By George Kalisa
Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Uganda and the Chairman of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), I have the honour to pen this letter to you to firstly express my gratitude for the recent release of the nine Rwandans.
Secondly, to convey my dissatisfaction with the snail pace of the implementation of the Luanda MoU and the continued illegal detention of many Rwandans in my country, Uganda, which is one of the factors behind the current cold diplomatic and economic relations between Uganda and Rwanda.
I am a Ugandan, working in Rwanda and a die-hard of the ruling NRM party. However, that is not the only relationship I have with you, Mr. President.
Apart from the fact that many people I meet say we resemble, I went to the same school [King’s College Budo] with your son Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba and your son-in-law, Edwin Karugire between 1986 and 1990. Also, I converted to Pan-Africanism after listening to your repeated and captivating lessons on the philosophy of Pan-Africanism in the 1980s and I am a Pan Africanist to date.
I shared with Counsel Edwin Karugire a two-decker bed in 1987, the last one on the right just at the exit door to the balcony of England House. I was in Senior two so to say his senior and thus he had to sleep on the top decker. That was the order. And, I call him my “Senior One” according to the Budonian jargon.
Then, in 1988, your son joined us but sleeping in Nigeria House and we would interact whenever he paid impromptu visits to the two sons of the late Eriya Kategaya in England House and in the Chapel whenever members of the Budonian Scripture Union met for fellowship. Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, then a student in Senior One preached in one of the Sunday Night Prayers on the theme “love”. Our school life is a topic for next time, anyway.
Your Excellency, all this, therefore directly qualifies me to address you as my father, President, Chairman, compatriot and mentor. Keeping quiet when things are going in a wrong direction would, thus, portray me as a traitor and an enemy of Uganda, Pan Africanism and peaceful co-existence with all Africans, Rwandans included.
I, also, wish to take this opportunity to inform you from the bottom of my heart as my lovely President and Chairman of NRM that we [Ugandans living and working in Rwanda] maximally enjoy the prevailing security here just like Rwandan nationals, and I am reliably aware that since the relations started soaring close to two years ago, no single Ugandan national, absolutely none has been illegally tortured, molested, arrested and/or detained.
Mr. President, let no one mislead you on this. The seamless and unsuspicious co-existence between Rwandans and Ugandans in Rwanda is one of the untold stories. Ugandans share with Rwandans all the social and economic benefits including security and employment opportunities. None of us is complaining and we keep on wondering why our Rwandan brothers and sisters face the wrath of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) on the Ugandan soils.
Yet, we’re busy amassing and remitting wealth to our motherland, Uganda, producing children with Rwandan ladies and generally live largely on Rwandan soils without anyone’s interference. I am now a father of a child with a beautiful Rwandan lady hailing from Muhanga District. I named him Yoweri Ssebuggwawo.
Your Excellency, the cause of the collapse in relations between Rwanda and Uganda, and failure to reach a solution remains a puzzle and indeed a mystery to us. We have no answers to it as ordinary Ugandans working in Rwanda. I only thank God retaliation is not about to happen.
In the wee hours of December31, 2019 there was a security check-up locally known as Umukwabu in the residencies around Amahoro National Stadium, where I stay. I later learnt from neighbours that they combed thoroughly all the houses but my house was skipped. Imagine, this kind of hospitality!
On the contrary, going by the media reports and Rwanda’s material evidence that was presented during the second meeting of the Ad Hoc Commission on the Luanda MoU that ended in an unprecedented impasse on December14 in Kampala, the situations in Kampala and Kigali are a far cry.
Undeniably, the release of the nine Rwandans is a welcome step to the implementation of the Luanda MoU. But, Mr. President and fellow compatriot, it’s my conviction that you being a freedom fighter, peace lover, an architect of EAC integration and peacemaker in Africa you can craft a solution to cause sustainable peaceful relations between the two countries.
Much as my country, Uganda may have pressing concerns the excellent diplomatic and economic relations prevail over them.
Let me not be seen as an enemy of my state, Uganda. God forbid! But, Rwanda has a long list of pressing concerns that you my President and father can address with your counterpart H.E President Paul Kagame. Mr. President, you are already aware of them.
On July4, 2008, my Editor-in-Chief at The New Vision, Els de Temmerman and I physically met President Paul Kagame at Village Urugwiro [Rwanda’s State House] for an exclusive interview and since then I have closely watched him and I know he is a man of rare integrity who is ready to listen when it comes to the cause of peace and stability. He had just assumed the Chair for the EAC, then.
I, thus, request you Mr. President to use all the Executive Powers enshrined in Uganda’s 1995 Constitution to order for the urgent release of the rest of Rwandan brothers and sisters in different safe houses across the country, and follow suit and put an end to the alleged operations of Rwanda National Congress (RNC) the way the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa did to stop all foreign refugees and asylum seekers who allegedly carry out political activities on South African territory under the guise of liberation of their respective countries. The law banning political activities by foreign refugees in SA took effect January1, 2020
According to the Kigali administration the ultimate goal of Rwandan dissidents wherever they are is to destabilise the security and stability of Rwanda where many Ugandans earn a livelihood. It is needless to mention the eventual collapse of trade between the two countries that followed their (RNC) alleged activities on our territory.
Mr. President, you are very well aware that Rwanda has for many years been our biggest trade partner and Ugandans would not wish to lose it on the grounds of issues that you are capable of solving.
Undoubtedly, given your leadership and political prowess, you have a clean record as a statesman, freedom fighter and you indeed, delivered Uganda from the economic and political wreaks caused by dictators like Ex-Presidents Idi Amin Dada and Dr. Apollo Milton Obote (RIP).
You have made Uganda a true democracy, and as your supporter I wonder why should your alleged association and support of Rwanda National Congress (RNC), really erase the hard earned name you boast of in Africa and the world over.
For more than three decades, the name Museveni, to be specific, has been a symbol for peace and security and no one doubts this fact including your political opponents like the leaders of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and People Power Pressure Group – Rt. Col. Kiiza Besigye and Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine respectively.
Lastly but not leastly, I call upon fellow Ugandans to vote you, the only tested leader, as the next President of the Republic of Uganda come 2021 for particularly your proven unequalled record in economic development and security.
And, I categorically call upon my fellow members of the ruling NRM party to support my initiative and talk to you as our Chairman about the urgent need to revive relations between Rwanda and Uganda through democratic channels, which our long time neighbour Rwanda, is still committed to utilize.
This letter has been written by George William Ssebuggwawo aka George Kalisa, currently the Chief Editor of The Light Magazine. During his 15-year career as a journalist he has worked as a Special Correspondent for EFE News Agency (Spain) and The New Vision (Uganda) based in Kigali after serving as Sunday Editor, Society and Supplements Editor of The New Times (Rwanda), and lately an analyst for Al Jazeera-The Stream on Ebola crisis in Eastern DRC.