Dear Mr Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda
There is a viral video credited to Kigali Today, a media company in your country, Rwanda, making rounds in Uganda.
In the video, you are speaking to high ranking officials in your government about the relations between Uganda and Rwanda. You hold that Rwanda has been offended by Uganda, and you point out several examples. You also say you don’t know of any incident in which Rwanda has provoked or offended Uganda.
Mr President, as you addressed yourself to the ‘problem of Uganda’, you presented yourself as wanting to know what the problem the government of Uganda has with you, or, your government.
You actually told your officials that you ‘begged’ your Ugandan counterpart to at least know what was going wrong and you were ready to correct the situation to mend the relations.
You also accused our President of being a ‘liar’ when you claimed that he had denied knowledge of a businessman called Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, who you say funds Rwanda National Congress and that you had to prove to Mr Museveni that he knew him personally.
I am no spokesman of the government of Uganda. But as a citizen of Uganda, let me tell you free information off the streets of Uganda towns and market places in villages.
Mr President, you said your number one problem with Uganda, is that many Rwandans (you said about 100) are arrested, jailed, tortured, or deported to Rwanda. You are also very disappointed that some Rwandans are not taken to court.
￼Paul Kagame addressing Rwandan leaders last week. In his address, he said ‘he can be killed but not brought down to his knees’.
Mr President, I should salute you that you care so much for the lives of Rwandans, and that extra judicial arrests and subsequent torture alarms you so much!
However, many Ugandans would love to remind you that Uganda has been a home for Rwandans or Banyarwanda for more than a century.
Many are good people and of course like any society, some can break the laws, and should therefore not be let off the hook simply because they are Rwandans.
Certainly, that is not how you also run affairs in Rwanda.
I am not updated with the population of Banyarwanda in Uganda, but I can bet there are more than a million. And if only 100 are in prisons, certainly, there is a reason why. And we should thank God the rest are going about their work happily in Uganda, like the rest of law abiding citizens and residents of this country.
Just imagine this situation. You allege that this country is persecuting Rwandans, but its Constitution created a people of Rwanda origin and recognized their tribe.
Ugandans have lived in Rwanda for similar centuries, has Rwanda even made such a gesture?
Needless to say, if history didn’t turn around the fate of Rwandans in Uganda in the 1990s, Mr President, you would still enjoy the courtesy of being a Ugandan and be accepted as our own, of the tribe of Banyarwanda. Therefore the charges that Rwandans are arrested for being Rwandans in Uganda is the biggest lie one can come across. And to allege Rwandans who confess to be against your government are the ones welcomed here, is another lie.
The story of Rwandans in Uganda is best told by you, Your Excellency.
￼President has been a father figure to most East Africans, including Rwandans
Uganda has grown a President in you, and we are proud of that historical fact. You are one of the products of Uganda’s hospitality, and several of officials you were addressing had that courtesy.
Only those with a short memory forget that. I am sure, if it were not to exaggerate the situation of Rwandans tortured in Uganda, many of them would disagree with you. Unless they fear to say so before you – and they have their reasons.
Case of RDF General threatening Uganda
Mr President, the general, James Kabareebe, who you loved to quote in your speech, has made several statements. If you didn’t hear his statements in the past couple of years against Uganda, don’t expect Mzee Museveni to point it to you.
Mr Kabareebe has been sounding war drums.
Yourself you admitted in your speech that you believed he was out of order.
And he actually is.
A general of one country cannot threaten war to a neighbouring country unless he is out of his mind. Whatever his grievances, personal or national in nature, he knows the procedure.
That said, Mr President, you made a very important statement in your speech. Maybe, it is something you need to think about and of course, your listeners.
You spoke about the death of your former interior minister Seth Sendashonga. You also admitted that you have nothing to apologise for, in his death.
He was gunned down in a foreign country. There is little anyone can add to that.
Rwanda has courts. It also knows the international law. It chose another way.
Mr President, may be you know how many Sendashonga are out there.
