By Frank M.Gashumba
The Banyarwanda community in Uganda and all peace loving East Africans heartily express a vote of thanks and gratitude to CLF Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba for mending the frosty relationship that had subsisted between Uganda and Rwanda for close to 3 (three) years.
In the 3 years during which period the main common border of Gatuna had been closed, trade between the two countries had come to a stand still, opportunities were lost, family and social relationships were hampered, and scores of Ugandan Banyarwanda were arrested, detained and languished in jail on trumped up charges of espionage.
Frosty relations (fuelled and exaggerated in part by false intelligence) led to alot of suffering where many bonafide Banyarwanda were denied national ID’s while others had their ID’s arbitrarily confiscated, thereby losing opportunities to travel abroad for jobs, some lost scholarship awards (either because they were denied passports or had their national ID’s/passports confisticated) some lost business opportunities, while others couldn’t even travel for medical treatment (we regret to inform you that we lost some people to cancer who were denied passports) and therefore couldn’t access life saving medical treatment abroad) however thanks to Gen. Muhoozi’s efforts, the 2 countries are now experiencing brotherly relations.
All East Africans celebrate border reopening as providing the much needed economic boost to postcovid cross border trade. We are also grateful for the positive engagement, cooperation and coordination between the security agencies of both countries and most importantly, the prevention of war between the 2 countries where previous tension, accusations and counter accusations had brought the 2 erstwhile sister countries to the brink of war!
We have seen the ugliness of war, in terms of death, destruction on a grand scale, forced displacement of people, disruption of business and supply chains, loss of economic opportunities traded for suffering, pain and hardship.
We therefore celebrate the fact that all that was averted by the soft diplomatic efforts of Gen. Muhoozi and all peace loving Ugandans, Rwandans, Africans and Pan African toast to that.
To underscore the fact that mending the broken relations between Kigali and Kampala was no mean achievement, one has to recall that previous efforts by regional leaders, and the protocols signed had not yielded the desired results, but Muhoozi pulled it off. This therefore ain’t no mean achievement (by any stretch of imagination) and we re-state the timeless inspiring words of President Kagame who graciously acknowledged your outstanding efforts when he started;
“A great general is not he who wins the war, but he who wins the peace. Thank you for linking our 2 countries”
Beyond Rwanda and Uganda, frosty relations had impeded and dampened our great aspiration for East African federation. It had increasingly become a challenge to imagine free movement of East Africans, free movement of goods, non tariff trade, a single currency and a one East Africa, in the face of glaring contradictions such as border closure, mutual suspicion and bad relations between member states.
Suffice to say that, mending the relations has repaired the cracks and fault lines and brought the idea of East African federation back on track so much, so that the ensuing confidence is attracting new members such as the recent admission of DRC to the East African bloc and the current lobbying by Somalia and Ethiopia to join the East African community. We therefore thank you for the role you played and we equally thank President Paul Kagame and President Yoweri Museveni. May peace thrive and may we all have a flourishing and prosperous East Africa that is anchored on peace and stability.
By Frank M.Gashumba
Council for Abavandimwe.