By Mulengera Reporters
A story on the state-owned The New Times website clearly shows Rwandans are angry with their long-time ally Andrew Mwenda and equally so with Eng Winnie Byanyima, the wife of opposition veteran leader Col Kizza Besigye. Like in the case of Mwenda, Rwandans accuse the Oxfam boss of losing courage to criticize President Museveni’s mismanagement of the Rwandan question.
Titled “Uganda-Rwanda Crisis: Andrew Mwenda can no longer feign neutrality,” the story (bearing the email contact of the editor) protests the substance carried in Mwenda’s last week piece in his “The Last Word” column under his Independent news magazine. In the 1000 word story (titled Uganda & Rwanda’s slippery slope), Mwenda gave his views on the ever-escalating animosity between Kampala and Kigali. He concluded that the two Presidents are equally culpable.
It was a cautious piece in which sought to please the two belligerents but (as we now know) has ended up appeasing none because even in Uganda, there are many who felt he wasn’t adequately hard on Kigali.
The story focused on the growing inevitability of military confrontation between the two countries and justification for this Mwenda conclusion was that the recent killing of two people by Rwandans on the Ugandan side of the border made Kampala justified to prepare for even worse. Mwenda’s argument was that the danger with such incidences (minor as they might be) is that both sides begin acting in anxiety and fear increasing the likelihood of one acting or ordering an action and regret later when better facts emerge.
In their The New Times missive, the Rwandans argue that Mwenda knows much more regarding the aggressiveness and indifference with which Kampala has always responded to their concerns. That there are long term grievances, over which Kampala has control, which have caused deterioration of relations to where they are now than the last week border incidence. They are angry Mwenda appeared as if he has already forgotten these very things he previously wrote about very eloquently.
Their view is Mwenda should have dwelt more on those like he did in an earlier opinion piece on the Uganda-Rwanda conflict his magazine published last year. The Rwandans wonder what has made Mwenda forget about his earlier well-articulated views in which he showed the 10 Rwandan grievances which Kampala hadn’t satisfactorily responded to. They fall short of accusing Kampala of being the invisible hand behind Mwenda’s latest missive.
It’s clear from their missive that Rwandans feel betrayed Mwenda knows much more than he disclosed in his impugned article. They write him off as one who no longer has the moral authority to claim being a neutral arbiter or observer in the Kampala-Kigali rift. The Rwandans also claim Mwenda suffers from “selective amnesia.”
Bylined Gerald Mbanda, the article condemns Mwenda for losing courage with which he used to speak against Uganda’s aggressive acts towards Rwanda. They liken Mwenda to Winnie Byanyima who they praise for criticizing Museveni on the Rwanda question in 2001 but has since made a U-turn. They express resentment at Byanyima’s recent utterances which were critical of Kigali regarding the latest fallout. They article
“The loss of courage by Andrew Mwenda and Winnie Byanyima to name things as they actually are is the real tragedy here not the specious prediction of an alleged inevitability of war. This is nowhere on the cards,” the article concludes. It’s just the latest in a series of many articles the Rwandan media has been outing criticizing officials on the Ugandan side.