Rwanda President Paul Kagame has disagreed with former President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete that President Yoweri Museveni is a good leader and mentor of African leaders.
Speaking at the 34th National Resistance Movement (NRM)/National Resistance Army (NRA) victory celebrations in Ibanda Municipality January 26, 2020, Mr Kikwete who was a chief guest, commended the Ugandan leader for his leadership that has brought unity and steady progress in the country and his role in mentoring leaders in Africa.
He said Museveni’s revolutionary works inspired him and others into leadership.
Mr Kikwete was the fourth President of independent Tanzania. Before he joined politics he was a senior member of the Tanzanian military. He was also instrumental in overthrowing Idi Amin when Tanzania invaded Uganda in 1978.
“Thank you for being a mentor to some of us that were growing up and you continue to be a mentor to many leaders of the African continent, please continue to do that work for the people of East Africa, Africa and beyond,” Kikwete who was equally mentored by President Julius Nyerere just as President Museveni, said.
However, to the ears hearing the Rwandan leader, Mr Kagame shocked everywhere to think otherwise about Mr Museveni, who picked him from nothing and gave him a chance to serve in his rebel outfit, Fronasa, which later became National Resistance Army (NRA).
Kagame served in NRA as an intelligence officer and later as Director of Military Intelligence. Kagame was also schooled in US on Uganda’s platform before he returned to take over command of rebels in Rwanda after the death of Gen Fred Rwigyema in October 1990.
Needless to say, it was NRA that provided a nursery for Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) whose rank and file attacked Rwanda in 1990 and took power in Kigali in 1994 under Mr Kagame. The whole world knows that Museveni backed RPF to take power in Kigali. And that Kagame was equally raised by Museveni and he is a historical in the NRA as one of the 27 men who attacked Kabamba on February 6, 1981, a day that launched NRA rebellion against President Milton Obote’s government.
However, while addressing the Rwanda-Uganda dispute on Wednesday, Kagame told diplomats in Kigali that his Ugandan counterpart cannot be a good leader when he is busy mistreating his neighbour.
“Treat your neighbour as you want to be treated. Not just hunt people from the neighbouring country so badly, and then go back and say these border issues are rubbish and nonsense. No, what is nonsense is what you do to your neighbour that actually creates that barrier,” Kagame stated.
“It doesn’t matter whether somebody else comes from another neighbouring country to praise you that you are the best person who has ever lived. I have no problem with anybody being the best person that has ever lived. But we must see it. Somebody has to explain to me that it is because of these reasons that I am saying it. If you did, maybe you are right to praise this person, but you can’t praise that person on my behalf because I don’t agree with you,” he fumed.
Kagame further revealed that he does not agree that Museveni is the best person that has ever lived in the region because he has suffered because of him.
“When you have so many grass-thatched houses next to each other, you don’t want to play games of throwing fire because you might get burnt too. When your neighbour’s house catches fire, your own grass-thatched house may also catch fire. That’s why cooperation is actually the best thing you can have. Not just somebody who could be praised for being the best person who has ever lived, but plays games of setting fire to other people’s houses.
“So for us we don’t play those games of setting fire to other people’s homes. But we invest ourselves and everything we have in trying to make sure that our homes and houses are well-protected, that they don’t catch fire easily. And make sure that whoever wants to set fire to our houses will do it at a very huge cost to himself. I’ve said too much, I didn’t want to say this, but sometimes you need to release. This has been weighing on me and I needed to let it go.”
Uganda and Rwanda have seen months of tensions with the two neighbors accusing each other of espionage, political killings and attacks on trade. This saw the closure of the Rwanda-Uganda border in February.
Museveni and Kagame signed an agreement in Angola in August aimed at ending the long-standing conflict.
The dispute between the two countries is feared to threaten the stability of the East African Region as well as economic integration.
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