The Kampala-Kigali feud is bad (2): Minority Report

Sunday June 16 2019


By Asuman Bisiika

Maj Gen Don Nabasa was recently replaced as commander of the Special Forces Command. Our information is that he has been scheduled to go for further military training in China or wherever is the fancy of the appointing authority.

And speculation is that there must be something behind his departure. Maj Gen Nabasa is said to have made some utterances about an unnamed enemy. And the speculation was that he meant the Republic of Rwanda. I am no soldier, but I can confidently say Maj Gen Don Nabasa’s remarks bordered on ‘commenting on policy’.

A soldier of whatever rank is always advised to understand, appreciate and differentiate the following: Policy (vision, always the preserve of political leadership); Command and Control (military structures); Admin (process); and Operations (execution of compact assignments).

Policy is a no go area for servicemen and politicians tend to protect this space vehemently. All said and done, I have failed to situate (in a meaningful way) Maj Gen Nabasa’s relief of command into the Rwanda-Uganda row.

Anyway, let us forget Maj Gen Nabasa’s relief of command and focus on the sigh of relief felt when news filtered in that the Government of Rwanda had opened its border with Uganda.

Yes, the border was opened, but our information is that all freight from Uganda destined for Rwanda is not allowed yet. And no Rwandan freight destined for Uganda is allowed. And Rwanda’s travel advisory ‘guiding’ her citizens against going to Uganda still stands.


Needless to say, Rwandan citizens face the risk of death using un-gazetted routes to cross into Uganda. So, in short, cynics and negativists would say, ‘we are still there’. The question is, what would it take for Rwanda and Ugandans to get their leaders to understand that they are hurting their people?

It is now very clear that the actions of the two governments do not represent any popular interests on both sides. The actions of the two governments, as I have said elsewhere, are guided by the huge egos of two men namely Mr Paul Kagame and Mr Yoweri Museveni.
For those interesting themselves in a war between these two countries, here is some strategic projection: Any fight between Rwanda and Uganda would lead into unintended consequences like regime change in one of the countries.

In the unfortunate event that there were to be a war, either party would want it to be short with clear objectives. Uganda would go for regime change in Kigali, while Rwanda would stop in Masaka and force a humiliated Uganda to a negotiation table.
For Rwanda, stopping at Mbarara would be strategic blunder. Taking the whole of western region up to Masaka would make better strategic sense.

But even with this madness and bad dream (always associated with war), at what cost (human and material resources) would be all these strategic whatever be effected? It is just crazy.

If push came to shove and these two men went to war, have these men factored in how the populations (and neighbouring countries) would react? Would Uganda’s docile Opposition turn militant and support the invaders? Would Burundi join the fray without even an invite from Uganda? Would the armed rebels opposed to both men take advantage…?

As I said earlier in these pages, all that so-called strategic projections for a possible war between Uganda and Rwanda are volongoto (null and nil) because these two men running (or ruining) their countries with iron fists know that what is at stake is not worth an international fight.

These two leaders should be urged to sit down and agree on one minimum: Open the border.

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of
East African Flagpost.