On Friday, March 13, Andrew Mwenda, an advisor to President Museveni, tweeted “Karma is really a bitch. As minister of security, Henry Tumukunde claimed that Kale Kayihura was working with Rwandan President Paul Kagame to overthrow Kaguta Museveni. Today, Tumukunde is going to be charged with treason for calling upon Rwanda to help him to remove M7 [sic] from power.” The day before, Mwenda had broken the news as the operation to arrest the retired army general was underway, proving that Mwenda was kept in the know by the offices he works for and for which he is tasked with shaping the narrative of the arrest.
I will return to the issue of Karma – which Mwenda seems to be very familiar with – regarding his own role in the deterioration of relations between the two countries. But first, let me deal with the false narrative that he was sent out to promote. While it is true that Tumukunde was arrested days after statements suggesting Rwanda ought to aid the opposition in Uganda to remove President Museveni from power, his arrest has nothing to do with these statements. On March 4, 2020, Gen Tumukunde said, “If I was Rwanda I would wish to support people who want to cause change in Uganda.” Shortly before, Tumukunde had informed Uganda’s electoral commission of his intention to run for the presidency in the 2021 elections.
Uganda Police also said that the arrest stemmed from his comments requesting Rwanda “to support him in removing the current leadership with or without the ballot”; that the arrest was related to “the impact of the inflammatory and provocative rhetoric by the suspect” towards the public and security forces, according to a story carried in The New York Times.
Tumukunde invoked Rwanda only precisely because he knew it would create an “inflammatory” buzz on the Ugandan political scene, bring media attention and, he must have hoped, prevent an arrest that, as a former spy chief, he knew was impending. Even those who arrested him know that based on Tumukunde’s history with Rwanda, not only did he not mean what he said – beyond using Rwanda to attract media attention for his troubles that have nothing to do wit it- but that there was no basis under which, even if it had any interest, Rwanda would consider him a person with whom to engage at all in such a high-stakes game.
However, both Tumukunde and the person who ordered his arrest know that Rwanda is a country that can not be used as an effective foil for any domestic trouble facing Uganda, which is the source of the current crisis.
Tumukunde must have learned from his boss that Rwanda could be a good scapegoat for Uganda’s domestic troubles. He was a key actor, both as Minister of Security and after, when he headed the “Rwanda Project” in a plot to destabilize Rwanda as a means of diverting attention from purely domestic matters. In other words, if instigating persons to destabilize another country with the aim of removing its leadership is the crime, then Tumukunde is merely an accessory to the crime in which Museveni is in the dock for his role in instigating such groups as the FDLR, RUD Urunana, RNC, MRCD-FLN. Tumukunde committed this crime on Museveni’s behalf.
Mwenda is therefore pushing this Rwanda angle, knowing fully – and certainly better than most observers – that it is not the real reason for Tumukunde’s arrest. Similarly, Tumukunde knows he was merely pleading for attention when he invoked Rwanda. If Tumukunde didn’t need the media attention as his last refuge, he would reveal the real reason of his arrest. If Museveni didn’t need Rwanda as his scapegoat for all his domestic troubles, he too would tell Ugandans the real crime that he is charging Tumukunde with. But because no one is willing to tell the truth, they know Mwenda is a good lair. So they deployed him.
But if Karma is as real as Mwenda says, then Mwenda should explain why it hasn’t visited him yet given the fact that as Tumukunde was busy lying to Museveni about Kale Kayihura allegedly working for Rwanda, this Karma analyst Andrew Mwenda was also busy spying on Kale Kayihura and similarly lying to Museveni that Kayihura was a Rwandan agent. Mwenda and Tumukunde have carried out the exact same disinformation campaign against Kayihura to their patron Museveni. So, if Karma is rightly visiting Tumukunde, Mwenda should be explaining to us whether Karma is selective in its application of justice. Unless he wants us to believe that Karma too can fall for his silvery tongue of shameless lies.