14 April 2019

Rwanda: Why West Nilers Should Not Celebrate Over Their New 'Savior'

Photo: The New Times
Tribert Rujugiro

The sustained campaign to sanitise fraudulent Rwandan businessman Tribert Rujugiro is up in earnest, especially in Uganda.

A teaser posted Saturday on the official twitter handle of Ugandan daily, New Vision about the paper that will be circulated on Sunday has a headline that goes "Rwandan magnate is West Nile's new hope".

The paper goes on to indicate that the article - clearly comprehensive - will be splashed on two pages.

It is not every day that a national newspaper will dedicate two pages on a business venture by any business person. But Rujugiro is no ordinary businessman, as his track record portrays.

For context, we will refer you to our publication of March 25 in which we unmasked a campaign by Rujugiro and his handlers to sanitise his business operations.

As part of the campaign, reporters from selected media houses were sponsored to travel to West Nile, the region where Rujugiro runs his tainted tobacco businesses.

They would spend there an unspecified number of days.

The reporters left Kampala with clear instructions of how to cover stories, including who to interview, to come up with a story that would make the man look good in the eyes of unsuspecting Ugandans.

No doubt the spread by New Vision is the result of the trip and this, like said above, is how Rujugiro operates, deception...

More publications are expected to follow suit, according to our sources.

By the article and others to come, Rujugiro and his backers in the Ugandan government, want to kill two birds with one stone.

One he wants to project himself as a bonafide businessman whose ventures are impacting communities, and two, distance President Museveni and his brother, General Caleb Akandwanaho a.ka.Salim Saleh, from his business dealings.

On Rujugiro's credentials as a bonafide businessman, it will not require much research for instance to establish the mafia type that the man has been, for as long as he has been in business.

This spans back to the 70s when he ventured in business in Burundi, where he would later escape from prison.

An extensive analysis on Rujugiro's murky dealings was published by this publication on March 21 2019.

No doubt, the losers in this will be the people of West Nile in particular, and Ugandans in general because no one, other than the son of Ayabatwa will benefit from this operation as has been the case for the past 40 years.

Of course the other beneficiaries are his associates in Uganda, mainly Museveni and his brother General Saleh, who is a 15 per cent shareholder in Leaf Tobacco and Commodities Company (U) Ltd.

The shareholding was entered on June 13 2017, during which the General, who is also not new in the world of shady business undertakings, offered protection of Rujugiro's "business interests in Uganda and the region".

Already, available information indicate that Rujugiro has been using equipment located in his Dubai facility to manufacture counterfeit stamps similar to the ones issued by Uganda Revenue Authority.

That is typical Rujugiro.

The fake stamps are used to "authenticate" cigarettes manufactured elsewhere.

With this technique, he has been able to systematically evade taxes by under declaring sales volume.

Only 40% is declared and 60% of the profits are smuggled out of the country.

According to an insider, every distributor is instructed to change 60% worth of daily sales from Ugandan shillings into US dollars through local forex bureaus.

So who is the loser in this? Certainly the people of Uganda.

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