December 28, 2011 By and Noble MuraraBEHIND THE PRESIDENTIAL CURTAINS SERIES:
For many years Paul Kagame failed to cement the historical bond created by his two senior commanders and or brothers’ president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and Gen Fred Rwigema.
It had been agreed between the then Commander Fred Rwigema and Commander Yoweri Museveni way back in Tanzania that after liberating Uganda, they would carry on and help Fred liberate his own country (Rwanda) the country his parents had fled when he was only a toddler. A few years after liberating Uganda from Idi Amin Dada they continued to fight against President Milton Obote’s autocratic regime.
On this second liberation 5 years NRA struggle, Paul Kagame was introduced to Yoweri Museveni by commander Fred Rwigema who had both fought liberation wars way from Mozambique and hence he Paul Kagame becoming one of the 27 founding members.
Most young Rwandan refugees in Uganda participated in this liberation war because it was the only way to find a safer living due to their oppression by the Obote regime or as the only way to get arms and hence return to their mother land on liberation of Uganda.
Like most people know, Museveni is a man who keeps his promises the only promise he failed to keep is the term limit issue, though I will not go any further on this issue. He therefore kept his promise not only until when we evaded Rwanda but supported the war all the way through until the stopping of the Genocide.
After the liberation and stopping of the genocide, president Museveni paid his first state visit to Rwanda where he was welcomed by President Pasteur Bizimungu and vice president Paul Kagame. The relationship between Uganda and Rwanda was like a child and parent relationship. I remember we had to make people stand on the Kigali – Gatuna road from Nyakyonga to Amahoro national stadium just to show how welcoming and appreciating we RPA were.
In his words president Museveni talked about how (Moto) fire started in Mozambique to liberate the Africans and that they will continue. He continuously mentioned General Fred Rwigema as the best freedom fighter of all times in his speech along with other African freedom fighters he had worked with all the way along, including Julius Nyerere who he addresses as Mzee (elder in Swahili).
He went on to say that he was pleased to see that Paul Kagame who was a young man had grown up to develop into a leader, something (Kagame did not like). He also mentioned names of a few of our fallen and living commanders as his boys this did not sound good in Paul Kagame’s ears at all.
Although Paul Kagame was angered by his visitor’s speech and the fact that he did not praise him but instead his fallen comrade, he could not react in his usual silly manner due to the fact that Rwanda was still reliant on Uganda in many ways especially the defence. Museveni thought that Rwanda could be home to all Ugandans and Uganda to all Rwandans, during that time one could cross the borders of the two countries with no passport. This was President Museveni’s big ideas which he had extended to the creation of the East African block of countries.
However Kagame had negative feelings about the entire idea since he viewed it as being dominated by his former boss and the fact that though he was the Vice President, he saw himself as the president instead.
After helping Desire Kabila liberate Zaire, both Uganda and Rwanda continued to engage in the wars in the DRC which later saw both countries fight two times. These endless wars have created loads of instability in the entire great lakes region. Apart from the Congolese citizens these wars fuelled hash relationships between the two presidents. Uganda on its own lost two Companies of well trained young special force Hima boys in Kisangani by the much combat experienced Rwandan troops.
Most of the commanders and troops on both sides were opposed to the actual war due to the fact that the people of Uganda and Rwanda were more or less like brothers, and actually the Rwandan army had been born off the Ugandan National Resistance Army with their commanders and comrades still serving on the other side having trained together. With such incidents and situations we lost many comrades who were opposed to the fact that they couldn’t stand the fact of fighting fellow comrades. Lt Col Rutayisire Shaban was one of the officers who opposed the battles between the two armies. He mentioned this to President Kagame and being the man he was (the first RPA spokes man) and an intellectual, Kagame didn’t like the idea so he ordered his execution by a fellow senior officer. Gen Kayumba was among a few of the officers in Rwanda who couldn’t cope with the idea of fighting comrades.
Gen JJ Odong the then army commander of Uganda was instructed by his commander-in-chief to meet his Rwandan counterpart. I remember him meeting Gen Nyamwasa who was the army commander of Rwanda then, however on their return to their respective command headquarters, Kagame ordered his troops to carry on with the battle in Kisangani. I remember we made several visits in Uganda to meet Museveni in order to calm down the situation which had gone out of hands.
When the Congolese war finally ended, what followed was Paul Kagame’s intelligence network helping Lt Col Kyakabare and Lt Col Monday to escape the Makindye Military Prison, these two officers had been detained with serious charges however Kagame’s boys took them to Rwanda and they soon after declared war against Museveni’s government. Uganda was continuously used as a gateway for Rwandan dissidents who sought refuge in different parts of the world from their oppressive ruler Paul Kagame.
During that time Uganda also was holding numerous Rwandan dissidents who planned attacks on Rwanda, while the Rwanda government continuously planned to form armed groups that would destabilise Uganda and welcomed Colonel Muzora who had fell out with the Ugandan government.
