He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord. Proverbs 17.15
Rwandan propaganda organ The New Times reports on a new cathedral slated to be built for the Anglican Church of Rwanda in Gahini. The article talks up the collaboration of Uganda and Rwanda in fundraising for the construction. A follow up article talks about how much money was raised at an event in Uganda.
Many Ugandans involved in the fundraising effort are intimately tied to the corrupt regime of Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni.1 Indeed, “Gen. Salim Saleh Akandwanaho is expected to be the chief fundraiser.” General Saleh is Museveni’s brother and is well known for his corruption. The picture below shows Bishop Alexis Bilindabagabo of Gahini shaking Saleh’s hand.
A 2002 United Nations report from the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo outlined some of Saleh’s activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Read the report yourself, particularly pages 19 and onwards, to see all the details about Saleh. Saleh fronted CONMET, a company that specialized in Coltan trading and also the Victoria Group, cited for resource exploitation and tax fraud. The report says in part:
Criminal groups linked to the armies of Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe and the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have…have built up a self-financing war economy centred on mineral exploitation.
- The elite networks derive financial benefit through a variety of criminal activities including theft, embezzlement and diversion of “public” funds, undervaluation of goods, smuggling, false invoicing, non-payment of taxes, kickbacks to public officials and bribery.
- The elite networks form business companies or joint ventures that are fronts through which members of the networks carry on their respective commercial activities.
- The elite networks draw support for their economic activities through the networks and “services” (air transport, illegal arms dealing and transactions involving the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) of organized or transnational criminal groups.
The objective of the elite network in the areas controlled by Uganda has been to exercise monopolistic control over the area’s principal natural resources, cross-border trade, and tax revenues for the purpose of enriching members of the network.
The Uganda network consists of a core group of members including certain high-ranking UPDF officers, private businessmen and selected rebel leaders/administrators. UPDF Lieutenant General (Ret.) Salim Saleh and Major General James Kazini are the key figures.
…a paramilitary force is being trained under the personal authority of Lt. General Saleh which, according to the Panel’s sources, is expected to continue to facilitate the commercial activities of UPDF officers after UPDF have departed. This military group draws on dissidents from Jean-Pierre Bemba’s MLC, members of the Uganda-supported RCD-Congo including its leaders Professor Kin-kiey Mulumba and Kabanga Babadi, and others in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo who have supported UPDF in the past. It has been reported that Lt. General Saleh discreetly provides financial support for this new rebel group. The Panel’s sources have indicated that Heckie Horn, Managing Director of Saracen Uganda Ltd., is a key partner with Lt. General Saleh in supporting this paramilitary group and that Lt. General Saleh himself is a 25 per cent owner in Saracen. Saracen’s managing director also provides military training and arms to members of this group.
As in the past, the network continues to involve the transnational criminal group of Victor Bout. Mr. Bout recently purchased the Uganda-based non- operational airline company Okapi Air. The purchase of the company allowed Victor Bout to use Okapi’s licences. The company was subsequently renamed Odessa. The Panel is in possession of a list of outbound flights from 1998 to the beginning of 2002 from Entebbe International Airport, which confirms the operational activities of Mr. Bout’s aircraft from Ugandan territory. Currently, Mr. Bout’s aircraft share the flight times and destinations (slots) with Planet Air, which is owned by the wife of Lt. General Salim Saleh and which facilitates the activities of Mr. Bout by filing flight plans for his aircraft.
General Saleh’s Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) used child soldiers:
The spread of HIV/AIDS, the large numbers of child soldiers and the rape of women are other consequences of the pervasive armed conflict. Many soldiers are young boys who hardly seem capable of wielding the weapons they carry. The issue of child soldiers surfaced when 700 young recruits from the Bunia area were discovered at a UPDF training camp in Tchakwanzi, Uganda, of whom 165 were between 14 and 16 years of age.
The fact that a man who:
- is the brother of a dictator;
- steals minerals from a neighboring country as part of a criminal ring;
- evades taxes;
- used child soldiers in a horrendous war with widespread crimes against humanity;
is the chief fundraiser for an Anglican Cathedral should raise all kinds of red flags for PEARUSA and all its American parishioners. After all, American bishops like Steve Breedlove and others are counterparts with Bishop Alexis. Surely, they can inquire about this matter and not accept pat answers for what is going on – correct? Or will they ask their congregations to “walk with Rwanda” and pay not attention to the man behind the curtain, so to speak?
What do you think they will do?