Kampala, Uganda – A group of elders from Uganda of Rwandan origin have asked government to take keen interest and investigate the motive behind the Abavandimwe group and their ‘so called’ re-branding campaign.
The elders, including Gad Gasaatura who hails from Ntungamo, Kwefuga Elijah from Kyankwanzi, Butera Sam from Masindi, Sande K. Wilson from Nakasongola, Dr Ephraim Kamuhangire-a retired civil servant who also hails from Ntungamo, Jennifer Twesigye from Wakiso, Rev Musinguzi Edward from Kiboga among others, told reporters at a press conference in Kampala on Wednesday that the Abavandimwe group was highly suspect and its leadership uncultured.
“The government, security agencies and all Ugandans should take keen interest to understand the motivation behind ABAVADIMWE group and their so called rebranding campaign hiding under the cover of defending the interests of the common Banyarwanda,” Gad Gasaatura said on behalf of the elders forum.
According to Gasaatura, a former member of the Constituent Assembly (CA) that promulgated the 1995 Constitution of Uganda; “There might be something bigger than what meets the eye.”
Africa Tembelea however understands that the key reason for the Abavandimwe campaign led by Mr. Frank Gashumba is to end segregation in government services, such as in the issuance of the national identity card and passports.
They argue that the Ugandan Banyarwanda are confused with the neighbouring Rwandans, and that it is for this reason that they seek to be renamed Abavandimwe, which they say means brethren.
“By the mere fact that the name of our tribe links us to the neighbouring country, many people are mistaken to think we are foreigners. However, there are those, who deliberately use this as a weapon of segregation,” Mr Lawrence Muganga speaking on behalf of the Gashumba group told journalists recently.
According to the Gashumba group, many Ugandans of Rwandan origin are often denied Identity Cards and passports by the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) and the Immigrations Directorate just because the name of their tribe links them to a neighbouring country, which complaint the Elders Forum also agree with. However, Gasaatura said as the Elders Forum, they totally disagree with this change of nomenclature since remedies for all issues affecting Ugandan Banyarwanda are being sought through relevant government authorities.
“The forum of elders would like to assure the Ugandan Banyarwanda that all issues affecting them have been discussed and presented to the relevant authorities in government and remedies are being worked on,” Gasaatura said.
He revealed that as the Banyarwanda community in Uganda, they regret any injuries, abuse and injustices caused by the Abavandimwe group and its uncultured leaders, adding that; “Ugandan Banyarwanda have never appointed or delegated the ABAVANDIMWE group to represent the Ugandan Banyarwanda anywhere.”
“We therefore disassociate ourselves from that group and its activities. We also caution anyone associating and conducting business with this group to do so at their own risk,” he added.
In the same spirit, he called upon all Ugandan Banyarwanda and other Ugandan communities to disassociate, ignore and disregard the rebranding campaign and other activities of this group with the utmost contempt it deserves.
“The campaign and unnecessary ethnic debate it opens is a threat to peace, unity and National security since it is provocative, divisive and likely to cause ethnic hatred and eventual bloodshed,” he said.
According to Gasaatura, a Ugandan Munyarwanda’s claim for Ugandan citizenship rights is not a favor but an inherent right, and that Ugandan Banyarwanda are very respectful of others, law abiding, compassionate, patriotic to Uganda and its interests and do not seek any special treatment from other Ugandan citizens.
The group also appealed to all those concerned to fast track the East African integration so as to break down the imaginary borderlines that have caused more pain to the various communities straddling the various points across Uganda borders.