Rwanda: Museveni Caught in an Offensive-Defensive Dilemma

Yoweri Museveni.
analysis

Since the Kisangani battles in DR Congo that left Uganda forces badly bruised, Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni has nursed an outright offensive on Rwanda.

It involves the direct support of armed groups fighting the Rwandan government and the reactivation of his forces.

The offensive campaign has, however, of recent been curtailed by the attacks from the opposition that led him to withdraw to launch a defensive campaign. President Museveni is , therefore, facing an offensive-defensive dilemma.

Prelude

In one meeting with President Mkapa where he was trying to reconcile the erstwhile brotherly countries, President Museveni told President Kagame in Kinyarwanda that: "Ntiturakaraba". When Mkapa asked Museveni what he meant, Museveni told him that Kagame knew what he told him.

"Gukaraba Inzigo" is an old Rwandan practice whereby if a family member killed a member of another family; the two families would sit together and the family which killed selects one of their own and hands him to the bereaved family to revenge. That would put to an end any future revenge and two families would resume friendly relations.

The proposed Gatuna One-Stop Border Post between Rwanda and Uganda. File.

Museveni was telling Kagame that there can never be any reconciliation until he has avenged for his soldiers' lives lost in Kisangani. He has indeed never given up on his vow.

President Museveni is no stranger to this cultural practice since he shares the same heritage with President Kagame before he declared himself a Munyankore and Banyarwanda as his bête noire.

While addressing his Parliament on June 22, 2018 on the theme "defeating challenges of insecurity in Uganda", he confessed that he takes his origin from Umutara, but rushed to add that Umutara was a part of Mpororo in Ankole.

Yes, Umutara was part of Mpororo, but Mpororo was part of Rwanda. It was a deliberate distortion of history to convince his Parliament that he was not an immigrant from Rwanda.

Umutara has never been part of Uganda, instead it is Mpororo which was a part of Rwanda and was annexed to Uganda before independence by the colonialists.

Museveni is a master of distorting the regional and African history to suit his goals. Nonetheless, he needs to be reminded of the 19th Century French historian, diplomat and author, Alexis De Tocqueville, who warned that: "Misplaced lessons from history may be more dangerous than ignorance of the past".

Testing his forces capability

Shortly after the withdrawal of Ugandan troops from DRC, Museveni met all his commanders at all levels and the singular item on the agenda was: "Are we capable of launching a successful invasion on Rwanda?" The answer was unanimous - "Yes we can".

He asked various commanders individually, service commanders infantry and air force; various arms- tank, artillery, and engineer commanders.

They all assured him that they have the will and the capacity to launch a successful invasion of Rwanda.

Gen. David Tinyefuza now (Sejusa), who was not in attendance, learnt of the resolution to invade Rwanda. He called President Museveni to tell him that if he wanted to hasten the demise of his regime, then he can invade Rwanda. He told him straight in his face that UPDF has no capacity to carry out a successful invasion on Rwanda.

Museveni heeded Tinyefuza's advice but he continued nursing the idea. He maintained his goal but opted for the multipronged, multi-force offensive strategy, which called for bringing in proxies. That's how his marriage with the genocidal forces like FDLR and terrorist groups like Rwanda National Congress (RNC) come into play.

Museveni's multi-pronged offensive plan

Having been convinced that his national forces could not successfully launch an offensive on Rwanda, Museveni started looking for proxies and allies. He also started reactivating his own forces. This is how he has been doing it;

i. Mobilisation of proxy armed groups

Museveni had mastered well his friend Muammar Gaddafi's philosophy that he used to fight imperialism. "I am not interested in your political programme or your military strategy; I will finance you and arm you as long as you are fighting imperialism". To Gaddafi, imperialism referred to any country supported by the West.

Museveni's philosophy is, "I am not interested in your political programme or your military strategy; I will finance you and arm you as long as you are fighting the Rwandan government".

That's how he comes to support and arm the genocidal forces in DRC and the terrorist groups like RNC, including giving them Ugandan passports to ease their travel all over the world campaigning against the Rwandan government.

FDLR liaison officers based in Uganda

Uganda has always and still has FDLR liaison officers who work closely with his Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) which houses them, feeds them and provides them with transport and security.

Their joint shared objective is the removal of the Rwandan government.