My memory brings fast your former intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya. He didn’t die naturally in a South African hotel. And you made similar statements as you did with Seth. You said you don’t regret Karegeya’s death.
I don’t have space to recount name by name, politicians, journalists, human rights defenders etc who have lost or fled their country on account of fear for their lives.
Previously known as a warm, welcoming country, the decision to have your borders closed has left many with second thoughts
After that experience, Rwanda should not play innocent or ignorant.
The silence of Mr Museveni should not be misconstrued to mean foolishness. That was the message in itself.
It would disturb any leader when he or she gets to know you are hunting for anyone.
If Mr Museveni or governments before him, offered you and your colleagues on the run, to the government of President Habyarima, would you be alive today?
Mr President, it is not a secret that your intelligence services are very active in Uganda, just as they are in countries you have pursued people like Karegeya or Sendashonga. It is a public secret that even in Europe, you pursue them. And therefore to plead that you don’t know what makes leaders in Kampala uncomfortable with the manner you run your affairs, is again, BEING dishonest.
Keeping mutual respect
I don’t think Ugandans are asking Rwandans to be eternally grateful to everything they have done for you. No. However, it is imperative we keep mutual respect and cooperation amongst us. Our countries have suffered too much, our soils and rivers have sucked too much blood. We don’t expect to see an adventurist like Kabareebe losing his head anywhere in our borders.
I think it is good decision that you advised some Rwandans to stop crossing into Uganda, but, again like you know this is not practical. Mr President, you are a practical person. However, even if you build a wall around Rwanda, many Rwandans would prefer to jump into Uganda than any other country in the region. Uganda is home. Home, even to you. And many of your officials.
Before I sign out, let me address myself to the Ugandans who were relieved of jobs in Rwanda. It was all over the news. Mr President, you chose to keep silent about it. Do you know how many Rwandans enjoy their right to employment in Uganda? We should even go there.
Mr President, many people here in Uganda believe, you were incensed by the purge in MTN. Finally, the cover was blown away.
Annie Tabura, a former top MTN Uganda boss accused of spying for Rwanda
But before MTN, the officers who abused their uniforms and started kidnapping refugees and brought them back to Kigali for arrest, have spoken enough. These are messages you know that you need not ask clarifications about. You should just back off Uganda.
If Uganda was a bad a neighbor as you portray us, you would never receive any body with a voice complaining about where they were detained and how many kibooko they got. You know better than for such activities, your government would throw dead bodies on the streets or rivers, not talking and walking human beings.
I would have loved, to address myself to an analysis of the statement issued by Mr Sam Kuteesa, Uganda’s foreign affairs minister in which he said terrorists have killed Ugandan sheikhs, prosecutor Joan Kagezi and former Arua municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga, for may be, you know better why it was important for him to highlight those deaths.
Lest I forget, there is district chairman for Lwengo called George Mutabazi, survived narrowed from being kidnapped off the plane in Kigali in June 2017.
Mr President, didn’t you hear about? If your officers can kidnap a district chairman, what else can they do?
Therefore, Mr President, don’t interpret the silence of Uganda and Ugandans for foolishness. Or because we are not a country that makes noise over small stuff!
I am strongly encouraged by your direction to your officials to open borders for trade and movement of people to continue.
And your assurance that Ugandans, even criminals, don’t face arrest in Rwanda.
I strongly identify with the message of Mr Kuteesa. When we come to Rwanda, we obey the laws of Rwanda. Therefore, your advice to Rwandans should be, if you go to Uganda, follow the laws there, unless you believe your people have a problem with following laws like the rest of citizens of this country.
Telling them to stop coming to Uganda, can only be a Gen Kabareebe opinion. For he knows best why he wants to pick a war with Uganda, one like you say, doesn’t either of us. Not good for Rwanda or, Uganda.
Watchdog is a breaking news and blogs online publication covering majorly issues about Uganda and East Africa at large.
Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org