In the last few months, there has been renewed tension between Rwanda and Uganda. Many have advanced the causes of the tension, some authoritatively.
Among the self-styled authorities is one Giles Muhame of the Chimpreports who articulated a plethora of reasons for the existing bad blood between Uganda and Rwanda, of which he received praises from one Rwandan turncoat David Himbara as an excellent analysis.
His reasons among others include;
· Rwanda Air denied traffic route through Entebbe airport to London.
· Gen. Kabarebe statement describing Uganda as an enemy country.
· The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) diverted to South Sudan instead of continuing to Kigali as originally agreed.
· Uganda’s failure to extend power transmission lines from Ethiopia and Kenya as originally agreed.
· Kidnapping and repatriation of Joel Mutabazi.
All these have received appropriate responses that I may not have to repeat them.
Recently, one Tom Collins posted an article in the “African business Magazine.com that, “…..the feud between Uganda and Rwanda ……. can be understood through the lens of Kagame and Museveni’s complicated personal relationship”.
He shares the view with many so-called sub-regional experts like Filip Reynjens.
Rwanda has accused Uganda of economic sabotage, kidnapping, torturing and killing Rwandans.
These have been substantiated with evidence including President Museveni own confession of his meeting with the RNC senior diplomats Charlotte Mukankunsi and Eugene Gasana.
Uganda accuses Rwanda of spying and espionage. President Museveni in his letter to President Kagame confessing his meeting with RNC senior diplomats Charlotte Mukankunsi and Eugene Gasana said, “….what’s wrong is for Rwanda to operate behind the Government of Uganda. I get a lot of stories, but I will never raise them unless I have confirmed them”.
From the horse’s mouth, it is evident that what is talked of Rwanda’s spying and espionage are mere unsubstantiated stories. As the revered revolutionary at one time admired by President Museveni, Mao Tse Tung said, “Seek the truth through facts”.
Therefore, there is no grain of truth in the allegations against Rwanda’s spying and espionage, since there are no facts supporting them.
My thrust in this paper is to analyze the real root cause of tension and conflict between Uganda and Rwanda.
Whether the well-substantiated Rwanda government accusations against Uganda, or the Uganda government unsubstantiated stories against Rwanda, they are all simply symptoms or manifestations of the real problem and not the root cause of the long term tension and conflict between the erstwhile brotherly countries.
When medical doctors are treating disease, they focus on the causal factor, not the symptoms.
Likewise, the practitioners of international relations like the politicians and military strategists; theorists like the media, academics, authors inter alia; should focus on the root cause of the tension and conflict between Uganda and Rwanda and not the manifestations of the problem, unless if they only want to manage the problem and not to eliminate it.
It’s therefore imperative that we analyze the Uganda-Rwanda tensions and conflicts from the Actors point of view as the root cause rather than dwelling on the actions or the manifestations of the real problem or root cause.
President Museveni’s grandiosity
This is the root cause of the perennial tension and conflict that have characterized the relations between Rwanda and Uganda since the Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army took over power in 1994.
Grandiosity generally refers to an unrealistic sense of superiority, where one view themselves as better than others, consequently, viewing others with disdain or as inferior.
This definition describes well President Museveni’s character and behavior towards his predecessors, the Uganda opposition leaders, the fellow regional leaders and especially Rwandan leadership and Rwanda as a sovereign country.
A. Museveni's Grandiosity character at the domestic level
Uganda is Gomborora
Immediately after the takeover of the country by NRM/A led by Museveni in 1986, he compared leading Uganda with being a Gombolora (sub-county) chief. He said that Uganda was too small for him.
Museveni has been a strong advocate of African continental integration and the East African sub-regional integration. Indeed, he has been elected to spearhead the East African Political Integration.
But to him, either East Africa or African integration can be achieved if only he is the one in the driver’s seat.
Contempt of his predecessors
President Museveni is on record to have described his predecessors as swine. The term swine used informally means, “a contemptible or unpleasant person”. The only president Uganda has had is him. The rest are swine.
Justification for clinging to power
For those who seek the explanation for President Museveni overstay in power, the answer lies in his grandiose character. In his book, “What is Africa’s Problem?”, Museveni argued that the major problem for Africa is that “African leaders overstay in power”.
His sixth term will end in 2021 when he will have been in power for 35 years; one and a half times the number of years all other Ugandan presidents have been in power. He has already declared himself a sole candidate for NRM party come 2021.
His reasons for overstaying in power clearly reflect the dictionary definition of his grandiose character. He has consistently argued that he has not yet accomplished his mission for Uganda which he went to the bush for and has no one to hand over power to.
He has openly said that he is the only one with a vision. Other Ugandans lack this vision.
During the Interparty Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) summit attended by heads of different political parties in Uganda on 12 December 2018, the opposition party leaders urged him to consider a peaceful transition to another leader.
Museveni told them that he is not about to leave power and should stop thinking of transition. He told them he will not think of relinquishing power until he is satisfied that the prosperity and strategic security of Africa have been achieved.
