Maj. Gen. Albert Murasira was on Thursday appointed the new Minister for Defence in a cabinet reshuffle that saw his predecessor, Gen. James Kabarebe, move to the Office of the President as a Senior Defence and Security Advisor.
Murasira, who has been the Chief Executive Officer of Zigama Credit and Savings Society, a military bank, is a professional soldier who joined the military in 1988. He was commissioned in 1989.
Born on November 11, 1962, in Maniema, a vast province in the east of the DR Congo, Murasira, 56, is married to Marie-Goretti Rafiki.
They have three children, a son and two daughters.
His birthplace, Maniema, borders the provinces of Kasai-Oriental to the west, Orientale to the north, North Kivu and South Kivu to the east, and Katanga to the south.
Murasira did his primary and part of his secondary education in Maniema before moving to Rwanda.
He completed high school at the Byimana School of Sciences in Ruhango District, Southern Province, in 1983, and joined the former National University of Rwanda, now University of Rwanda.
Murasira has become the 10th Minister for Defence since Rwanda became independent in 1962.
Exceptional as they come, there are probably very few defence ministers in the world who are generals and mathematicians at the same time.
When asked how he felt upon being appointed, he told The New Times that he was “of course surprised, but confident.”
He added: “Surprised because there are many Generals who can hold this position. Confident because the Ministry of Defence is a well-established institution and we will continue working as a team.”
Murasira holds a Master’s of Science in Project Management with Merit from the University of Liverpool in the UK.
Murasira attended the former National University of Rwanda, from 1983 to 1988, and received a Bachelor of Sciences in Mathematics in 1986.
This was followed by a degree in Mathematics in 1988.
The country’s new Minister for Defence holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Administration from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (2004).
In 2011, he obtained a Diploma in Defence and Strategic Studies from the National Defence University of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
In January, he was among the 12 senior officers promoted from Brigadier General to Major General.
He was promoted from Colonel to Brigadier General – along with some other senior officers – in 2012.
According to the Ministry of Defence, Murasira “went through all required military courses from Officer Cadet Course up to Defence Strategic Studies and has held various command and staff appointments.”
He also has vast past experience in various other fields and positions.
Most recently, from February 2012 to October 2018, he has served as Chief Executive Officer of Zigama Credit and Saving Society.
In March, the institution reported that it posted Rwf9.4 billion in net profit during the previous twelve months, surpassing its target of Rwf6.3 billion, a feat Murasira then attributed to the bank’s good management and commitment of staff.
From January 2007 to February 2012, he was Chief J1 – Joint General Staff in charge of Administration and Human Resource Management at the Rwanda Defence Force.
From January 2006 to January 2007, he was Deputy Commandant of Rwanda Military Academy, in Gako.
Between December 2004 and December 2005, Murasira was a Staff Officer in the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) in charge of Information Technology in the Communication and Information System Department.
From October 1999 to October 2004, he was Director of Planning in the Ministry of Defence. Earlier, from 1995 to 1998, he was a visiting (part-time) Lecturer at the former National University of Rwanda teaching mathematics in the Faculty of Applied Sciences.
Three-time national chess champion
Murasira likes sports in general. But he is most known for playing chess, a two-player strategy board game, which is currently gaining prominence in the country.
An avid chess player, he was national male chess champion three times – in 1988, 1999 and 2000.
In 2000, when Rwanda first participated at a biennial world chess tournament that attracts the best players from all over the world, the 34th Chess Olympiad that was held in Istanbul, Turkey, he led the team, playing on the tough board 1.