Rwandan businessman, Tribert Ayabatwa Rujugiro, has spoken out on why Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, wants his (Rujugiro) businesses in Uganda including a Meridian Tobacco Company closed.
While addressing Rwandan leaders during the country’s National Leadership Retreat at Gabiro combat training school recently, Kagame said he had shared information with President Museveni on how Tribert Rujugiro, a wealthy Rwandan national running business in Uganda bankrolls subversive activities by RNC ‘rebels’ against Rwanda.
Kagame further said, “President Museveni replied to me that he didn’t know Rujugiro but that he would look into the matter.”
He however stated that Museveni told him that Rwanda should always learn to differentiate between business and politics and that Museveni has since ignored his request to close Rujugiro’s businesses in Uganda.
Rujugiro refuted the Rwandan leader’s accusations against him as false and described President Kagame’s statements as careless.
Read details here: https://www.softpower.ug/museveni-has-ignored-me-rejected-to-expel-rwandan-businessman-rujugiro-kagame/
Now, in an extensive interview with SoftPower News, Rujugiro has said Kagame is simply jealous of his wealth.
“Kagame knows I am single and I can live on USD 1,000 a month. I worked from humble beginnings as a clerk and I have over the years built my businesses. I care for our people and I help, Rwandan authorities are aware of that,” Rujugiro said.
Asked why Kagame accused him and not other businessmen, Rujugiro said Kagame was simply jealous of his investments in Uganda.
“I have invested in Arua (Uganda) and I have businesses in 24 other countries; Angola, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Nigeria, Angola,” he told this news website.
“If I closed my business in Uganda, I would still be runnng business in other countries. Income from by investments in Uganda not even 10% of my income. If I I wanted to fund activities of the so-called dissidents, I could still use the income from the rest of my businesses outside Uganda,” explained Rujugiro.
The businessman said there is no reason for him to fund activities against the government of Kigali, saying President Kagame has his own intern problems which he should deal with.
“These allegations are false and President Kagame knows very well that I am not interested in politics. When I funded the struggle that brought him into power, I was a refugee who had no passport from my own country. That was a legitimate struggle,” Rujugiro said.
“We were all suffering outside the country, my brothers and friends, so many people. I now have no reason to involve myself into politics,” Rujugiro added.
He said the authorities in Kigali clearly understand his capacity, saying if he “opted to help the rebels Kagame claims are fighting him (Kagame), it will not take less than six months to defeat him”.
On Rwandans blocked by Rwandan authorities from traveling into Uganda, Rujugiro says, the people (Rwandans) back home are not happy with Kagame.
Rujugiro who fled Rwanda many years ago owns the Meridian Tobacco Company, a USD 20 million (Shs 72 billion) operation which opened in the West Nile town of Arua last year.He also owns Africa’s biggest tobacco company that has businesses in United Arab Emirates, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria, South Sudan and Tanzania.
A number of Rujugiro’s businesses in Rwanda were auctioned by the Rwandan government. It is not clear whether, apart from Uganda, Kagame has asked leaders of other countries in which Rujugiro runs businesses to close them and expel the businessman.
Rujugiro cleared by UN on Rwanda’s accusations
Rwanda has accused Rujugiro of funding Rwanda National Congress (RNC) headed by Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, former Rwanda army chief of staff who is exiled in South Africa as well as other Rwandan exiles.
Kagame’s government has over the years said that Rujugiro supports anti-Rwanda rebels based in DR Congo. Nyamwasa has survived three assassination attempts all blamed on the Rwandan government. Another Rwandan senior army officer, Karegyeya was also murdered in South Africa.
But in 2012, the UN through Steve Hege, the Coordinator of Group of Experts on DR Congo Extended “Pursuant To Security Council resolution 2021(2011)”, indicated that their findings did not point to any clues linking Rujugiro to any rebel group operating in DR Congo.
“The Group is not aware of any link between Mr Rujugiro and any armed groups in Eastern DRC. The group has not found credible evidence to corroborate or substantiate the allegations that he sent vehicles to support armed groups in North Kivu Province, DRC,” UN stated.
“Furthermore, as Mr Rujugiro has never been designated by the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning Democratic Republic of Congo (the sanctions committee), he is not and has never been subject to the UN travel ban or assets freeze,” further reads the UN letter to Rujugiro’s lawyer, Daniel Arshack.