The Rwanda-Uganda relations are good, according to Ambassador Richard Kabonero. In an interview he recently gave The Independent, a Kampala based bi-weekly news magazine, Kabonero reiterated what he said was Ugandan Foreign Affairs minister’s earlier statement – Rwanda is not an enemy to Uganda.
The question from the magazine’s managing editor he was responding to went like this: "There was a time in 2001 when Uganda went officially to parliament and declared Rwanda an enemy state. To date it has not yet gone back to parliament to withdraw it. If the relations are good and we are trading with them, how come Uganda has not declassified Rwanda?"
It was the fifth and final question, and all the other five that preceded had focused on bilateral trade, tourism, and the economic sense these make to the two countries, and Uganda in particular.
"Are there any economic linkages between Rwanda and Uganda?" was the first question, to which the ambassador replied that Rwanda was without doubt "one of Uganda’s greatest trading partners." He added that products worth US$100 million were exported to Rwanda, and an average of 274 Rwandan nationals per day visited Uganda last year.
More figures from the envoy revealed that there are over 3000 Rwandan students in Ugandan schools and institutions of higher education, which is 75 percent of the total number of Ugandans living in Rwanda. In comparison with other East African Community member countries, the diplomat said Rwanda is most important economically since his economy sells more here than it does anywhere else. Uganda’s trade with Kenya, huge as it may, is greatly tilted in the latter’s favour.
Now, if Rwanda is that important to Uganda, can it not ever be reflected in the way Banyarwanda-Ugandans are treated? Is the ‘r’ in the word Banyarwanda so small it fails to relate to the ‘R’ in the word Rwanda, thus the reason for missing out on the importance accorded to Rwanda the nation?
Reference is hereby made to a story in this newspaper yesterday; Banyarwanda (Ugandans) to present grievances to Ugandan Govt. In it members of UMUBANO, an umbrella association of Banyarwanda-Ugandans complained of being rated as third class citizens. The would-be inalienable rights to them as Ugandans have for sometime now been privileges. Passports, recruitment into public service, acquisition and retention of land and state-sponsored scholarships are some of the entitlements-turned-into-favours.
Naturally we thought this is a matter the Government of Uganda would want to address.