About me.

Andrew M. Mwenda is the founding Managing Editor of The Independent, Uganda’s premier current affairs newsmagazine. One of Foreign Policy magazine 's top 100 Global Thinkers, TED Speaker and Foreign aid Critic

Monday, February 4, 2019

Michela Wrong’s war on Kagame

How racial prejudice led The Guardian to publish an article that is basically a hit job on Rwanda

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | On January 14, The Guardian newspaper in England published a 5,800 word long article by Michela Wrong titled “Rwanda’s Kashogi.” It accused President Paul Kagame of Rwanda of complicity in the murder of former Rwandan spy chief, Patrick Karegyeya. Wrong makes no effort to substantiate her claims with even the most rudimentary evidence. She relied on a litany of rumours.

The article is silent on why it has taken the South African authorities five long years to bring the case to court. Karegyaya was killed in Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton, an upscale area of Johannesburg. From the car park to the reception of the hotel, one goes through four cameras, from the reception through the elevators to the rooms, another three to four cameras. Is it possible that the murderers of Karegyeya would walk into the hotel, kill him and leave without being recorded on the CCTV cameras?

The article only suggests that the South African authorities will present 30 witnesses. But does not mention any evidence from CCTV recordings. Did Rwanda have capacity to destroy this evidence in a South African hotel? This is where Wrong’s biases blind the journalist in her.

Secondly, Wrong disregards accusations government of Rwanda has made against Karegyeya i.e. that his political party, the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), works with the FDLR rebel group, remnants of those who committed the 1994 genocide and which it accuses of terrorism. I met Wrong in London in 2014 and gave her information I had acquired privately about the link between RNC and FDLR. She did not mention it even once in her long article.

It is possible Wrong did not trust me, which is fine. But it is intriguing how she disregards accusations of the government of Rwanda against Karegyaya and his RNC. It is clear from the article that Wrong thinks Kagame personally and those he works with generally are bloodthirsty. That is why she accuses them of killing Karegyeya without any compelling reason. It also leads her to compare Karegyeya with Saudi journalist, Jamal Kashogi. Yet while Kashogi was only voicing dissent against the Saudi government, Karegyeya is accused by Rwandan intelligence of involvement in terrorism.

If the government of Rwanda were convinced Karegyeya was involved in terrorism, wouldn’t they be justified to assassinate him just like the government of the USA was justified in killing Bib Laden? America, Britain and Israel are everyday hunting for terrorists and assassinating them. In all these cases, the government is the investigator, the prosecutor, the judge and the executioner of the sentence. Wrong’s article is silent on this vital issue.

It is possible Rwanda had wrong intelligence on Karegyeya’s involvement in terrorism. However, governments act on the basis of the intelligence they believe, not on objective truths. Therefore, even if the government of Rwanda killed Karegyeya, it would only have done so because it believed he posed a severe and immediate threat to her national security. Wrong ignores this.

Karegyeya had been a chief of intelligence in Rwanda. During his tenure he built a close relationship with then South African vice president, Jacob Zuma and the Tanzanian foreign minister, Jakaya Kikwete both of who later became presidents of their respective countries. When he ran away from Rwanda, he went to live in these countries causing their relations with Kigali to turn hostile. Shouldn’t an article on Karegyeya’s death attract a sentence on what nations do to their intelligence officials who turn rogue?

Wrong is blind to the existence of other threats to Karegyeya’s life. For example, he had been a chief of intelligence in Rwanda and in that capacity he must have stepped on many people’s toes. Didn’t these people have motive to kill him? Besides not long before his death, the family of a Rwandan-Burundian musician, Chris Matata, accused Karegyeya of killing the musician over a woman. Didn’t this family have motive to kill him?

The time it has taken the South African authorities to bring this case to court even further suggests the possible involvement of Pretoria in Karegyeya’s death. I did explain this theory, backed by circumstantial evidence, to Wrong when we met in London. Someone tipped me off that Rwanda intelligence had been involved in a misinformation campaign against Karegyeya with South African intelligence.

Apparently Rwandan intelligence deliberately leaked information to South African intelligence suggesting Karegyeya was working on reconciling with Kigali and would soon return home. The South African intelligence had been involved with Karegyeya in anti Rwanda operations, themselves linked to rich mineral deals in Congo DR. This source told me that South African intelligence feared if Karegyeya reconciled with Kigali and revealed their dealings he would cause them a lot of embarrassment. They moved quickly to eliminate him. I shared this theory with Wrong in London. My source was an American intelligence officer, and I shared this with Wrong. Why did she ignore this?

This is where Wrong and other Western journalists reveal their true colours of racial prejudice. When Obama kills bin Laden, it does not make him a murderer. Indeed during his presidency, Obama’s regime announced proudly almost daily and routinely its assassination of “terrorists.” In all these cold-bloodied killings, Obama and his CIA were investigators, prosecutors, judges, the jury and the executors. No single Western media or journalist referred to Obama as a cold bloodied murderer, never mind in Libya and Iraq, these guys can be legitimately accused of mass murder.

While journalists like Wrong see themselves as holding their governments to account, they actually promote the racial prejudices of their societies and the sadistic imperial policies of their governments against people in poor countries. The constant projection of governments in Africa as corrupt and murderous only reinforces the racial prejudices of their societies and justifies their government interventions in poor countries to promote regime change with disastrous consequences as we have witnessed in Libya and Iraq.

Karegyeya introduced me indirectly to Wrong by suggesting I read her book, In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz. I loved it in large part because she demonstrated that the claims that Mobutu Sese Seko looted $8 billion from Zaire were spurious. This led me to believe she is free of the stereotypes on Africa that blind her colleagues from assessing governments in Africa with impartial lenses. But her articles on Rwanda expose that even her she is not free of the racial prejudices of Western journalists on Africa. On Rwanda, she has done a hit job.



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