The Cabinet last Friday made sweeping changes in the civil service, and set September 15, 2008 as the date for the country’s second parliamentary elections since the 1994 Genocide.
In a surprise move, the Cabinet announced former minister and presidential advisor, Dr Ephraim Kabaija, as the new Governor of the Eastern Province, succeeding Theoneste Mutsindashyaka, who was appointed the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education in the March 7 reshuffle.
In a meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame at Village Urugwiro, the Cabinet also replaced Prof. Chrysologue Karangwa as the Rector of Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), and replaced him with a British national, Prof. Abraham Appa Ogwu.
It also relieved Joshua Mbaraga of his duties as the Director General of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), naming Lt. Col Dr Richard Masozera as his replacement. Masozera has been a security advisor to Prime Minister Bernard Makuza.
The meeting further named former African Development Bank (AfDB) official, Gerald Zirimwabagabo, as the Executive Chairman of Rwandair, the national carrier whose director general, Manzi Kayihura, was arrested on Thursday on charges of abuse of office.
The appointment means that Zirimwabagabo, who has for months been acting as Rwandair board chairman, will now double as the company’s board chairman and managing director.
Thus his appointment as the first person to occupy that position effectively writes off the position of director general, formerly occupied by Kayihura.
Also appointed is Dr Anastase Kimonyo who became the Director General of Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS), according to a statement signed by Cabinet Affairs Minister Dr Charles Murigande.
Kimonyo takes over from Dr Tito Migabo, who was last October acquitted of corruption related charges by Nyarugenge Court of Higher Instance, after spending about five months in Kigali Central Prison, best known as 1930.
Migabo had been at the helm of the Kicukiro-based institution since its inception in 2002.
The appointment of Dr Kabaija to the position of Eastern Province governor is one of the surprises of the new announcements, largely due to bitter relations the former Director of Cabinet in the President’s Office had with cattle keepers in that province during his days as Agriculture minister.
The bad blood between Kabaija and the farmers started flowing since his controversial decision for the slaughter of tens of heads of cattle, whose owners had allegedly breached measures to combat foot-and-mouth disease in that region.
But Kabaija will probably be helped by the fact that the territorial borders of the Eastern Province – the country’s largest province – extend well beyond the former borders of what used to be Umutara province, the stronghold of cattle keepers, some of whom saw their cows confiscated and led to Kigali butcheries under Kabaija’s orders.
Kabaija, who has served in public service for years, is also likely to find a relatively friendly ground, thanks to radical policies by his predecessor Mutsindashyaka, who had introduced ambitious programmes aimed at turning the province from a famine-prone region to the country’s granary.
However despite the changes, Prof. Karangwa, who is also the president of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), spoke at KIST’s sixth graduation ceremony yesterday in the capacity of Rector. He moved to the helm of the institution in June, 2006, when he swapped places with Prof. Silas Lwakabamba, of the National University of Rwanda (NUR).
Also appointed during Friday’s Cabinet meeting were Narcisse Musabyeyezu and British-born Prof. Philip Brierley, who became the Inspector General in the Education ministry, and KIST’s vice rector for Administration and Finance, respectively.
The Cabinet further named board members for various public institutions, appointing the Head of Strategy and Policy Unit in the President’s Office, Dr David Himbara, as the board chairman of the Human Resource and Institutional Capacity Development Agency (HIDA).
Others appointed board chairpersons are Esdras Nkundumukiza (Social Security Fund of Rwanda), Dr Marc Cyubahiro (RBS) and Dr Grace Kabaija Umulisa who replaced Rev. Nathan Gasatura as the board chairman of the National Aids Control Commission (CNLS).
The meeting further re-appointed Dr Jean Baptiste Habyarimana and Pastor Antoine Rutayisire as President and Vice President of the National Unity and Reconciliation (NURC), respectively. Other NURC commissioners also saw their mandate renewed.
The Cabinet also confirmed Dr Jack Abdoulie as the Resident Representative of the World Health Organisation in Rwanda, as well as Ambassadors Apichit Asatthawasi (Thailand – resident in Nairobi, Kenya), Fidel Ayogu (Nigeria – resident in Kampala, Uganda) and Lisa Filipeto of Australia, also based in Nairobi.
The two British nationals appointed to lead the country’s main science and technology institution have vast experience, according to Education Minister Daphrasa Gahakwa.
She said Prof. Abraham Appa Ogwu, a British of Nigerian origin, holds a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Manchester, UK, and has been working in the Slim Film Centre of the University of the West of Scotland.
As for Prof. Philip Brierley, Dr Gahakwa said, the British academic holds a PhD in Systems Engineering from the London University, UK, and a Masters in Natural Sciences Physics from Cambridge University.
He has been heading a university college in Oman. “We believe they will propel KIST to another level,” she said. Such sweeping changes across the public sector are the second to be announced since last month’s Cabinet re-shuffle which saw as many as seven ministers dropped, and five state ministries wiped off the Cabinet line-up.