been known for his deep-seated hatred for Rwanda’s current leadership. This is not surprising since the RPF is the one that liberated Rwanda from the divisive ideologies Mateke is fighting tooth and nail to bring back, according to TheInspiration20 – a blog site specializing in Kisoro issues.
Philemon Mateke’s outburst in the tweet follows another one late last year when he abused the Rwandan delegation to Kampala after it had exposed his links to terrorists that attacked Rwanda in Kinigi last year, killed 14 civilians and injured a number of others. Claiming “innocence”, Mateke abused the leader of the Rwandan delegation, Minister Olivier Nduhungirehe, calling him among other things an “Internet troll”.
But neither Mateke nor the Ugandan administration could refute the facts the Rwandan delegation had exposed, with ample evidence.
During the meetings of the Ad-Hoc Committee on implementation of the Angola MoU, Mateke’s name has cropped up at almost every turn.
Accounts from former FDLR militia have pointed to Mateke’s frantic effort to sponsor terror on Rwanda. Also he has been heard on numerous occasions saying he will never rest until the Kigali government is toppled.
According to those in the know such ideology is the main reason Mateke’s boss the president of Uganda – who knew his background, and ethnic extremism very well – appointed him minister. Under that guise, Mateke’s real brief was to coordinate efforts to destabilize Rwanda.
At the Kampala meeting, Rwanda pinpointed Mateke. It pinned him on coordinating the attack in villages of Kinigi in Musanze District last year, which Rwandan security forces rapidly quelled, killing most of the attackers and capturing five of them alive, with three escaping back to Uganda from where they had attacked. The attack took place on the night of October 3 and was orchestrated by RUD-Urunana, a splinter group from FDLR.
Phone records from the terrorists who were captured during the attack later pointed to the fact that they were constantly in touch with Mateke as the terror event was underway. Confessions from the five attackers that were captured too pinned Mateke.
Since then it has also been revealed that commanders of anti-Rwanda rebel groups have found a home in Mateke’s countryside house, where they stay whenever they are in Kisoro. This is according to numerous reliable sources in the area.
The same Mateke in 2018 chaired a meeting on behalf of his boss at Kampala Serena Hotel in which he brought together leaders of RNC of Kayumba Nyamwasa and FDLR, and urged them about “the benefits of a closer partnership”.
During the meeting, RNC was represented by Kayumba’s brother-in-law Frank Ntwari while FDLR was represented by LaForge-Fils Bazeye, also known as Ignace Nkaka, the then spokesperson of the terror outfit; and Jean Pierre Nsekanabo (Theophile Abega), who was the head of intelligence.
But Bazeye and Abega were intercepted by DR Congo border security at Bunagana as they crossed back from Uganda. The duo was extradited to Rwanda, and absolutely spilled the beans on Mateke (and Mateke’s boss), saying everything.
During their arraignment in court mid-last year, the two FDLR men gave a full account of how they left DR Congo for the Kampala meeting. They disclosed that when they crossed into Uganda, they spent a night in Mateke’s Kisoro hotel. From there they were picked and driven to Kampala to meet the RNC under the coordination of Mateke but at the instruction of the Ugandan ruler.
In his Thursday tweet, Mateke says that, “Uganda released Rwandans” (whom he calls criminals).
But why was Uganda holding those Rwandans in the first place; what crime did they commit?, people have been asking. There never was a trial to charge those nine men with anything. They were merely abducted, locked up with no due process and tortured, some close to three years.
There never was a court process. A few were “tried” in a military court, in violation of their civilian rights. Even then, the military prosecutors could mount no case against them. “There was no case; they were just concocting charges against our clients,” said Eron Kiiza the lead lawyer of the Rwandans.
Hundreds of Rwandans remain in Ugandan detention with no due process.
Angry Rwandans were castigating Mateke on social media, pointing out these facts.
Mateke also claims that, “Rwanda shot Ugandans like dogs”. That is in an apparent reference to the Ugandan smuggler that was shot last week after he, together with his accomplices when they tried to fight security patrols using spears. It happened in the night, when the smugglers were intercepted with their drugs and illicit brews.
“He (Mateke) is a shameless old fellow,” a Twitter commentator said. “Before Mateke talks of dead smugglers that were turning violent, he should have picked interest in the plight of Rwandans that continue to languish in dungeons of CMI, ISO and other Ugandan security outfits.
Unlike the smugglers, these Rwandans have committed no offence. Their only “crime” is being Rwandan, it has long been obvious.
Witness accounts say Mateke has closely worked with Rwandan negative forces for over 20 years, starting with the former ALIR (started by the defeated genocidal ex FAR, and Interahamwe militia), which later rebranded itself as FDLR.
In a nutshell, that’s who Uganda’s minister for regional cooperation is.