Rwanda Cabinet begins 7-year term today with swearing
Kigali – The 25-member cabinet team will on Thursday mid-morning take the Oath of Office before President Kagame to mark the start of government business – but with three positions still vacant.
The 22 cabinet ministers and 3 state ministers will – who will be continuing their tenures after President Kagame and PM Bernard Makuza agreed to retain the whole team, will swear before a joint session of Parliament. As usual, the fun-fare function will be attended by the country’s elite and diplomatic corps.
President Kagame was sworn-in for his seven-year term on September 06 – and reappointed PM Makuza to head the next government – essentially continuing in the same slot after 10 years. Makuza was sworn-in on September 14.
The cabinet is constituted by the Prime Minister in consultation with the President. The team which will swear today mid-morning is drawn from about four political parties – with the ruling RPF in control of all the major portfolios such as Defense, Finance, Local Government, Health, Infrastructure and Agriculture.
Currently, the Premier Makuza does not belong to any political party – after the MDR party he belonged was disbanded by Parliament several years ago over promoting ethnic divisionism and Genocide ideology. During the election campaigns, he wore T-shirts inscribed with the photo and names of President Kagame, BUT NOT THE RPF party.
Acting within the 30-day period within which a new government must be in place after the President has been elected, the PM will deliver his plan for where he wants the country to heading.
Addressing the new team, President Kagame is expected to indicate that a lot has been achieved, but that much more needs to be done. When accepting the Prime Minister’s Oath, the President rallied all officials to “pull” their shirts farther – as more needed to be accomplished to change the lives of millions who cast their votes for him.
The President has also complained about hygiene in schools – and the dirt in several towns such as Rubavu and Rusisi districts – both border urban centers.
As government begins the tenure in office, a controversial UN report alleging Rwandan troops massacred Rwandan refugees in DR Congo, is hanging over the country. President Kagame has not yet spoken about it in Rwanda – leaving that to officials at all levels who have taken turns to rubbish the 545-page document, but he has commented on it when outside Rwanda.
Government critics speaking from outside are also becoming more vocal with even threats of armed rebellion. Internally, the opposition politicians seem to be preoccupied by individual troubles such as court cases or just do not have any platform from where to speak. There have barely been any interviews on local media in several months as local media shy away from being associated with the embattled opposition figures.
However, the fierce critics often speak on the BBC and VOA Kinyarwanda services, and other foreign media.
A new Bill is currently before Parliament which will bring new changes on how government operates probably beginning next year. The President will be giving an annual address setting the government agenda. The Prime Minister will be required to appear before Parliament on regular basis.
The cabinet team taking the Oath today has three vacant positions. When Louise Mushikiwabo was moved to Foreign Affairs, the Information Ministry continues to be supervised by the Cabinet Affairs Minister, Protais Musoni.
In the Ministry of Infrastructure, in addition to the full cabinet minister, there are 3 junior portfolios – with only that of Minister of State in charge of Energy and Water occupied by Ms. Coletha UWINEZA RUHAMYA.
Others are Transport, and House & Human Resettlement. President Kagame and PM Makuza said earlier this year that the vacant slots would be filled at a later date.