Rwanda-Uganda Relations: An Informed Analysis (Part II)

By Prof. Nshuti Manasseh
On 4 April 2019 at 08:30

In the previous article I did highlight some destabilizing activities by Ugandan ruling elite for over 20 years as a party that claim informed understanding of issues that have characterised Rwanda-Uganda relations since 1997, and despite constant denials against hard evidence, such is bound to be expensive politically, economically as well as their social implications to the relationship between the two countries.

Issues highlighted earlier (harbouring and organizing destabilizing agents against Rwanda as well as torture and imprisonment of over 1000 Rwandese) serious crimes which were brought to the attention of more than 350 top officials both in government and private sector during the recent government retreat in Gabiro (9-12th March, 2019) by President Kagame giving specificities in each case, was in shock to this distinguished audience of Rwandese.

As pointed earlier, the acts of destabilization of Rwanda by Uganda ruling elite, where elite means inner circle of President Museveni (Hima ruling class to be precise) is trended due to a combination of reasons that defy logic and portends to demean a sovereign state despite the trended failure of this strategy for the last 20 years without lessons learnt thereof by such political elite. Reasons behind this bizarre situation we find ourselves in include:

The liberation of Rwanda by RPA (now RDF) was a long process and very expensive in all aspects possible, financial and human. This process began way back in the late 1970s before the current Uganda ruling elite was anywhere in the picture.

Nevertheless, Museveni’s bush war of the 1980s presented an opportunity for the actualization of our liberation struggle, a struggle that was to return home millions of Rwandese who were scattered the whole world and were told by the late Habyarimana’s regime that they cannot go back home for Rwanda was ’full’. And so thousands of young Rwandese were to fight the so-called bush war alongside others from 1980 to 1985 when they dislodged Obote II as well as Rutwa regimes and brought Museveni to power.

As I pointed out in part I of these series, Obote’s persecution of Rwandese in Uganda energized many young and determined Rwandese fighters to join the war to ouster Obote who was a determined enemy of Rwandese in Uganda. The fact is, there is no way Museveni would have prevailed against Obote without the support of such a determined force of young Rwandese pushed to the wall by Obote. As Professor Mahmoud Mandani in his paper African States, Citizens and War, a case study put it “Baganda peasants, hated Obote, but they were not ready to die fighting him”, despite Obote’s negation of a people..that a good Muganda is a dead one.

And so Rwandese refugees became natural allies in this struggle of survival of last resort. Many young Rwandese fighters died in this struggle, although this is not mentioned anywhere in Uganda for political expedience that cannot mask facts. And although it is his book The Mustard Seed, Museveni purports to imply that, this was a war fought by himself and his brother Salim Saleh, reversal facts hold true.

However, a number of these Rwandese fighters were to be elevated to senior positions including late Fred Rwigema, and President Paul Kagame (among others) not because this was favour but rather on merit. When these young Rwandese decided to fight back home in 1990, there is no single Ugandan who joined them to liberate Rwanda. These young fighters from Uganda were to be joined by their brothers and sisters from Burundi, Republic of Congo (now DRC), from within Rwanda and yet others from a wider world who understood and were bought to the cause.

By 1993, RPA (now RDF) could no longer be defined as an army made up of fighters from Uganda but rather a mixture from the aforementioned who knew little of the claims of the “contribution” by Uganda to our struggle for liberation. Ugandan political elite did not realize this development, regardless of the fact that, even if RPA (RDF) remained a predominant a Ugandan born/bred fighter army, control and insubordination by the Ugandan ruling elite would not have been possible, as this was to be a national army that served the national interest. Period!