Col Muzora was to only be found dead and dumped outside his front door after so many years in exile. However what is more disturbing is that the Ugandan intelligence service indicated that Rwanda knew about his death, and hence the relationship between the two countries depended on the two leaders (Kagame and Museveni).
A few years ago, Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa escaped Rwanda to South Africa through Uganda. On his escape, Rwandan officials contacted Ugandan officials asking them to detain him and stop him from fleeing any further, the Ugandan officials refused to arrest him and instead assisted as they believed he had a genuine cause to flee.
After Paul Kagame failed to get Kayumba back he made a phone call to Museveni and threatened that “he Museveni should bear the consequences of not arresting criminals like Kayumba and letting them pass through his country to foreign countries”. On another occasion again Paul Kagame cautioned while making his parabolic speech that “once you live in a grass thatched hut/ house you deserve not to play with fire since it might be used to burn yourself”.
A few days after these two speeches, the Buganda Royal tombs were burnt down just to show Museveni what damage he can cause on his soil. At one point Kagame rang Museveni and mentioned to him that he knows every move of his life from what he eats to how he sleeps. This was very stressful to Museveni who in actual sense is getting aged.
It should be remembered that Kagame was the head of intelligence in Uganda for a number of years and so he knows the sensitive part of Ugandans and mostly the Buganda kingdom. This took Museveni time to convince the Ugandans on what really happened; he had to use King Ronald Muwenda Mutebi in order to calm the Baganda tribe down due to the fact that they had lost part of their ancestral history for just some ill minded politician.
Prior to that but just after Kagame’s first warnings we saw the fall of Colonel Noble Mayombo a young energetic, well learnt jubilant uprising senior officer who held various posts during his time. This distinctive officer had urged Museveni to overthrow Kagame and insert somebody else who would maintain security in the region instead of destabilising it. He was the man who planned on how Kagame’s jet can be downed, but also he is alleged to have engaged with Kabuga Felicien who is accused of assisting the interahamwe during genocide.
Col Mayombo a royal to the Tooro kingdom and a close confidant to president Museveni who had fought the Congo war was later poisoned during a meeting through a glass of water, he died of multiple organ failure after being flown to abroad for treatment in Museveni’s presidential jet. On his funeral Museveni said that he had been killed by a group of great lakes region spies who did not like peace, but stressed that he had more Mayombo’s who would continue to fight for peace in the region. Museveni had to visit the late Canon Rabwoni, Noble Mayombo’s father and the entire Tooro kingdom with very little answers since he was still in shock of what Kagame was capable of doing on his soil from as far as Kigali. It should be however noted that Museveni had never underrated the capabilities of Kagame in Uganda due to his knowledge and influence in the country.
These killings, love hate relationship has been going on all these years. Paul Kagame is at present very uncomfortable and he is trying any possible ways of stopping Uganda from sponsoring any opponent against him.
He has at recent used Andrew Mwenda the greedy Ugandan journalist who was paid to publicise Kagame on the globe to revive his relationship with his former boss Museveni forgetting the uncountable Ugandan troop he has ordered for their execution in the jungles of Kisangani and the entire Congo under the command of Gen Kazini a man he personally had hated before he left Uganda in the 1990s.
Kagame has out of desperation used Gen Karenzi Karake who served in Museveni’s protection unit before the Rwandan struggle to try and revive his relationship with Museveni despite of the fact the later was detained without trial for allegedly aiding the escape of his colleague Gen Kayumba. After failing on all fronts, Kagame has recently asked his wife to jet in Uganda and try desperately and revive the long lost relationship thus carrying her entire family to a brother that he has hurt for such a long time Museveni, to try and attract some sympathy.
I am however left to wonder how long this unfounded relationship will last given the fact of all the preceding incidents that took lives of young men and women of both countries. It is evident how shallow president Kagame thinks his people are and belief that they shall forget and move on but i highly wonder if Ugandans will be able to forget the notoriety they faced by Kagame and his forces in the Congo just because he has visited Museveni two times in the last 2 months.
Kagame’s Christmas visits are long due. He should have done 17 years ago and hence avoided the Kisangani incidents saving lives of innocent comrades rather than turning up at this time as if nothing ever happened. This is common to him anyway. He is a type of a person who would sleep on one’s door step if he is desperate for any assistance and once he gets it, he would use any possible means to harm the same person that helped him.
President Museveni on the other hand is an ailing dude who is desperate to not cause any conflict to any of his neighbours let alone wild Kagame who he knows so well. To Museveni he is like a mad dog that you are happy not to annoy to save yourself from its bitter bites to save your skin for tomorrow. Yoweri Museveni and his brother General Salim Saleh Akandwanaho have kept their promises when it comes to helping Rwanda, just for the sake of the agreement they had with General Fred Rwigyema. It has been a hard time for the last couple of years after Kagame stopped Fred’s wife Jeannette Rwigyema from travelling and confiscating her passport. This angered Salim Saleh who was very close to the family of Fred, among the reasons why Museveni started engaging with Kagame was to diffuse his anger of mistreating his former commander’s wife Fred Rwigyema.