Kagame Is Determined To Damage Uganda’s Investment Climate

Open Letter To Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

October 16, 2017

Dear President Yoweri Museveni. I am most certain you are aware that Paul Kagame’s government and a section of East African social media have been circulating a fake story aimed at causing havoc in your family and country. The bearers of the concocted story maliciously claim that your younger brother, General (Rtd) Caleb Akandwanaho, acquired 15% in Leaf Tobacco and Commodities (U) Ltd (LTCU).

Shamelessly armed with forged documents, the Rwanda government and some media outlets further allege that in exchange for 15% shares given to him, your brother Akandwanaho has undertaken to provide security for LTCU’s operations in Uganda. Mr President, that is not the worst part of the dubious stories. This is how the East African of October 14–20, 2017 described the Kagame government’s use of the bogus story that is clearly based on forged documents:

“There have been two closed door meetings over the past two months of government officials and the ruling party…General Kabarebe said at the meeting that Rwanda was concerned by Uganda’s continued offering of its space to Rwandan enemies…Among them is the decision to allow exiled Rwandan tycoon Tribert Rujugiro to operate in Uganda and work closely with government officials.”

These accusations and insinuations by the Kagame government are totally false. LTCU has never given shares to any Ugandan government official, let alone to a brother of the Ugandan head of state. Thankfully, Red Pepper, one of the online news outlets that initially spread the false story has disowned it. Mr Johnston Musinguzi, Director of Red Pepper, categorically asserts that a fake website that stole their logo and corporate image is to blame.

Be that as it may, this case shows how Kagame wants to have his cake and eat it, too. He routinely grabs other people’s businesses, including Rujugiro’s US$20 million Union Trade Centre (UTC). Only two weeks ago Kagame illegally auctioned UTC for a mere US$8 million. But when businesspeople such as Rujugiro take their resources to countries that believe in and welcome large scale investments, Kagame changes his tune. Kagame labels these investors “enemies of Rwanda.”

Such character assassination is easily disproved by readily available evidence. Industrialist Rujugiro’s manufacturing and associated operations are strategically placed throughout Africa and the United Arab Emirates. His entrepreneurial spirit was born in Burundi in the 1970s, gradually expanding throughout the 1980s to Eastern and Central Africa including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Uganda. Then, in the 1990s, he moved into South Africa and Angola, and later into Nigeria in West Africa, the United Arab Emirates and South Sudan.

Today, Rujugiro’s companies have a presence in more than half of Africa’s 54 states – nearly all of sub-Saharan Africa; his operations support hundreds of suppliers and employ thousands of people throughout the continent. Rujugiro’s latest substantive investment is Meridian Tobacco Company (MTC) based in Arua, Uganda. MTC’s combined workforce incorporating direct employees, seasonal workers, and contracted farmers, now total 11,750.

Meridian factory in Arua, northern Uganda launched by recently Rujugiro

Mr President, evidently your Rwandan counterpart wants to damage Uganda’s investment climate. The Rwandan president now wants to export his inexplicable heavy-handedness to Uganda. In other words, Kagame wants Uganda to forego employment opportunities, and to shrink its tax base just like he does in Rwanda by killing private enterprise.

I conclude, Sir, by seeking your indulgence in the event that I may be repeating what you already know – namely, that you live next door to a president who can’t resist interfering in the affairs of neighbouring states.

Most Sincerely

David Himbara

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