Interview with Rwandan dissident Himbara is proof of Uganda’s support to dissidents

David Himbara’s interview published in New Vision on Saturday is yet another attempt by Uganda to divert readers about the real issues affecting the relations between the two countries.

New Vision is a government-owned publication.

From the onset, it is clear that the objective is not to enlighten readers, but part of the continued strategy by the Ugandan leadership to support Rwandan dissidents in their goal of destabilising the country.

Such collaboration is nothing short of provocation.

According to an audio clip of the interview, the reporter is given instructions about how to go about his work.

“When you write your story, I want you to hammer this…,” Himbara tells the reporter as he strives to discuss the impact of the strained relations.

But to set the record straight, it is important that we look at some of the lies that could be exposed by simply fact-checking if objectivity was important to the state-owned Ugandan daily...

1.    Rwanda’s economy

Rwanda at one point had a target of 11 per cent economic growth. Like any other economy in the world, Rwanda always sets high targets and works towards achieving them.

Some work others don’t. 2008 was a tough period for the global economy. On average the growth has been at 8 per cent over the last 10 years. These figures are available from credible organizations such as the World Bank or IMF. Why New Vision chose to seek the state of Rwanda’s economy from a dissident only exposes their goal.

2.    Tribert Rujugiro

Both Himbara and Tribert Rujugiro are Rwandans, and like many others, were invited to Rwanda to join in the rebuilding of their country. However, it is their shady and dubious dealings that led to the fall-out. The first to fall out was Rujugiro. At the time, in an interview with The New Times, Himbara himself explained Rujugiro’s departure.

As you may know, he [Rujugiro] has run into difficulties with South African authorities who are alleging that he evaded tax in that country, and now awaits to face these charges.

“This means he cannot be a member of PAC – given the high ethical standards the President of Rwanda demands of people he associates with, no matter what their background, influence and expertise,” Himbara said in an interview published on April 15, 2009.

It is no secret that President Kagame gives equal opportunity to all Rwandans, however, those who abuse their authority will always be held accountable. Accountability has always been a principle of Rwanda's governance and enforced by leadership, irrespective of the position or title of any individual.

3.    Crystal Ventures

Himbara claims that Crystal Ventures, the business arm of the RPF controls everything. Not true. Crystal Ventures is doing business and it is entitled to do so. It competes for contracts like many other companies in the country. Just by using Google search engine Himbara refers the New Vision journalist to in the interview, he should have verified this.

The inclusion of Crystal Venture is an old tactic employed by detractors in their failed attempt to discredit the RPF

4.    Charles Etukuri – The interviewer

The reporter describes himself as an investigative journalist. It was a shock that after the interview, he himself offered to share it with Himbara for approval.

This only shows the open-door policy that the state-owned media has granted dissidents.

When it comes to ethical standards, especially for non-technical content, reporters do not share their stories before publication.

It is not uncommon for subjects to request to see the article, but what was mindboggling in this case, was the reporter offering Himbara to be the editor of his interview, whose goal is to tarnish Rwanda.

5.    Rwanda-Uganda Border

The trade relations between the two countries are strained. Rwanda indeed adheres to the EAC guidelines of free movement of goods and people.

However, if Rwandans are arrested, tortured, detained in inhumane conditions without being arraigned in court or given consular access in Uganda, it is the state’s obligation to protect its citizens and it rightly did so by issuing the travel advisory. What is being done to Rwandans is not only a breach of EAC free trade and movement of people, but a blatant violation of international laws that the dissident Professor Himbara and the journalist ought to know.

Uganda has for long sabotaged the entry of Rwandan goods into their market causing losses to business people. And, interventions of Rwandan authorities have fallen on deaf ears, just like other concerns raised.

Rwanda can thrive without imports from Uganda, and as a matter of fact, research proves that the current situation is an opportunity to invest and cover any existing gaps that have for long been exploited by Uganda for dumping and unfair trade practices.

The reporter’s claim that ‘Rwanda does not have food’ just shows how low they are stooping. This is as pathetic a claim, just as it is with the misleading facts on trade given by Himbara between the two countries.

The interview ends with Himbara requesting for a column in New Vision to spew his hate for Rwanda. And, he even offers to pay for access to the column. The reporter gladly offers to be his spokesperson and present the idea to his editor. That is clearly the last straw of objectivity.

It is important for readers to know Himbara for who he is and not what he claims to be. During his time in Rwanda he was known as a man who was characterised for his abuse of office, lacks civility and exhibited arrogance in dis-respect of regulations and ethical decorum.

Himbara’s interview comes at a time when he is coordinating CMI enhanced activities of promoting RNC and Rujugiro activities in Uganda.

It is becoming clearer that RNC is using New Vision as a vehicle for its propaganda. It is not surprising therefore that the latter has been directed by the terror organization to conduct interviews with women alleging that their husbands were “abducted” by Rwanda.