Enter Philemon Mateke, the Minister in charge of Regional Cooperation

The appointment of the superannuated, near-centenarian 97-year-old (has cut it to 76 years), Mateke, was premised solely on his historical links with the genocidal forces. His singular role, therefore, is the coordination of the genocidal forces based in DRC with whom they share a similar ideology.

In 1973, Mateke organised the massacre of Rwandan refugee students who were studying at Mutolere secondary School.

It took the intervention of the then Assistant District Commissioner, Jackson Rwahama, who deployed troops to the school. That is the only qualification that Museveni identified in him at 97 years, to appoint him State Minister for Regional Cooperation.

Revelations by FDLR officers

Various FDLR officers who have returned home voluntarily or captured, have revealed the Mateke's role in this coordination between FDLR and UPDF, specifically CMI.

A few months back, the FDLR spokesperson Ignace Nkaka, aka La Forges Fils Bazeyi, and the head of intelligence, Lt Col Jean Pierre Nsekanabo, were arrested on DRC-Uganda border coming from Uganda.

They revealed their meeting with Mateke and senior CMI officers, together with other armed groups fighting to remove the Rwandan government. CMI was advising them to work together for better support.

Mobilisation of RNC

President Museveni has also been mobilising RNC and other affiliated groups to form a joint fighting force.

Rwanda National Congress (RNC) is responsible for the terror attacks in Rwanda that claimed many innocent civilian lives.

RNC recruits were arrested by Uganda police at Uganda-Tanzania border carrying CMI travel documents. They were taken to court and released immediately to continue with their mission. The police officers who arrested them have paid a heavy price including imprisonment and dismissal.

The UN Group of Experts Report released on 31 December 2018, implicated Uganda as a part of a "recruitment network" for a coalition of P5" - an anti-Kigali rebellion led by Kayumba Nyamwasa.

The latest revelations came from the FLN spokesperson Nsabimana Callixte, aka Sankara, who pleaded guilty to all 16 charges and narrated how he met senior CMI officers and how they supported the attacks by this terror outfit in Rwanda.

Recently, President Museveni admitted meeting top RNC diplomats, Charlotte Mukankunsi and Eugene Richard Gasana, albeit "accidentally" as he claimed. How a President of a country meets people in his office accidentally remains a mystery.

All the above demonstrate how President Museveni is busy mobilising, training, financing, arming and providing all the required support to various armed groups fighting to remove Rwanda government.

Surprisingly, they are either genocidal forces or terrorist groups he is allying with to launch an offensive on Rwanda.

ii. Mobilisation of his own forces

Visiting army barracks

Early this year, President Museveni commenced visits to military barracks and sounding war drums. Reading his messages from one barracks to another, it was clear that the Commander-in-chief was preparing his commanders and soldiers for war.

The barracks visited included, Kakiri, Entebbe Airforce Base, Gulu, Masindi Artillery Division, and Singo.

As the news headline carried by his paper, The New Vision on March 23, 2019, reads: "Museveni starts inspection of UPDF Units". It continued: "The president has embarked on a nationwide on-spot working visits to UPDF barracks interacting with officers and men.

Museveni's mantra to officers and men of UPDF in all barracks was the same.

To fight for the people of Uganda.

To be patriotic.

To avoid sectarianism.

To master using and operating their equipment.

To apply NRA fighting spirit and principles.

Focus on national interests.

Promise to improve soldiers' welfare including free education of their children, housing, health facilities.

He is trying to invoke the long forgotten NRA virtues.

He may have to start with himself and his inner circle--to stop fighting for themselves; avoid sectarianism; focus on national interests and not personal interests; refocus on soldiers' welfare rather than his family and friends welfare.

He should start walking the talk, which is alien to him.

The paper added in the article: "The activity is aimed at assessing the troops' morale and preparedness to face any eventuality".

Museveni's motive for nation-wide visits of military barracks and interacting with officers and men of UPDF are therefore self-explanatory needing no further interpretation. It is down to assessing and raising the soldiers' morale and preparedness to wage war against the enemy.

The only enemy declared by Museveni is Rwanda, and the 'eventuality' is an all-out invasion of Rwanda.

Massive recruitment and training of new soldiers

According to the Minister of Defence, Adolf Mwesige, UPDF will recruit 3,000 soldiers in the 2019/20 financial year.

He argued before the parliamentary Defence and Internal Affairs Committee that: "The defence ministry requires an extra sh80.4 billion to cater for the salaries of 3,000 soldiers who will be recruited as well as the 10,000 LDUs who were recruited recently".

