KIGALI - The country’s Executive, Legislature and Judiciary are three independent branches but all in one broader national team, with a common national vision, President Paul Kagame has said. Speaking at the occasion of the swearing in of five new cabinet members,- four of them women- Kagame’s message to the country’s senior leaders was that each of them had a responsibility to propel the nation to the envisioned development future by duly performing their respective roles.
“While each of these state organs is in a way an independent team, they are all part of one bigger team that seeks to steer the country towards realizing its vision. When the Judiciary fails to execute the laws, the entire country is affected; if Parliament does not play its part, the whole nation is affected; and so is the Executive,” the Head of State said.
He said the country’s development objectives would be in vain if there was no cohesion and team spirit among the state players, urging the new cabinet members to take up their new jobs with enthusiasm.
Kagame, who sounded optimistic about his new-look 28-member cabinet lineup, drew applause when he jokingly appealed to those present not to underate the new women ministers’ capacity, owing to their “soft voices”.
Noting that there are many women among the new ministers, the President sounded confident about their capacity to deliver. “They will do great work…. I am confident they will fulfill their duties.”
Those who took office include ministers Linda Bihire (Infrastructure), Monique Mukaruliza (East African Community) and Louise Mushikiwabo, who is the new Minister of Information in the Prime Minister’s Office. Others are the new State Minister for Agriculture, Dr Agnes Mathilda Kalibata, and State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, the only male entrant in the new cabinet announced on Friday.
Also sworn-in yesterday was Deputy Ombudsman Augustin Nzindukiyimana, who replaced Bernadin Ndayishimye.
Yesterday’s ceremony at Parliamentary Buildings, Kimihurura, was not without hilarious moments.
While Mutsindashyaka attracted the biggest applause as he stood up to take his oath of office, as many probably reflected on the days of his no-nonsense tenure as Kigali City mayor before he became the Governor of Eastern Province two years ago, the House went abuzz when Bihire virtually failed to read out the oath in Kinyarwanda and the President had to come to her rescue by granting her permission to read its English version.
But it was Kalibata who caused rib-breaking laughter.
The former Secretary General of the Agriculture ministry drew prolonged laughter when she mistakenly read the opposite of a section of the oath, in which, instead of vowing to strive for the betterment of the nation; she said she would not “strive for ……” For that and other articulation flaws, she was asked to recite the oath again.
Besides Mutsindashyaka, Mushikiwabo equally stole the show when everyone around was amused by her apparent confidence and steady steps when she was shaking hands with the country’s top five, after penning ink on her oath.
The 40-minute long ceremony was capped by a two-photo session outside the Lower House plenary hall; one involving the sworn-in officials, the President, Senate president Dr Vincent Biruta, Speaker Alfred Mukezamfura, Chief Justice Aloysie Cyanzayire and Prime Minister Bernard Makuza; and the other involving the state’s first five, and the six newly sworn-in officials plus their spouses.
President Kagame also had a brief interactive session with the newly sworn-in officials during which he personally congratulated each of them and shook hands with their respective spouses.
The function was also attended by all the seven cabinet ministers who were relieved of their duties in the latest reshuffle. The seven – four men and three women – were all seated in the same section as their former colleagues who remain in cabinet, diplomats, top military and police chiefs, and other senior leaders.
Thirty-six percent of the new cabinet lineup are women, who have seen their representation at that level rise from 30 percent on Friday.