Nairobi News

NewsWhat's Hot

‘Kagame listened to Ramaphosa’s telephone calls’

Rwanda President Paul Kagame’s government is battling accusations of listening in on telephone conversations involving his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa and several other high-profile politicians and personalities.

This is according to a detailed report by global reporting investigations, the Pegasus Project, that was published by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

Besides Ramaphosa, Rwanda is reported to have listened to several other conversations involving top politicians, military officials, and journalists in neighbouring Uganda. This act is also known as wiretapping.

Among those targetted by Rwanda include Uganda’s ex-Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda and Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa, and Joseph Ocwet, director general of External Security Organisation (ESO).

“The list of selected numbers [for tapping] also shows that Kagame’s government may have used the Pegasus to target high-ranking political and military figures in neighbouring countries,” OCCRP reported, citing Dr Rugunda and Burundian Prime Minister Alain-Guillaume Bunyoni.

Rwanda has had frosty relations with both countries, with the Uganda diplomatic fall-out culminating in the 2019 closer of the busiest Katuna/Gatuna border point to-date.

“Among the Ugandans on the [wiretapping] list, OCCRP has identified numbers belonging to long-time senior Cabinet member Sam Kutesa, former [Chief of Defence] Forces General David Muhoozi, senior intelligence officer Joseph Ocwet and leading opposition figure Fred Nyanzi Ssentamu. The selection [of the telephone numbers for tapping] coincided with a visit by Kagame to Uganda,” the investigative organisation wrote.

For publicly unstated reasons, President Museveni last year tapped Adonia Ayebare, who served as Uganda’s ambassador to Rwanda before taking over the post of Uganda’s permanent representative to the United Nations in New York, to lead the shuttle diplomacy to thaw the icy Kampala-Kigali diplomatic relations.

The President, who is also the commander-in-chief, dropped Gen Muhoozi and instead assigned him as State Minister for Internal Affairs, while both PM Rugunda and Mr Kutesa were fired.

Mr Ssentamu on the hand is the brother of former presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, whom the Ugandan government alleged was being bankrolled by an unnamed neighbouring country.

Also targeted for hacking by Rwanda, according to the report, is Ugandan veteran journalist Andrew Mwenda, the founder and chief executive officer of the Independent Magazine, a friend to both President Museveni and his counterpart Paul Kagame.