By Dezi Aguma
The mood in former Museveni Minister Abel Rwandeire’s extended family is of fury after more than Shs70m provided by President Yoweri Museveni’s government failed to complete the construction of their father’s grave. Having succumbed to heart-related complications, Dr. Rwandeire was buried in the first week of October 2017. This makes it one full year since his burial that was preceded by a state funeral announced by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda. “What is hurting us even more is the fact that Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda went as far as announcing a state funeral for a man whose mere grave they have failed to build to completion for now one year. They keep saying budget constraints as if anybody ever pressurized them to make such big commitments. They should have left us to bury our man in the modest way we could rather than taking over things they couldn’t complete,” a furious family member told this website. Our Kigezi correspondent indeed travelled to Kibuzigye village Bubare Sub County where Dr. Rwandeire was buried. And what did he find? An abandoned fairly well-built home with overgrown grass in the compound where nobody seems to be staying. Behind the house in a valley lies Dr. Rwandeire’s incomplete grave which is part of a larger family graveyard. Sometime back, another big person in the family died and furious mourners cursed Museveni’s government on seeing an incomplete grave for Rwandeire that has remained in that state since October last year. They raised questions but nobody would readily answer because even the deceased’s immediate family members are in a disarray of sorts after relatives sympathetic to his wife Mercy became uncomfortable accepting four children that came up after his death claiming to be his. “What made many family members shocked, the four children were being bought by younger women who are as young as Dr. Rwandeire’s own children. We never knew he had any other women around besides Mercy but to our shock these women came up including a Nigerian lady claiming to have been his girlfriend,” says a family member. “We were really surprised how men can keep their secrets.”
Another family member says the prospect of getting embarrassed in case his other unofficial relationships were to be discovered greatly troubled Dr. Rwandeire and possibly escalated his heart condition to which he eventually succumbed as he watched TV in his living room in Namugongo with his wife Mercy. The family member says the fear to be spiritually embarrassed (he was a devout Catholic) was so high that Dr. Rwandeire would sometimes be overcome by feelings of self-guilt and fail to come back home. He would on such occasions spend lonely nights sleeping in his car with his driver having concluded that his wife at home wouldn’t easily understand his dilemma. At some point, some concerned friends in Kampala put together money and got for him a house where he would privately reside as he sought repentance for God to enable him overcome self-guilt that was continuing to torment him. Initially some of the relatives fond of Mercy (the main widow) had rejected the four children and the decision was taken to resolve their paternity by subjecting them to DNA tests that are to be carried out early next month of November. Some relatives objected to this procedure saying it will only confirm what is obvious as some of the children greatly resemble Dr. Rwandeire.
THE GRAVE EMBARRASSMENT;
Saying Rwandeire must be turning in his grave, family sources say it’s possible selfish government officials concerned with the matter must be taking advantage of this paternity confusion (regarding the four children) to misappropriate or divert some of the money the big man offered to properly construct Dr. Rwandeire’s grave. “Someone must have diverted the money because it can’t be a budgeting problem because there is no way a whole President would have sent the Prime Minister to announce a State funeral when he wasn’t sure where the cash for the grave would come from. The whole thing was consolidated and itemized and if my memory serves me right, Shs75m was allocated for the coffin, the grave and other extras for the completion of Doctor’s final resting place. But those guys have tossed us until we had to give up frequenting the relevant government ministry,” said a family source thanking Minister David Bahati for his efforts to remind the concerned officials to release the money. “He has really tried his best and if the Premier Rugunda had equally tried, this money would have been found to at least honor Dr. Rwandeire in death. Just imagine somebody of his stature resting in an incomplete grave for more than one year now. This is shame and with such people in government, President Museveni doesn’t need political enemies like Dr. Kizza Besigye or even Amama Mbabazi to de-campaign him in Kigezi. The job is already being done by sabotuers inside his own government,” furiously said another relative reminiscing Kikiga curses mourners directed at the NRM government during a recent burial at the same burial grounds. “Whoever glanced at the incomplete grave left convinced that guys in this government don’t have friends but are out to just use people and forget them in death.”
WHO WAS HE?
Rwandeire, whose Namugongo vigil the President participated in, wasn’t a small man. He was a big name cadre of the Movement who twice served as Minister for Trade and Tourism and later on the Higher Education docket. He was Rubanda East MP (1996-2001) and was replaced by Pereza Ahabwe who later became Local government minister up to 2011 when he was replaced by Henry Musasizi. Understandably, Musasizi (who considers Rwandeire his mentor) hasn’t found time to follow up on the incomplete grave embarrassment because he is politically very much tormented after Rubanda district LC5 Chairman Kenneth Jogo Biryabareema declared ambition to oust him in 2021. The well accomplished Rwandeire started out as the Principal UPK which later became Kyambogo University. He had a PhD in Biochemistry and was chairing the Makerere Visitation Committee at the time of his death. He was a member of the rotary club of Kololo/Kampala East where he always rubbed shoulders with his fellow mighty. At the peak of his professional career, the amiable Rwandeire served as MD UNIDO (UN Dev’t Organization) up to 2008 and his offices were in Vienna Austria. He was a catholic and at the state send-off in Kibuzigye village, Rugunda described him as a well liberated Mukiga whose approach to life transcended religious differences and other petty considerations that are common in Kigezi-land. Officially he was declared to have left 6 children, three sons in law and four grandchildren. Quite understandably, the four other children whose paternity is now splitting the family and threatening to scandalize his legacy were kept in the background. Their matter was never discussed anywhere through the bereavement period. Some family members are also asking about his retirement benefits as a public official who served with excellence and all these things are demonizing the Museveni government while diminishing its popularity especially in the Kigezi Catholic fraternity where Rwandeire was a pillar. For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755.