The deterioration of relations between Rwanda and Uganda and the manner in which both sides are reacting is an indication that something has been going on behind the curtains and won’t stop until some explanations are submitted.
Observers have argued that this corrosion is about personal differences between President Paul Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni.
Critically analyzed, every argument describes the historical and current facts written on the walls.
Between 1980 and 1986, Rwandans were part of the National Resistance Movement that waged a protracted war against Milton Obote in Uganda. Subsequently Rwandans waged another liberation war to return to home with some Ugandan support.
Museveni should carefully think through this natural fact and stop patronizing Kagame, with the view that his government owes him a foot massage, inferred from his attitude.
Obviously there is a prevailing battle for ‘Balance of Power’ in the region, and Museveni is obsessed with being the most influential, even attempts to bully his neighbours.
He has been trying such games on Rwanda, but they keep backfiring over and over again, an outcome that irritates him deeply.
Museveni is grumpy. After all he has been nursing multiple setbacks and embarrassing precedence over the past two decades.
In 1997, Museveni suffered a humiliation for procuring junk choppers while Rwanda purchased brand new ones from the same dealer – Consolidated Sales Corporation (CSC).
Museveni reacted by depleting the country’s savings to purchase Sukhoi30 fighter jets from Russia, which he regularly shows off during various calendar days to signal superiority. The Uganda shilling has never recovered after coffers were emptied.
Rwanda had a meticulous response to such egoistic intentions; despite a smaller economy compared to Uganda, it purchased new passenger jets to strengthen the national carrier, RwandAir, that has since grown, expanded, ferrying investors and tourists.
Museveni decided to deny RwandAir traffic rights for the Entebbe-London route.
Museveni has scratched his head to find a way of reviving Uganda Airways, but he doesn’t seem to find the right formula. Yet every year Rwanda adds a plane or two on its fleet and increases its destinations.
Rwanda currently organizes prestigious aviation events and has advanced to projects that have successfully launched satellites into lower space.
This stuff about Rwanda makes Museveni very jealous, and anyone dismissing this argument is naive and gullible.
Those who know Museveni will agree he does not entertain competition and does not enjoy people around him taking credit for a job well done.
Recently Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli acknowledged that he heed candid advice from Kagame and has indeed revived AirTanzania.
The deep and institutionalized corruption in Museveni’s government would only expose Uganda as ineffective in handling such mega projects.
The Kisangani grudge
The encounters between Rwanda and Uganda in Kisangani One and Two explain why the two neighbours can’t return to this option – this is why new options are taking up this continuously silent flexing.
President Kagame said in his recent interview with The East African that no one would entertain anything that would destroy the progress in the region, what he described as the “unthinkable.”
War mongers should find somewhere to beat their drums from. Insane characters have suggested that Museveni is attempting to provoke Kagame into an attack to find a motivation for revenging on the humiliating beating in Kisangani.
Museveni is instead attacking Rwanda differently. Uganda is actively engaging Rwanda in an economic war, sabotaging its development aspirations and economic interests, individual or state oriented– for example businesses owned by Rwandans in Uganda have collapsed after their operators got kidnapped, tortured and later dumped at the borders.
A stronger East African community bloc would be very beneficial to member states if all proposed policies are respected and implemented.
Harmonized customs and borders plus free movement of labour, skills and goods but by application, Uganda is seemingly not interested.
It has instead kept squeezing Rwanda not to advance.
In the spirit of East African community, Rwanda allowed Ugandan manufactured products to dominate part of local market and stayed as customer.
Why would Uganda hurt its customer? If Rwanda managed to ban second hand clothes from US, it can as well ban products like alcohol from Ugandan that do not add value to lives of Rwandans, yet massively consumed.
Rwanda has upgraded its border posts to modern standards. Kagitumba was completed about a year ago.
Those who travel regularly through Gatuna have observed construction on site and the challenges of dust, and mud plus lack of shelter for waiting passengers.
Kagitumba has all these state of the art facilities and thus a diversion that was communicated earlier to Uganda Revenue Authority should not have resulted into this saga.
Of course the circumstance provided Rwanda with an opportunity to send a message to Museveni’s continued behavior.
Closing a border affects not just Uganda. Burundi and Eastern DRCongo as importers and Kenya as an exporter suffer equally.
Uganda is after something else, dwelling on the border closure is merely a scapegoat.