Nevertheless, Museveni did provide logistics and weapons not necessarily as payback as there was no contract to this effect but out of his own volition. Given the foregoing and current trends however, his contribution was eternal “debt” never mind one owed by Uganda to Rwanda’s contribution to its liberation. And so the narrative that “Museveni helped banyarwanda” to return is to return home is negated by his minimal contribution to the same. But the later narrative has defined the relationship between Rwanda and Uganda, where such terms as “…Uganda groomed the entire leadership of Rwanda, Rwandan leadership is ungrateful, rebellious, and disrespect to elders... (Read Ugandan political elite) is common currency among a section of this elite and seems to have been sold to the populace that does not know the opposite. And so this elite has held a view that Rwanda and her leadership owes an “allegiance debt” that should be paid in the form of subordination and subjection.

When Kigali said no to the insolence of Ugandan political elite who held view that Rwanda should be run from Kampala, and those who did not oblige should be removed/changed and or make their governance difficult explains the trended destabilization of Rwanda since 1997 against the leadership that said no (and rightly so) to this in subornation by Kampala. Thus, memories of senior RPF cadres are fresh with regard to the imposition of Majambere, late Sethi Sendashonga and even diversionary attitudes of Pasteur Bizimungu to this effect. Recruitment of late Karegeya and Kayumba is an open secret among these senior cadres as well, all aimed at creating stooges in Kigali whom this elite could then run from Kampala. Resistance to these machinations by Rwandan leadership has thus been a boon in the fresh of this elite for far too long.

Ugandan political elites and especially President Museveni has not come to terms to the effect that, Rwanda is a sovereign state with structures that are not run on personal sentiments but rather based on the best interests that serve our country, and our people majority of whom have no idea of nor are interested in the called “debt”.

In fact, if this was to be the case, this strategy would have been a disaster that Rwanda nor Uganda could not afford to underwrite. For Rwandese of Ugandan origin/exiles constitute a modest percentage of our entire population and as such could not have imposed such Ugandan insubordination on others. Moreover, such a strategy for the sake of argument is a serious contradiction to the Rwandan ideology (agaciro/dignity/self-respect/ independence) held so dear in our culture that a Rwandan would die fighting to retain the same. And so when President Kagame told leaders in National Retreat that he would rather be killed than kneel before anybody, he spoke for all Rwandese and this his statement is loaded.

However, the trended destabilization machination of Ugandan ruling elite since 1997 was aimed at not only creating power structures managed by stooges of Kampala but also make Rwanda a region of Uganda under the control of the said political elite and not necessarily to develop Rwanda, but rather to serve their political egos and through these their economic interests which underpins their power framework.

And so the current trend that has seen Uganda grouping destabilizing rebels from RNC to FDLR in to the so-called P5 which is a project in futility is part of the trend to create an alternative government that is a stooge to Ugandan political elite never mind that, other similar projects faced the fate this particular one will as well. That the said political elite are working with renegade Kayumba and his associates who are also working with Uganda’s security agents to mobilize rebels for these outfits for an evil cause is on the radar of every Rwandan, especially now that these acts have taken other forms and shape leaving their objective constant (destabilization of Rwanda) as wishing these renegades to be in power in Rwanda is akin to the devil’s wish to go to heaven.

Nonetheless, what is surprising to these destabilization acts is the fact when Tanzania dislodged Dictator Ida Amin from power in 19978, they did not harbor these underage judgemental mindsets of influencing events in Uganda. They left Uganda and Ugandans to organize themselves the way they deemed fit. There were no such under-age sentiments as… Tanzania groomed the entire leadership of Uganda, Ugandan leadership is ungrateful, rebellious, and disrespect of elders.. (although they are other reasons behind the behavior of Uganda’s political elite as will be outlined later), I am not sure that Tanzania even imagined that Museveni would ever be Uganda’s President, for Obote was their man given his socialist tendencies and his close relationship with late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

Assuming that, Tanzania did the same to Uganda for in 1978 liberation of Uganda against dictator Id-Amini Dada, one wonders where Uganda would be today. In that particular case, the contribution of Ugandans rebels (of which Museveni was one) to that war was minimal as Tanzania did most of the job.

Given the foregoing, therefore, the best strategy for Ugandan political elite should have been “live and let live”.

To be continued…