By David Himbara
From the beginning to the end, the retreat hosted by General Paul Kagame in his capacity as Chairman of the East African Community (EAC) was most hilarious. The attendees of the March 29, 2019 retreat were cabinet ministers responsible for EAC affairs in each member state, heads of EAC institutions, and EAC business leaders.
Perhaps, the initial funniest moment of the retreat involved no other than Chairman Kagame himself. With a straight face, Kagame uttered the following rather laughable words:
”As we approach the 20th anniversary of the renewal of the EAC, steering the Community in the right direction is the best gift we can give the citizens of East Africa…Only by working together will we spur innovation, create employment and generate the wealth needed to transform East Africa.”
Kagame deserves a medal for incredible acting — he was on this occasion a comical if sad genius. Here is a man who has closed an international border; locking Ugandan goods out; and promising to create wealth for the people of East Africa. Here is a man depriving thousands of his compatriots of livelihoods by trapping them behind the iron curtain so that they do not cross into Uganda to eke a living as they normally do.
The second funniest moment no doubt involved Uganda’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs, Kirunda Kivejinja.
Imagine how unreal Kagame’s words about working together to transform EAC must have sounded to Kivejinja. Kivejinja was no doubt bemused. As Kivejinja sat listening to Kagame speech, Kagame’s New Times on the same day was quoting Rwanda’s minister in charge of the East African Community, Olivier Nduhungirehe, as follows:
”The only activities allowed for Rwandans in Uganda seem to be plotting against their country, denouncing fellow Rwandans and training forces for the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), and P5, a coalition of Rwandan opposition political organizations linked to Rwanda’s former military chief, Kayumba Nyamwasa, whose has openly declared intentions to destabilise Rwanda and wage an armed struggle to topple the current government.”
Another funny aspect of the Kagame retreat was the presence at two very prominent Rwandan brothers — Johnston Busingye and Dennis Karera.
Johnston Busingye is Rwanda’s Justice Minister. His brother Dennis Karera is a former soldier turned into a businessman. The presence of the two was quite a surprise. Justice Minister Busingye had helplessly witnessed his businessman brother Karera ”disappear” back in July 2018. Karera was mysteriously arrested and detained. It was rumored that Karera was being investigated over “business deals” involving enormous properties he had accumulated. The last I heard of Karera since 2018 was that his whereabouts remained unknown. But there he was at the Kagame retreat. Miracles do happen. A few among the ”disappeared” in Kagame’s Rwanda do resurface — most do not.