By David Himbara
Uganda hosts a variety of Rwandans. An estimated 14,000 Rwandan refugees live in Uganda. An unknown number of illegal immigrants cross into Uganda looking for work. Uganda says that “over 70 percent of the new forest reserve encroachers are from Rwanda.” Then you have Rwandan professionals who seek employment in Uganda. Lastly, most Rwandan elites who grew up in Uganda from the 1960s to 1980s send their children to study in Uganda. Given this reality, one would think that if Uganda has an issue with any of these categories of Rwandans living in Uganda, the government of General Paul Kagame would handle the situation cautiously.
Rwanda acts as if it is entitled to Uganda’s hospitality.
When Uganda recently deported a Rwandan executive working for a South African multinational, MTN, the Kagame government went on the offensive. Kagame minister Olvier Nduhungirehe went on the attack. This is Nduhungirehe public statement:
”Apparently, walking and working in #Uganda while Rwandan have become a crime. The only activities allowed for Rwandans in Uganda seem to be plotting against their country, training forces for the #RNC/#P5 and denouncing fellow Rwandans. This provocation will stop at some point.”
Kagame and his ministers cannot be accused of grasping the fundamentals of diplomacy. Diplomacy allows a government to handle problem issues while still maintaining a positive attitude — so as to create an atmosphere in which reasonable agreements can be reached. Rwanda is also conveniently forgetting that it had turned Uganda into a hunting group, kidnapping Rwandan refugees almost at free will.
Only Kagame and his ministers can turn a job loss by a Rwandan national in a foreign country into a diplomatic incident.
In 2018, the Tanzanian government denied a work permit to Sylvia Mulinge, the incoming chief executive officer of Vodacom Tanzania. The reason was simply that Mulinge was Kenyan. Vodacom appointed Tanzanian CEO. Kenya and Tanzania have had frosty business John Magufuli came to power in Tanzania. A number of Kenyan companies and businessmen have been locked out of Tanzania. Magufuli has expelled Kenyans — he even auctioned 1,000 head of Kenyan cattle that had “trespassed” into Tanzania. None of this is positive but you don’t see a Kenyan minister publicly attacking Tanzania. Diplomacy takes over. I guess its too much to ask of Kagame and his ministers to become diplomats.