March 3, 2019

Rwanda-Uganda Relations: ‘Is it a Crime to Own Property in Uganda?’

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Foreign Affairs Minister and Government Spokesman Dr Richard Sezibera at a Unity Club event in Rwanda

Some Rwandan officials and ordinary citizens are dismissing a threat by Uganda Government Spokesperson Ofwono Opondo on Saturday that they will ‘expose’ officials who continue to comment on the latest spat between Kigali and Kampala.

Opondo said yesterday: “Some of these officials talking have land and other property here. It is irresponsible on their part to utter anything. They will force us to expose their secrets [about the properties they own in Uganda]”

In reaction, Rwandans took turns in WhatsApp groups, Twitter and Facebook saying there was nothing illegal about owning property in Uganda. Some called the statement arrogant and uncalled for while others said it negates the spirit of the East African Community where citizens of the community can own property anywhere in the community.

Others interpreted Opondo’s threat either as a technique to silence critics of his government’s unfriendly Rwanda policy or whistleblowing on possible hiding of ill-gotten wealth by some officials.

As one of the officials who has made statements on the worsening relations with Uganda in his capacity as Foreign Minister and Government Spokesperson, Dr. Richard Sezibera stated: “I have no home in Kampala, no business in Uganda…if I did it wouldn’t be a crime but I don’t”.

Dr Sezibera, like tens of thousands of Rwandans, grew up and studied in Uganda and participated in the liberation of Rwanda.

Thousands fought, and others like President Paul Kagame held key command positions in the 1980-85 war in Uganda that brought President Yoweri Museveni to power in January 1986.

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