This is yet another sign of president Museveni's preparation for war.

Intensified Special Forces mountain training

The training of Special Forces for mountain warfare has of recent been intensified.

As carried in Chimpreports on 27 May 2019, "With the support of French instructors, Uganda has intensified military training of specialised units in mountain warfare. The development comes at the time of heightened tension in the region".

Knowing the Rwandan terrain, this training cannot conceal its objective.

Mobilisation and training of Reserve Force

In his security address to the nation in September last year, President Yoweri Museveni ordered for the recruitment of 24,000 LDUs.

"It will cost us an extra sh57b, but that is not a problem", he said.

In mid-March this year, President Museveni passed out 6,436 Local Defence Unit recruits.

In the headline carried by Chimpreports on 15 March 2019, "Museveni passes out 6,000 combat-ready LDUs, warns against destabilising Uganda".

The massive mobilisation and training of the Reserve Force is definitely to reinforce the army for military operations.

As Museveni stated, "Those who want to destabilise our country do not know our capacity. It is very big... Once we mobilise, you cannot survive".

Firstly, they were trained by the army in the army training facility Kaweweta, hence acquired military skills and are combat ready.

Secondly, they will be under the command of UPDF. Thirdly, it's on the passing out of the LDUs that Museveni warned, "Nobody can bring insecurity to Uganda, we have the capacity to defend ourselves".

Fourthly, Museveni told them they will be on active duty and will be remunerated.

Lastly, it's definitely unprecedented for the President and Commander-in-Chief to officiate the passing out of Local Defence recruits.

This demonstrates President Museveni's high gear preparation for an all-out invasion on his defined enemy.

Doubling defence budget for classified expenditure

The budget for defence for classified expenditure has grown from Sh 347bn in financial year 2017/18 to Sh 640bn in the financial year 2018/19.

At the beginning of April this year, Parliament authorised the government to borrow up to Shs 380bn from the domestic market to fund classified military activities.

The total defence budget has been increased more than two-fold from 1.5 trillion to 3.4 trillion.

The minister of Defence told the MPs that the government needs the funds urgently, "to improve the capability of Uganda's defence and security forces" and "to improve the security infrastructure".

The MPs complained that the extra allocation of 1.9 trillion was too much, calling it illegal and unacceptable.

This very urgent doubling of the defence budget coupled with massive recruitment of military and local defence units have all to do with preparation for an invasion.

President Museveni defensive campaign

My arguments above have centred on showing Museveni's anti-Rwanda offensive campaign.

However, in the course of this campaign, Museveni has been presented with a new domestic political dilemma that has pushed him to fall back and defend his political base, hence a defensive campaign.

He halted his nationwide visits of barracks, briefing and preparing soldiers for the impending all-out offensive, and started nationwide play-ground meetings with civilians, briefing and preparing them to shun Bobi Wine's calls for massive uprisings.

While FDC had been calling for defiance and Museveni had got used to it because it had minimum impact on his support, the incoming of the popular singer turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu, aka Bobi Wine, with his People Power slogan, changed the political scene. He enjoyed nationwide popular following, especially among the youth.

He has been instrumental in leading the victories of new members of parliament including Assuman Busalirwa (Bugiri Municipality) and Kassiani Wadri (Arua Municipality).

Recall that in both polls, Museveni with his security machinery immersed themselves in the campaigns till Election Day to the extent of planning an assassination of Bobi Wine but which unfortunately took his driver's life. Ironically, he is the one facing the court.

Museveni dreaded Bobi Wine's mobilisation capacity

Museveni's fear for Kyagulanyi was exacerbated by Algeria and Sudan's popular uprisings that toppled equally aged presidents. The Arab spring that had led to the demise of his longtime friend Gaddafi had left him paranoid about peoples' power if one failed to serve them.

The Algeria/Sudan uprisings had a significant impact on both President Museveni and Kyagulanyi. They both learnt the same lesson- "People have the power to remove dictators if well mobilised".

It's this dramatic twist of events that forced Museveni to shelve his offensive campaign in the military barracks to launch a defensive campaign on the civilian playgrounds to ward off Kyagulanyi's campaign threat.

He must protect and defend the civilian constituency from being mobilised by Bobi Wine into mass demonstrations. It's a contest for this decisive civilian constituency. But Museveni is ready and willing to pay any price to block demonstrations.