“If I still have strength, I will continue. That’s my point of view.- not to retire when original issues of why Africa nearly perished have not been addressed. And you are just addressing small things –elections. The ones you are electing to do what exactly? That you should answer. I have no other interests in politics because am a cattle keeper”
No opposition leader or any Ugandan is capable of replacing him. He has the vision for Uganda and Africa, which no one else can have.
Reference to Ugandans as children and grandchildren
Museveni refers to all Ugandans as his children or grandchildren. In all cultures particularly in Africa, children and grandchildren have to listen and take unquestioning orders from their parents and grandparents.
All Ugandans are all still amateurs. They are all too young to lead Uganda.
Museveni as Sabalwanyi
He has decorated himself with the title of Sabalwanyi. This is a Luganda term meaning the supreme fighter. He took over power through the barrel of the gun and knows that the only way to remove him can be through the barrel of the gun.
He knows no one can remove him through the ballot.
He is, therefore, scaring Ugandans never to think of using the gun to remove him. The use of a gun is only his preserve.
B. Museveni’s Grandiosity at Continental level
Contempt for other African Presidents
President Museveni goes beyond being a sent- savior for Uganda and Ugandans to believing that he is a sent-savior for Africa and Africans. “That’s my point of view.- not to retire when original issues of why Africa nearly perished have not been addressed”.
He believes Africa suffered heavily under colonialism and all African presidents have failed to address the plight of Africans. He is the only one who has the will and capacity to restore the prosperity and dignity to Africans.
That’s why he gives endless, largely fact-distorted lectures on Pan-Africanism.
He doesn’t even pay any respect to the African leaders who fought for African independence; forged the African unity through Organisation of African Unity (OAU) the predecessor of African Union (AU); and those who fought and defeated the South African apartheid. After 35 years, he needs more to liberate Africans from poverty and insecurity.
C. Museveni’s grandiosity and Rwanda
Museveni’s grandiosity has been more conspicuous on his erstwhile ally and brotherly neighbouring country Rwanda. This led to the deadly conflict in Kisangani, DRC which exacerbated the tension and suspicion between the two countries.
In his quest for his hegemonic leadership and control of the sub-region and the continent at large, he saw Rwanda as the entry point. Rwanda patriotic army was formed in Uganda by commanders under his leadership.
Rwanda another Ugandan district and RDF another UPDF Division.
The Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) that liberated Rwanda had roots in Uganda. All senior commanders of RPA and the big bulk of its soldiers were in NRA later UPDF under Museveni leadership.
More than half of the 27 NRA pioneer fighters who started the liberation war and over 40 percent of the Museveni’s NRA soldiers that captured Kampala in 1986 were Rwandans.
They included number three in the NRA hierarchy, Major General Fred Rwigema who became Deputy Army Commander, and later Deputy Minister of Defence, and the current Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Museveni sympathised with RPF/A liberation war mainly because he saw their success as a stepping-stone and a long desired entry point for his regional hegemony.
Indeed, immediately after RPF/A took over the government, Museveni and his senior commanders looked at Rwanda as yet an additional Ugandan district, and RPA, later RDF as an additional NRA division. They referred to RPA commanders as “our boys”.
Despite working with him for a long time, Museveni had never known who the real Kagame was.
He had simply regarded him as his soldier/officer and maintained the same lens even after Kagame led Rwandans to liberate their country and was now the Vice President and later the President of an independent sovereign nation. He was wrong.
Kagame showed him that Rwanda was a sovereign country and RDF was a national army. Museveni didn’t take it well and that’s when he started plotting for the regime change.
To install someone who can take orders from him and open his gateway to sub-regional control.
This started only a few years after RPF/A had liberated the country.
President Kagame in the recent National Retreat, exposed how Gerald Prunier in his book talks of how as far back as 1998, he met the Ugandan generals led by General Saleh (Museveni’s brother) together with Seth Sendashonga who had defected from RPF government.
In the meeting, Gen Saleh asked Sendashonga to mobilize Rwandans in exile to fight and remove the RPF government.
The Rwandans in exile at that time were mainly the ex-FAR and Interahamwe who had committed genocide. It’s, therefore, no wonder that Museveni is still actively mobilizing and supporting these genocide forces calling themselves FDLR and any other force planning to remove the current Rwanda government.
Museveni had also all along been courting Kayumba Nyamwasa to rebel against the new Rwanda government of which he ultimately succeeded. Kayumba was accorded a red carpet welcome by Museveni’s brother Gen Saleh when he escaped.
It’s said that it was the first time President Museveni took a glass of champagne, fully convinced that Kayumba will help him accomplish his mission of regime change in Rwanda. Kayumba is now the leader of RNC which is fighting to overthrow Rwanda government, and which President Museveni and all his security machinery have thrown their weight behind.
It should be remembered that the liberation of former Zaire and installation of Kabila to power rested entirely on Rwanda shoulders. Uganda never participated in the first Congo war despite the persistent insinuation by Museveni that he did.
After the RPA forces had captured the major cities and it became clear that the fall of Kinshasa was inevitable, Museveni sided with Mobutu to accuse Rwanda of aggression.
