Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has hinted at firing more ministers in the coming days, accusing them of lying, carelessness and indiscipline.
At the Leader’s Retreat on Sunday hosted at the Gabiro Military Training Centre, Kagame warned that some officials “could be next”, following the firing of three top officials over the last three weeks, among them Minister of Health Diane Gashumba.
Dr Gashumba, who has served as Minister of Health since 2016, was sacked last Friday following “a series of habitual gross errors and repeated leadership failures,” the Prime Minister’s Office announced.
But speaking at the National Leadership Retreat, President Paul Kagame accused Dr Gashumba of lying to him about the availability of kits to test individuals for the deadly Coronavirus, Covid-19.
President Paul Kagame broke the ice on Sunday afternoon during the annual leadership retreat, where he gave an account leading up to Dr. Gashumba’s exit from cabinet.
He said that before the departure for the retreat, he had a light bob moment.
He thought that it would be important for all participants to be screened for Corona Virus, “include me, without exception,” he narrated to about 400 participants at the retreat who left Kigali headed to Gabiro Combat Training Centre on Saturday afternoon.
“I had been told a few days ago that in the event of a corona virus outbreak, everything is in place and that we are ready, ready to go [to respond],” the President said.
The President had given instructions to his aid, Director of Cabinet in the Office of the President, Ines Mpambara, to ask Minister Gashumba to make the arrangements for the screening.
In response, the President explained, the Minister undermined the order, proposing that participants should not worry and sarcastically suggested that prayers would be enough.
In the exchange with the President’s aid, Minister Gashumba was first asked how many devices were available to conduct the exercise. She apparently said 3500, and that taking out 400 would not be an ideal decision.
The aid told the Minister that there were no discussions because it was an instruction from the President, and advised her to “call the President” and give him all those excuses.
Meanwhile, the President had also instructed his aid to inform other officials, including security organs.
While all this dramatic exchange was unfolding between the Dr Gashumba and Mpambara, one of the security chiefs dispatched a team to the ministry of health to investigate and establish the truth of the matter.
His team found out that actually the ministry has only 95 devices, as opposed to the 3500 devices earlier reported by the Health Minister.
The report was sent to the President. He then called the Minister. “They are telling me you only have enough for 95 people, is that correct,” the President asked her. “Yes, it is true,” she told the President. “But you said you have 3500?” the President asked her.
The Minister went into a long story explaining herself, full of lies, the President said. At this moment, the whole audience was silent.
He then accused former State Minister for Education, Isaac Munyakazi, of accepting a bribe of Rwf500,000 (about $550) to doctor school rankings.
“Munyakazi met officials of some school that had been ranked last and they asked him to rank it among the top schools. He complied by putting the school among the top schools. He was awarded just Rwf500,000 for it. If I had not fired him, he would be here with us and none of you would come up to ask me why. That is how you have normalised bad behaviour,” President Kagame told the officials.
He said he sacked the Minister for Justice, Evode Uwizeyimana, for displaying “bad manners on several occasions.”
“Evode parked his vehicle in a place that people are not supposed to park and then tried to enter a building without being checked. The security guard followed him and politely told him that he must be checked but he instead beat her and threw her to the ground,” President Kagame said.
“But it was not the first or second time. This is how he has been conducting himself and some of you knew this and you were quiet about it. You had shown him that he could get away with such behaviour. Which kind of people are you?”
President Kagame has hinted that more officials could be heading out the door.
Among the embattled ministers include Minister of Defence Major Gen Albert Musasira and Minister of Internal Security Gen Patrick Nyanvumba.
The President said the two ministers must explain a case regarding the state of national hospitals and warned that they could also be on their “way out”, without divulging further details.
In December last year, President Kagame fired Ms Seraphine Mukantabana, former chairman of Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission, over mismanaging the commission. Mr James Musoni, a long-serving top official, was dismissed as Minister of Infrastructure in March 2018.
Mr Musoni, however, returned to government in October last year when he was appointed ambassador to Zimbabwe. In October 2018, President Paul Kagame sent home four senior officials for “gross misconduct” and also sacked an entire unit at the Ministry of Health for “wasting public resources”.