Uganda: Paranoia has Museveni seeing spies everywhere

Mamos Media

By Albert Rudatsimburwa

Uganda’s media has been running a story about Rwandan spies.

This time it is Ugandans of Rwandan origin or those with Rwandan spouses who are being labelled spies, according to a New Vision story titled “Senior Police, Army officials face death over espionage” which was published on August 11, 2020.

The “senior officials” are 2nd Lt Phillip Ankunda, Pte Samuel Ndwane, and three others arrested in May “on allegations that they shared classified information relating to their operations with sources who in turn shared the said information with Rwandan intelligence.”

For more than two years now, authorities in Uganda have arrested Rwandans accusing them of “spying.” However, not once have these allegations been proved in any court of law. 

Lt Ankunda, Pte Ndwane, and their colleagues were arrested three months ago, in May, and detained incommunicado at the headquarters of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence.

It wasn’t until family members who had in the meantime been searching for their whereabouts, approached the media pleading to be told the fate of the disappeared youthful officers, that CMI admitted to detaining them. 

As is always the case involving those accused of spying for Rwanda, CMI hadn’t produced them in court; nor allowed them access to their lawyers, raising doubts that it actually had any evidence against them.

Had CMI had any such evidence, it wouldn’t have resorted to violating Uganda’s own constitutional safeguards by holding the young officers for more than three months without producing them in court.

The Ugandan constitution mandates that suspects be presented to court no later than 48 hours after their arrest.

Moreover, while CMI has a common power of arrest, it is constitutionally barred from detention of suspects, though it violates this prohibition routinely.

It would not be the first time that CMI would buy time through such illegal prolonged detention to torture or otherwise pressurise its hapless detainees to help cook up charges or to change from one charge to another as was the case with Rwandan Rene Rutagungira; sometimes they have gone as far as planting evidence on suspects, as was for instance the case with Claude Iyakaremye and Augustin Rutayisire.

On March 25, 2018 Iyakaremye was picked up in broad day light in Kampala at Virunga Bus Service, blindfolded, and taken to CMI where the story kept changing until his captors began claiming that they had found him with an AK-47.

However, no one at the bus park remembered the young man possesing any weapon. All they could say is that they knew him as a boda boba rider (motari). 

In May 2018 Emmanuel Rwamucyo and Augustin Rutayisire were abducted in Mbarara on their way to a bank.

Their money ($40,000) taken from them, were bundled up, detained, and tortured for no clear reason, as the allegations against them kept changing from suspicion of robbery, espionage, and possession of firearms after their abductors planted an AK-47 that they claimed to have discovered in the back of their car.

Lt Ankunda, Pte Ndwane, and their colleagues, are simply victims of President Museveni’s policy to persecute Rwandans in Uganda, which is clearly now being extended to Ugandan citizens of Rwandan origin or any with familial links to Rwanda.

Sources in Kampala say that these young men are being persecuted for being proud of their Rwandan ancestry and for feeling no need to hide their identity.

This is unlike the behavior of top officials in the Ugandan government, including many officers of the Special Forces Command (SFC) that protects the President, who have taken up Bahima identity and will only concede to being Banyarwada to very close friends and in private.

Pte Ndwane was particularly warned about some online postings he was fond of making that depicted Rwanda in positive light. Lt Ankunda is married to a Rwandan woman.

They are similarly faulted for remaining in contact with their relatives in Rwanda. Now they are in CMI custody where they are tortured to admit to spying on behalf of Rwanda.

However, what is clear is that many more Ugandan Banyarwanda will be labelled spies if they don’t openly show hatred for Rwanda in words and in deeds. 

Museveni sees spies everywhere 

Ever since Museveni started sponsoring the RNC to destabilize Rwanda, he sees Rwandan spies everywhere. Anyone who doesn’t agree with this anti-Rwanda policy is immediately labeled a spy.

Moreover, anyone who talks positively about Rwanda is similarly a spy in Museveni’s eyes. As a result of his anti-Rwanda paranoia, subordinates in his security services also see spies everywhere.

It is enough for a CMI operative to casually start a conversation on Rwanda with a Rwandan, or a Ugandan of Rwandan origin and any response that is not anti-Rwanda is enough to get that person labelled a Rwandan spy who should be arrested and detained without any semblance of legal process.

Such victims are extensively tortured in a wild goose chase to make them admit to spying and confirm to their boss that he isn’t suffering from paranoia. Such zeal in turn helps justify larger operational budget. 

Maj Gen Abel Kandiho, himself with a Rwandan refugee mother and a father of Rwandan origin, has enriched himself preying on Museveni’s extreme anti-Rwanda paranoia over the years.

Museveni’s policy has been a lucrative enterprise, whereby CMI field officers are paid according to the number of Rwandan “spies” they “harvest” (to use Ugandan foreign minister Kutesa’s notorious term). 

These young men’s crime is not spying; it’s failing to shed their Rwandan origins or links to the satisfaction of their persecutors.

Culled from New Times.

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