When Mwalimu Julius Nyerere asked him why he was against the “Young RPF leadership”, Museveni’s response was, “they don’t listen to me”. Mwalimu reminded him that Rwanda is a sovereign country and they don’t have to listen to him.
When RPA forces were advancing towards Kinshasa, Museveni asked Kagame that they should allow Gen Saleh to command the capture of Kinshasa. His reasons were that Gen. Saleh was a very seasoned, senior and more experienced commander than the young RPA commanders.
He had captured Kampala. But RPA new very well who had captured Kampala and these were the same commanders who were advancing towards Kinshasa.
They had captured the whole of Zaire and were just left with Kinshasa. And that’s the part Museveni wanted Gen Saleh to accomplish.
His reasons for wanting his brother Gen Saleh to capture Kinshasa goes beyond stealing the show from Rwanda and taking the glory of removing the then worst African dictator, but had economic interests as have always been associated with this particular general.
Remember in Museveni’s autobiography Sowing the Mustard Seed, the whole Uganda liberation is all centered on him and his brother Gen Saleh.
Refer back to the definition of grandiosity; “…… the brief that few others have anything in common with oneself and that one can only be understood by a few or very special people”. Only his family-his wife, his brother, and his son are “the very few and special people” who can understand him.
Congo II /Kisangani battles
During the Congo II war, Uganda forces participated on the periphery as RDF forces moved quickly to capture several towns in the Eastern and South Eastern DRC.
UPDF, on the other hand, focused on the mineral-rich areas of North Eastern DRC.
By the time of observing the cease-fire, UPDF had no town to settle in. Uganda commanders requested Rwanda counterparts to give them Kisangani town since they (Rwanda) had many other towns like Goma, Bukavu, Kindu, Uvira among many others. Rwanda commanders refused.
They told them that each force should occupy the area and town they shed blood to capture.
The response didn’t go well with Uganda commanders. (Commanders take orders from Commander-in-Chief).
During one meeting in Goma which included one representative of Mwalimu Nyerere; Kahinda Otafiire who was leading the Ugandan delegation in the negotiations told off the Rwandan delegation using the analogy of a dog called Kakwisi that, “either you give us Kisangani or we all lose it”.
He has since then earned a nickname of Kakwisi.
It was after these Kisangani battles, which left Uganda forces badly bruised, that Museveni went to Parliament to declare Rwanda an enemy country.
This was the singular cause of Kisangani battles. Other reasons that have been advanced are either ill-informed speculations or mere face-saving politicking.
D. Revelations by Museveni’s benefactor
If all the analysis above cannot convince you on the innate Museveni’s grandiosity, you cannot negate the revelations by his benefactor, the late Boniface Byanyima.
Museveni spent a big part of his early life at Byanyima’s home who supported him in various aspects including giving him pocket money.
In his interview with Benon Herbert Oluka, in December 2015 Byanyima revealed to him “The Museveni I know”.
I will lift a few of Byanyima’s own statements verbatim.
“He visited us frequently. He liked me and my family, my children. We treated him as our child”.
“He was a young man of ambition, always trying to show that he was better than other students. And he appeared to be ambitious in small things. Whenever he got a chance, he wanted to show that he was an important person. He wanted to be respected”.
“But I didn’t believe him because I could see that he also wanted an opportunity to show that he was important. I thought that even if he took power, he wouldn’t put into practice what he was talking about. I looked at him as the kind of person who wanted to promote himself rather than working for a principle because he would say one thing now, then another time a different thing. He didn’t show me consistency”.
These are verbatim statements from Museveni’s benefactor who closely interacted with him during his early days. Clear demonstration of Museveni grandiosity character right from his youth.
E. President Kagame’s extraordinary leadership achievements
President Museveni’s grandiosity ego has been wounded by President Kagame’s extraordinary leadership achievements after inheriting a country in ashes left by genocide.
His achievements in a record short time in areas of national socio-economic transformation, social cohesion, Information, Communication Technology (ICT) among many others; has been dubbed the “Rwandan miracle”.
This has earned him international recognition leading to his unanimous election by the African Heads of State and Government to spearhead the African Union Reforms and by the UN General Assembly to be part of the United Nation reforms team; both of which Museveni campaigned against vehemently.
Museveni’s envy for Kagame’s leadership achievements has heightened his resolve for regime change in Rwanda.
In conclusion, many writers from different circles have advanced the causes of the perennial tension and conflict between Uganda and Rwanda. All the advanced purported causes are mere symptoms or manifestations of the real problem.
Studies on International conflicts and Human behavior have shown that the locus of the important causes of war is found in nature and the behavior of man. Indeed, the root of all evil is man, and thus he is himself the root of the specific evil, war.
The root cause of the tension and conflict between Uganda and Rwanda can only be traced to the grandiosity character of President Museveni. Several cases right from his youth as revealed by his benefactor to his presidential era, clearly illustrate this.
President Museveni wants regime change in Rwanda to have in place the one he can use as a stepping-stone and a get-way to control the region and fulfill his long-held grandiose hegemonic dreams.
The author is a security expert on the Great Lakes Region