Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA) has dismissed as false social media rumours claiming the plane that brought Uganda presidential election ballots first landed in Kigali.
RCAA is a regulatory authority, which oversees and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in Rwanda. The first batch of Uganda’s election ballot papers arrived at Entebbe Airport aboard an Ethiopia Airlines plane, ahead of the February 18 election.
On January 30, 2016 were ripe on social media claiming some pallets had been offloaded at Kigali international airport.
Uganda’s social media critic, Tom Voltaire Okwalinga (TVO), claimed he had information that “the Ethiopian airline plane carrying Ugandan presidential ballot papers, made a stopover at Kigali international airport, where a number of pallets which the source has now identified as similar to the ones containing the ballot papers that were unloaded at Entebbe, with their serial numbers and amount were offloaded in Kigali.”
TVO even claimed that electoral commission chairman, Eng Badru Kiggundu, had declined to allow representatives of opposition parties to ascertain this information. Contrary to the allegations, FDC youth activist, Moses Byamugyisha, was even seen at the airport representing his party when the plane landed.
Okwalinga further claimed that the plane was handed over to the “Zimbabwean air traffic controllers by their South African counterparts at exactly 5:55am. The flight then apparently proceeded to depart from Kigali international airport at 7.51am local time”.
“It was packed at the cargo end of the airport where the pallets were unloaded and two unidentified people alighted the plane and were picked by a vehicle, that had come and packed near the plane. At around 11.35am local time, it is alleged that the plane taxed on the run away and took off for Entebbe. This plane arrived one hour later at Entebbe,” Okwalinga stated.
To the contrary, Kiggundu told the press that the plane had delayed in South Africa due to bad weather.
“As the Almighty God of all Creation in God’s infinite mercy decides to do a close focus on Africa, the Ethiopian Airlines chattered plane to deliver ballot papers, makes a tour in Rwanda and a pallet of ballot papers is removed mbu [sic] to ease weight for the plane,” wrote Charles Rwomushana, a former head of political intelligence at State House.
Rwomushana added: “The Civil society, the Election observers ought to put pressure on the Ethiopian Airlines and the South African State to come clean on this issue. The South African State that has mediated in several Election related conflicts in Africa should do the right thing.”
The Insider cannot independently verify this allegation for lack of an eyewitness account of the report, hence treat it as a social media rumour.
Rwanda dismissed the rumour as false
On Monday morning. Rwanda civil aviation authority also dismissed the report as false. “It’s confirmed that the mentioned flight wasn’t received at Kigali International Airport,” the authority said on its Twitter handle @RwandaCAA.
“According to the flight data information by the Air Traffic control Unit at Kigali International Airport, in the past four to five days and earlier, no flight of that nature from South Africa made a stopover or landed at Kigali International Airport and the ground handling department doesn’t have recordings of the alleged flight,” Silas Udahemuka, the Director General of Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA) said in a statement.
The authority urged Ugandans not to believe the allegations still circulating on social media.
The government of Uganda has not yet clarified on the rumour.
However, government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, today told press that opposition was engaging in a social media campaign to taint the image of President Yoweri Museveni.