More evidence has emerged showing the Rwandan Defence Minister Gen James Kabarebe scolded his countrymen for “scavenging” in Uganda.
According to the audio, which ChimpReports has listened to, Gen Kabarebe is heard blasting a group of leaders for traveling to Uganda whose officials he says continue to harass Rwandans.
The Minister’s remarks, which have not been condemned by officials in Kigali, could hurt relations between the two countries.
Addressing about 3,000 graduates of a political programme known as Ingando in Nyagatare on Wednesday, Kabarebe expressed disappointment that Rwandans continue to “Guhunahuna” (scavenging) in Uganda.
‘Guhunahuna’ is a Kinyarwanda term used to describe dogs searching for leftovers.
A visibly bitter Kabarebe told participants drawn from different parts of the country that the neighboring countries of DRC, Burundi and Uganda don’t wish Rwanda well.
“They are always jealous of Rwanda’s future and how well our people are progressing,” he said.
The Defence Minister, who hails from Ibanda, Western Uganda, gave an example of Rwandans, who were arrested and reportedly tortured in Uganda, to claim that was evidence of “envy.”
He asked his countrymen to “build your country instead of scavenging in Uganda because they are not better off than us.”
This is not the first time the minister was being accused of making disparaging remarks against Uganda.
Since September 2017, Kabarebe has upped his rhetoric against Uganda in his addresses to several groups of youth, women, traders and RPF cadres.
In some cases, he has made remarks interpreted as implying Uganda is an enemy of Rwanda.
On Wednesday, Kabarebe did not hide his anger.
The audio is the latest piece of evidence that could as well undermine the spirit of leaders pushing for the East African Community.
“See how Uganda is and every day you continue going there; you are arrested, detained and harassed all the time but why don’t you listen? Our embassy in Uganda is no longer doing anything other than spending all the time looking for Rwandans who have been arrested and beaten,” Kabarebe charged.
“You keep scavenging in Uganda looking for what? Why don’t you build your country instead of going to Uganda to be beaten? What do you want there? We lived in Uganda as refugees, left Uganda and shed our blood liberating your country. Let them also come here.”
He wondered why everything that happens in Uganda such as kidnaps and murders are attributed to Rwandans or Rwanda.
“Whatever happens in Uganda, it is Rwanda,” said Kabarebe, adding, “If any Ugandan is murdered for their reasons or by their government, they say its Rwandans. Whatever happens, I think they will reach a point where a Ugandan gets flu or Malaria, and they will say it’s Rwanda.”
Kabarebe said, “This is because they (Uganda) are not happy with our good leadership and level of development. That’s envy; nothing else. But what do we even want there? Why don’t we build our country for others also to come here? If Ugandans also want to come, let them come, we shall not stop them.”
Ugandans security services have previously arrested and detained Rwandans suspected of espionage, kidnaps, illegal repatriation of refugees and also threatening national security.
It remains unclear why Kabarebe did not use the established formal diplomatic channels to air out his grievances.
The tone of his speech painted a picture of an angry man.
It could as well be seen as a move to incite Rwandans against their neighbours in Uganda.
Rwandans, just like Ugandans, visit each other’s countries to attend ceremonies or even check on relatives and friends.
The two countries’ people are interlinked through inter-marriages and trade. They’ve for decades lived in peace and harmony.
Uganda – Rwanda ties solid
During a recent bilateral meeting at State House Entebbe, President Museveni said, “On security matters, there is no fundamental problem between Rwanda and Uganda. A number of incidents that are being commented about in the media, many would be properly addressed if only there was better communication. We have phones, we should talk more.”
On his part, Rwanda President Paul Kagame said if there were “any issues that need resolving, the respective agencies in the two countries have been urged to talk to each other, find out the facts, and agree on action to be taken…”
He added: “I can say with great satisfaction that we were able to agree on a number of important things for the benefit of our countries and region. Better communication, working together more deeply and sharing facts regularly will allow us to take better decisions.