THE NEW TIMES 24 FEB 2020
After the Gatuna Quadripartite Summit on Friday, February 21, President Museveni met with a thin crowd of Ugandan border residents who had been pressuring him all along to take the Angola MoU seriously so that the common border with Rwanda could be opened and their economy and livelihoods – which have been devastated as a consequence of Uganda’s decision to work with groups bent on destabilizing Rwanda – back on their feet. Rather than tell them the truth that delays on his part in implementing the MoU is the reason border operations remain moribund, Museveni, as usual, chose to distort and deflect.
Such distortion of facts is extremely unhelpful. It is diversionary and only continues to fuel the problem. His false claims also fail completely to address his role in continuing to fuel the crisis, showing that he is unready to do his part to resolve it.
“The origin of the problem is that these people we helped when they had problems, once they returned home they started to have divisions within them. Others fled to South Africa and Rwanda thinks they are in Uganda,” he told the small crowd that seemed unimpressed with his distortions of fact, with analysis that selectively and conveniently starts the Rwanda-Uganda story from the middle rather than from its very beginning in Luwero and the shoulders by which he was carried to power. It is the sort of selective memory and the deliberate overlooking of what Museveni’s government is right now doing to ordinary innocent Rwandans that is certainly unbefitting of a head of state.
But Museveni wasn’t done with his characteristic dishonesty, “My sympathies go out to the citizens of Uganda and Rwanda that have been affected by the closure of the Katuna border. I call upon you to be patient as we pursue a lasting solution.
I am very optimistic that the truth will come out because the NRM government stands for the truth,” he later claimed on Twitter, with the unbelievable pretence, given the kind of abuse his security agents are right now inflicting on Rwandans unfortunate enough to fall into their hands, that he cares about Rwandans’ well-being. In fact, Museveni hoped – as he has always dreamt – to draw a wedge between Rwandans and their leadership through such fake sympathy. Rwandans do not need Museveni’s sympathy; they are doing just fine going about their daily lives and focussed on building their country.
It also unbelievable that the man whose security agents are abducting, illegally jailing and horribly torturing innocent Rwandans in his secret detention centres – many into insanity and death, or cruelly separating nursing mothers from their infants should pretend to care for Rwandans outside his circle of would-be quislings and the genocidaire remnants coordinated on his behalf by his Minister for Rwanda destabilisation campaign, Phillemon Msteke.
His seeming inability to recognise this is in itself part of the problem.
The Ugandan president Museveni has refused to mind his own business. Instead, for the past twenty-six years, he has persistently tried to interject himself into Rwanda’s internal affairs as if he had a prerogative to extend his writ across his southern border into how we govern ourselves.
Museveni should speak only for Ugandans and leave the welfare of Rwandans to their own leadership.
His efforts to sow divisions in Rwanda are the very root cause of the crisis in Rwanda-Uganda relations. It is an open secret that Museveni believed that any support his government gave the RPF in its liberation war would be reciprocated by the new RPF-led government allowing his close family to loot Rwanda the way they have done to their country after the NRA war of liberation in Uganda in which he seems to have forgotten the key role Rwandans played. It is baffling that Museveni continues to compare his support to the RPF struggle – the arms and ammunition Rwandans took with them when they launched the journey to liberate their country and allowing Ugandan territory to be used as a supply corridor to pass weapons and medicine from Mombasa – with the sacrifice of actual Rwandan blood that was shed as they carried him on their backs to the highest office in the land. If anything, those who sacrificed with their own blood should have much greater claims on him than he does on them when his own support to them, important as it was, was no more than logistical.
If Museveni, rather than acknowledging with gratitude Rwandan sacrifices of their youth’s blood for Uganda’s liberation and his own installation in power, is instead abducting, sequestering in secret dungeons and viciously torturing their compatriots – some into insanity and death, then that’s the real height of ingratitude. Museveni continues to upend historical reality to push this false narrative that it is Rwandans who lack gratitude, and are so ungracious as to rebuff what he considers his prerogative to dictate to them on how they should run their country to his advantage. This misplaced feeling of entitlement is the basis of his deeply-felt resentment and the associated decision to destabilize Rwanda by trying to sow divisions and encouraging any disgruntled individuals among the country’s political and military circles to flee promising them a safe haven and support against their own country.
Museveni has been on a two-decades long campaign to openly recruit Rwandan officials in the hope the leadership would become divided and crumble.
He had already recruited Kayumba Nyamwasa and Patrick Karegeya – the founders of the RNC – as his agents when they were still in Uganda before they moved to key functions in liberated Rwanda. Since the time he was the Assistant Resident District Coordinator (RDC) of Gulu in the late 1980s, Kayumba’s allegiance and loyalty have always remained with Museveni, even when he became the Chief of Staff in Rwanda a decade later. Similarly, Museveni used to communicate directly to Karegeya when he was the chief of external intelligence, as if he was still serving him at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence. Both were received by top Ugandan officials at the border when they fled from Rwandan justice after it became obvious their double agent roles had become unmasked and they would have to answer to their treasonous transgressions against Rwanda’s state security in the service of a foreign head of state.
After his flight in November 2007, Karegeya was met at the Rwempasha border by Leopold Kyanda, at the time a colonel and CMI head. Uganda was at that very time hosting the Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Nations (CHOGM) and, fearing a potential diplomatic crisis from playing host to a fugitive, kept him away from Kampala (in Rubare, then Mbarara) before facilitating his flight to South Africa once CHOGM was over. Similarly, when Kayumba fled on February 25, 2010, he was met by two jeeps carrying Gen Salim Saleh, Museveni’s half brother, and the then Inspector General of Uganda Police Gen Kale Kayihura. The two took him to Museveni for a briefing meeting and days later, he was facilitated to travel to to settle in South Africa.
Museveni’s campaign to create double agents to do his bidding by weakening the government in Rwanda has produced the opposite effect. As the corrupt officials who were ready to betray their country were weeded out and left, those loyal and committed to it replaced them. Museveni was, in fact, unwittingly helping to strengthen the Rwandan leadership even as he thought he was weakening it.
Some chauvinist Ugandans are angry at what they see as a “small” neighbour standing up to their own “big” country. They forget, however, that while Rwanda may be small in geographical size, it is far from small in spirit and determination. Its strength is founded on a centuries-old sense of patriotism and, ironically, Museveni’s own – unwitting help in removing his favourite “bean weevils” from the Rwandan system by enticing them away.
The locals that Museveni lied to that Rwanda is mistaken to think its enemies are in Uganda rather than in South Africa, know better. Every day they see CMI working with RNC officials to recruit Rwandans into their terror organization, detaining, jailing in secret dungeons and torturing those who refuse to betray their country. It is guaranteed these locals will persist in pressuring him to implement the Luanda MoU to the letter without resort to more lies to deflect from his central role in their impoverishment.
As for his claim that “the truth will come out,” it was the late President Milton A. Obote who, after years of observing him at work, concluded that “Museveni tells the truth only by accident.” If Museveni didn’t tell the truth by accident only, it would be obvious to him by now that distortions like the ones he uttered in Kabale are unhelpful in efforts to normalize relations. They only serve to deepen the crisis.