"Museveni donation money jumps to Shs 200 billion"

This was the Observer newspaper headline carried on 15 May 2019.

This shows how Museveni is determined to turn the Ugandans away from Bobi Wine by bribing them. People demonstrate against leadership because of service delivery failure.

The opposition is exploiting this failure. As the renowned Prof P.L.O. Lumumba has put it, "You promise heaven and deliver hell". That is what many Ugandans are tired of. This donation money could have provided services to the people and the opposition would have no entry point.

Blocking Bobi Wine rallies and concerts

Museveni's other weapon to defend the civilian constituency is blocking Bobi Wine from meeting the population.

Bobi Wine has been detained, tortured and charged with possession of weapons and other trumped-up charges.

Museveni has deployed and employed all state machinery and finances to make sure that Bobi Wine does not mobilise the people against him.

Makerere University under siege

Since the mass uprisings in Algeria led by university students, Museveni has deployed heavily armed military police in Makerere University. The University is currently under siege.

"So, the plan is to have the military police to intimidate everyone under the guise of keeping security," said one University professor.

The Guild President lamented: "This is not a military base and we are going to appeal to parliament to order for their removal because they have made our life miserable on campus".

In conclusion, from all the above, President Museveni is caught up in a dilemma of launching an all-out offensive on Rwanda the declared enemy, and the defensive campaign to protect the population from Bobi Wine's mobilisation for mass uprisings.

His initial mobilisation of soldiers for an offensive campaign has been replaced by playground civilian rallies to ward off Bobi Wine mobilisation for mass uprisings.

My humble counsel to President Museveni

It was again the French historian, diplomat and author Alexis De Tocqueville who posited that: "When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness".

With your popularity amongst Ugandans continuing to plunge downwards as indicated by the latest opinion polls conducted by Research World International (RWI)-(Six out of every 10 Ugandans believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction); the torture and incarceration of the opposition politicians; allying with genocidaires and terror groups; the siege on universities by the military; incarcerating innocent civilians and parading the dead; there is no doubt that your past is no longer illuminating the future.

That's why in the same polls, 65 per cent of the youth say you are leading Uganda in a wrong direction.

You recall the now famous 7-year-old Fresh Kid when asked 'to say something about Museveni', his reply was, "You are leading us badly". You should, therefore, hand over to the younger generation, lest, your spirit continues to walk in darkness.

Remember you can crush the flowers, but you can't stop the spring.

The essence of the African Union Peer Review Mechanism (PRM) is for leaders to borrow the best practices from other leaders. You need to borrow the best practices from leaders whose past is illuminating the future like President Kagame.

Therefore, instead of launching a military offensive on Rwanda, launch a study-tour offensive on how you can continue illuminating the future of your country.

Here you will regain the support of the youth whose spirits are walking in darkness, hence neutralising Bobi Wine strategy to remove you.

You may have to continue heeding Tinyefuza's advice; remember, you can never win a war if you have no cause. You used to preach this principle to your NRA soldiers during your liberation war.

Remember, transformational leadership is about service delivery, and not bribing and buying people with cash delivery. That is called transactional leadership.

The term limit or your age would not be a problem if only you could illuminate the future of Ugandans, especially the youth.

My counsel to President Kagame

President Museveni has shelved his all-out offensive on Rwanda, but he has not abandoned it.

Remember the political strategy of ailing regimes, "externalisation of internal crisis as a last tool of self-preservation". You are seeing it with your southern neighbour Burundi.

While Museveni may now be more focused on the defensive campaign to suppress mass uprisings, but as he continues to face an increasing political existential threat, he may at any time launch an all-out offensive on Rwanda.

He will be aiming at achieving two things. Firstly, he will divert Ugandans from the internal leadership crisis to the external war. To show Ugandans that all the problems they are going through are caused by Rwanda.

Secondly, war goes with the declaration of the State of Emergency. He will declare all meetings, gatherings and demonstrations illegal. Anyone that goes contrary is regarded as an enemy supporter and dealt with as an enemy of the country.

Mobilisations by Bobi Wine for mass uprisings will have been suppressed. He can then focus on his initial offensive campaign without the rear threat.

Remember, Threat = Intention x Capability.

Museveni's intention is very high, and he is busy mobilising the capability. Keep your forces on high alert.

The writer is a security expert on the Great Lakes Region.

See What Everyone is Watching

More From: New Times

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 600 reports a day from more than 150 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.