When Ethiopia announced that it was about to complete the Grand Renaissance hydroelectric power dam to produce thousands of Megawatts, there was a plan to export excess of this electricity to East African States.
Rwanda built high power transmission lines up to the border with Uganda but Uganda has since delayed construction on its side and rejected a brotherly help with funding from Rwanda to quickly complete construction of transmission infrastructure on Ugandan side.
This has denied Rwanda enough electricity to spur industrialization thus keeping the cost of production very high so that Uganda continues dumping products into Rwanda at very low prices.
Manufacturers in Rwanda keep raising concerns of the high cost of production mostly due to the high cost of electricity.
What makes Museveni think that he can sabotage Rwanda’s economic projects and walk away with it without being held accountable?
Even though Ugandan economy is larger than Rwanda’s, it should be remembered that having a big house doesn’t mean having a big home.
The quality of life in Rwanda is improving – for example universal health insurance, free milk in schools and other social programs make Rwanda safe to women and children.
No Rwanda is worried about being murdered in the streets as it is in Uganda, where dozens of innocent Ugandans, including guarded senior members of government have recently been gunned down in broad day light.
Museveni endorsing construction of a swanky embassy in Kigali is a signal of how important Rwanda is to Uganda and requires handling with high level diplomacy both now and in future.
Equally Rwanda takes her diplomatic engagement with Uganda very seriously.
On the global scene, Rwanda is more convincing and is increasingly attracting tourists, foreign direct investments and signing stronger and meaningful bilateral cooperation.
A score of Rwandans have been taking top international positions for example; African Development Bank, La Francophonie and a score others.
Rwanda’s tenure as chairperson of the African Union and the quality of delivery, and the manner in which reforms were quickly conceived, even under hurting conditions, gave Rwanda a high score.
Before President Paul Kagame took over the chairman position for the African Union, France and Rwanda relations had frozen.
France had been training a mountain brigade for the Ugandan Army.
France definitely has intentions of getting to the nerves of Rwanda. There is no question about that, and Museveni, who initially supported Rwanda to dislodge the same army from Rwanda, is well aware that as a brotherly neighbor, you have to trade carefully with your neighbors enemies, unless you intend to keep them unsettled.
You do not marry your friend’s divorced wife and expect to meet him for a drink every evening and laugh about it as if it’s a funny adventure.
Throughout Rwanda’s tenure at AU, one would say the French had chosen to carefully keep off Franco-Rwanda dispute.
France which remains non apologetic for its role in the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, finds Uganda of a bullyish attitude towards Rwanda as the best friend for the moment.
To exploit this new found love, Museveni has also invited other enemies of Rwanda and no wonder RNC is freely recruiting just next door in Uganda under his support.
Rwanda repeatedly exposes evidence indicating presence and operations of RNC and FDLR in Uganda but Museveni has adamantly refused to denounce this terrorist group.
This therefore drives to a big question about Museveni’s Pan Africanist credibility that he claims has long fought for.
You don’t support a rebel group against a friendly nation and retain and credibility, morally or ideologically. You lose both, and are declared bankrupt.
In 2007 when Uganda hosted the 20th Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth Nations (CHOGAM), Rwanda was very supportive to ensuring Security but as Rwanda prepares to host a similar gathering, Uganda is instead antagonizing Rwanda’s security.
Museveni has deployed his security agencies to aggressively and consistently use generic websites to undermine Rwanda’s image, globally.
A glimpse into espionage stories, one would ask what is in Uganda that prompts Rwanda to send spies and not in Tanzania, Burundi or Kenya.
Most of these submissions enlisted above provide the ripe grounds for Rwanda to do something and act with the aim of defending the interests and safety of Rwandans.
What Museveni should not forget is that Rwandans are people who have endured hardships for long thus Uganda’s current behavior towards Rwanda cannot cause any panic in Rwanda.
Going by the current status of events, on a moral ground, those fronting the idea that these two presidents should speak to each other is skewed.
It is Museveni who has wronged Kagame. He should pick a phone and call Kagame or pay him a visit and sort out this mess he has caused, not the other way around.
After all, Kagame has previously traveled to Kampala and presented Rwanda concerns to Museveni.
A moral equivalency cannot be drawn. It is a fallacy which intends to bring a comparison and thus draw an ideological equivalence between those Presidents.
It is not only wrong, but unattainable