Friday, March 24, 2006

IBIHWIHWISWA: Rwanda: Cabinet Reshuffle: What Could Have Cost Them Their Jobs?

The New Times (Kigali)
March 22, 2006
Posted to the web March 22, 2006
James Munyaneza

President Paul Kagame on Saturday, March 14, 2006 shook up his cabinet for the second time in barely seven months. While the August 20, 2005 reshuffle was largely in response to the then finance minister Dr. Donald Kaberuka's highly-celebrated victory at the African Development Bank (ADB) with no single firing, the latest changes saw three full ministers out. The President also reshuffled three full ministers and promoted two state ministers to full ministers.

The development comes just shortly after the government retreat held last month at Akagera Game Lodge in Kayonza district and hot on the heels of sweeping administrative and local territorial reforms. The reshuffle puts to a halt speculations of reductions in the number of Cabinet ministries from eleven to eight. Instead, there was an increased number of full ministers from 17 to 18 and a decrease of state ministers from 12 back to eleven. The changes have introduced a new ministry- Ministry for Science, Technology and Scientific Research under the President's Office, bringing the total number of ministers under direct supervision of the Presidency to two.

While the reshuffle has probably not come as a surprise to many, some changes have been unexpected at least at this material moment. Professor Manasseh Paul Nshuti, who was announced Kaberuka's replacement on August 20, has not been left to complete even a single fiscal year. He has been transferred to the Ministry of Public Service, Skills Development and Labour, effectively ending Andre Bumaya's relatively long spell in the post-genocide cabinet.

James Musoni replaced Nshuti at the finance and economic planning ministry, leaving Protais Mitali to take charge as the Minister of Commerce, Industry, Investment Promotion, Tourism and Cooperatives, up from the post of a state ministry in the same ministry. Kagame picked the Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Service, Skills Development and Labour Vincent Karega as the Minister of State in Charge of Industry and Investment Promotion.

Christophe Bazivamo was moved from internal security to the lands, environment, forestry, water, and mines ministry. He was replaced with newcomer Sheikh Moussa Fazil Harerimana, who was, early January, appointed the Governor of the Southern province. Bazivamo, who has since held various high-ranking portfolios both in the government and the ruling Rwandese Patriotic Party (RPF) since the 1994 Genocide, replaced Drocelle Mugorewera who has been axed after over five years in Cabinet.


One of the changes that might not have surprised many is the removal of Professor Romain Murenzi from the education ministry. The new ministry was detached from the Ministry of Education which was until last Saturday called the "Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Scientific Research." Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya was elevated to succeed Murenzi at the now smaller education ministry, and the development effectively scraps the state ministry in charge of higher education which had been re-introduced in the August 20 reshuffle. This leaves the education ministry with only two ministers-Mujawamariya and Joseph Murekeraho (State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education) instead of the previous three. During the recent economy. He blamed them for straying away from the core mission of the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) by introducing non-IT courses contrary to the original purpose. Analysts partly attribute this failure to the latest changes in the m inistry that has been taking the lion's share in every fiscal year for most of the past twelve years. However, keen observers of Rwanda's education system also argue that Murenzi could have lost that ministry because he had increasingly failed to address some pertinent problems like the ongoing controversy surrounding the new salary structures of lecturers.

Nonetheless, it has been argued that the President's move to create a separate ministry for Science and Technology, and above all, place it under his direct control, is an indication that he is struggling hard to ensure that the government does not inexcusably fall short of its goal of eventually turning the country into a regional ICT hub. Obviously, though he maintains his full ministerial privileges, Murenzi's influence has considerably reduced with nearly no staff answerable to him. But being the President's choice for the new ministry, Murenzi--a former US-based university don- will have the necessary confidence that the President still trusts him.


Bumaya, who was a member of the first Cabinet formed after the inauguration of President Kagame and Prime Minister Bernard Makuza early 2000, was fired at a time when his ministry was under investigation by the (MP Ezechias) Rwabuhihi ad hoc committee over alleged irregularities that have marred the ministry for years. He is among others, accused by most lawmakers, trade unions and other civil rights groups, of implementing the massive retrenchment of public servants prior to the creation of the Constitutional Public Service Commission; failing to create a national labour policy; and malpractices in the hiring and firing processes. It will also be recalled that, in an unveiled yet clear reference to Bumaya, President Kagame last month gave him as an example of Cabinet ministers, who go around complaining that they don't posses recruitment powers. He castigated such ill-complaints saying they were only bent on taking the country back to the old corrupt regimes. One Member of P arliament described Bumaya's three year-spell at the helm of the public service ministry as a challenging tenure "given his failure to successfully carry out the Public Service Reforms." Bumaya is also the president of PDI, a Muslim-dominated political organization. And Saturday's reshuffle could most probably mark Bumaya's fall from grace to grass.


The sacked infrastructure minister will be remembered as one of the most unlucky politicians. He was appointed a Cabinet minister just two years ago and removed from parliament where many politicians' mistakes pass unnoticed. Reports say he too has been a victim of himself. It is alleged that the government lost millions of money in the ongoing public auction of government cars. During his tenure as minister, Bizimana, an engineer by profession, has also been cited in several scandals.


Just seven months as finance chief, Prof. Nshuti has been asked to relinquish office to fast-progressive Musoni. While unveiling the 2006 Budget last October in parliament, Nshuti promised never to release a coin to anybody without convincing him about the intended action. He said then that the major innovation he had introduced in his Frw 404.7 billion-budget was that it was a result-based budget. Already it had been claimed that some Cabinet ministers have been uncomfortable with Nshuti. Kagame last month said some ministers were complaining that Nshuti does not easily release funds. It is also said that some ministers are not at good terms with the former Kenya-based university don. Observers also say that Nshuti could be one of the government officials who President Kagame said were frustrating donors. The President lambasted some ministers who claim they are busy to meet donors at the expense of many government projects. "He did not mention him by name but certainly a fi nance minister plays a big role when it comes to a donor relationship," a source close to the Cabinet said.

Other sources also claim that Nshuti had already sacked many employees left behind by Kaberuka. A source at the ministry said the minister was aimed at building his own team, which triggered resentment among staff members. Few days after Nshuti's accession to the finance portfolio, the Claver Gatete became the ministry's secretary general and appointed him ambassador to UK, in a move, analysts; say could have aimed at giving chance to the new minister to prove his critics wrong. Nshuti is said to be a no-nonsense professional economist, an academician too.


Having joined the Cabinet in August 2001 first as State Minister for Tourism, Lands and Resettlement, Mugorewera has been among the ministers who have had a relatively long stint in Rwanda's post-genocide administration. She will be remembered as an aggressive environmentalist who has put the country's vegetation back to the recovery path. Millions of trees were planted, and materials that are hazardous to environment like polythene bags were banned under her tenure. However, it is argued that Mugorewera has failed to successfully implement sustainable environment-friendly policies. She slapped a ban on tree felling and made life difficult for brick and charcoal dealers due to lack of viable alternatives.


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