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Ethnicity in Rwanda – Who Governs the Country?

by US Embassy in Rwanda.

Analysis of the ethnic make up of the leadership of Rwandan political and military institutions by the US Embassy in Kigali in May 2008 which reveals that Rwanda is tightly led by a clique of individuals, mostly English speakers, from the Tutsi minority ethnic group, who recruits a few figureheads from the ethnic Hutu majority. The US Embassy expresses its serious concerns about the long-term stability of Rwanda.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08KIGALI525 2008-08-05 16:34 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy KigaliVZCZCXYZ0000
DE RUEHLGB #0525/01 2181634

S E C R E T KIGALI 000525
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/14/2028
Classified By: CDA Cheryl Sim for Reasons 1.4 (b) & (d)


¶1. (C/NF) An analysis of the ethnic breakdown of the current Rwandan government shows Tutsis hold a preponderant percentage of senior positions. Hutus in very senior positions often hold relatively little real authority, and are commonly “twinned” with senior Tutsis who exercise real power. The military and security agencies are controlled by Tutsis, generally English speakers who grew up as refugees with President Kagame in Uganda. The 28-member cabinet is evenly split among Tutsis and Hutus, but most key ministries are in the hands of Tutsis (Hutu ministers do head Health and Agriculture, ministries which affect the lives of most Rwandans). While the Rwandan government (GOR) presents itself as a champion of national unity and equal opportunity, de-emphasizing ethnic identity and ostensibly opening positions throughout society to those of skill and merit, political authority in the country does not yet reflect this ideal. Ethnic identity is still keenly felt and lived, and ordinary Rwandans are well aware of who holds the levers of power. The long-term stability of Rwanda depends upon a government and ruling party that eventually shares real authority with the majority population.

End summary.

Tutsis Dominate Senior Positions

¶2. (C/NF) Post analyzed 118 senior positions in the government, from ministries to parastatals to independent regulatory bodies, as well as the defense and security establishments to assess the ethnic composition of the current Rwandan government (GOR). Post’s review of ethnic membership showed two thirds of the senior positions are occupied by Tutsis — including ministers, ministers of state and secretaries general in the various ministries, the heads of the armed services and security services, and the heads of dozens of government offices. This according of senior positions has held steady over time — Post has reviewed internal embassy surveys of ethnic breakdowns of senior positions from several years ago and found a similar two-thirds/one-third breakdown. These percentages are far different from the ethnic breakdown commonly accepted for the two groups, at 15 percent Tutsi and 85 percent Hutu (Twas are normally accorded one percent or less of the population). Some senior Tutsi officials privately assert that the Tutsi population, whose official size was suppressed during the Hutu-power Habyarimana era, is growing as a percentage of the population, but there is no statistical analysis to support this.

It Starts at the Top: Powerful Tutsis, Secondary Hutus

¶3. (C/NF) President Kagame is a Tutsi. So, too are the important Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Justice, Infrastructure, Local Government, and Information. Close Kagame confidant, Chief of Defense Staff General James Kabarebe, is Tutsi, as are the chiefs of the army and air force, the military district commanders and the heads of the Rwanda National Police and the National Security Service (although some Rwandans joke that short-statured Air Force Chief Muhire is Twa). Indeed, all are English speakers who grew up in Uganda. Some major positions are held by Hutus, but their actual authority often appears limited, and they are widely perceived to be “twinned” with more powerful Tutsi colleagues.

¶4. (S/NF) First Twin: Prime Minister Bernard Makuza: A Hutu, he ostensibly occupies the second-most powerful position in the Rwandan government. Affable but ineffectual, he defers in all matters great and small to President Kagame. Qhe defers in all matters great and small to President Kagame. Second Twin: Defense Minister General Marcel Gatsinzi. A Hutu, he is entirely eclipsed by Chief of Defense Staff James Kabarebe. Third Twin: Minister of Internal Security Sheik Musa Fazil Harerimana (in charge of police and prisons). A Muslim Hutu, and head of the PDI political party, he defers to his ministry’s Secretary General Joseph Mutaboba, a Tutsi and former ambassador to the U.S. Fourth Twin: Supreme Court President Aloysia Cyanzayire. Although she is reputedly a competent and hard-working judge, Supreme Court Vice President Sam Rugege, a Tutsi, is very much the public face of the court, and appears to hold administrative authority as well. Fifth Twin: Long-serving Central Bank Governor Francois Kanimba, whose Deputy was Tutsi Consolate Rusagara, influential in economic circles, recently replaced by equally important regime insider and formerly head of Tristar (a business entity controlled by the Rwandan Patriotic Front) Ephrem Twahirwa, also a Tutsi.

¶5. (C/NF) This is not to say that all Hutus are devoid of any authority within the government. Hutus hold some key ministries that impact the lives of average Rwandans: — Health Minister Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo is energetic and well-regarded (although a very energetic and internationally renowned physician, Agnes Binagwaho, a Tutsi, heads the high-profile HIV/AIDS portfolio); — New Agriculture Minister Christophe Bazivamo has held senior positions within the RPF (although he is far from the inner circles); his training as agricultural engineer may bring new life to a badly-managed ministry (he has, however, a well-connected Tutsi deputy minister, Agnes Kalibata); — Minister of Trade and Industry, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, the respected number two at Finance in the previous cabinet, has moved up to her own ministry. But Hutus often serve in second-tier positions, such as the Ministries of Gender, Sports and Culture, and the new East African Community. The very active Sports and Culture Minister Joseph Habineza appears frequently at major public events, for example, but his influence within senior circles is small.

Other Balancing Does Occur

¶6. (C/NF) Ethnicity is not the only factor in how the government apportions its positions. The government and ruling RPF vet candidates closely for every senior position, and appointments reflect the need to carefully balance gender, language group, home province/district, country of residence if raised as a refugee outside Rwanda, and political affiliation (given Rwanda’s nine political parties and the formal need under the constitution to share political authority). There are regular stories of splits between francophone and anglophone Tutsis, as well as among the “Ugandans,” those English-speakers raised in refugee camps in Uganda. For example, Finance Minister James Musoni and Director General of the National Security Services Emmanuel Ndahiro, both raised in Uganda, are reputedly engaged in a long-standing “cold war” as they struggle to place their respective loyalists in various government positions. Minister of Information Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister of Foreign Affairs Rosemary Museminali, Minister of Infrastructure Linda Bihire, all Tutsis, head important ministries (by law, 30 percent of the cabinet must go to women).

Ethnic Identity — Used as a Shield?

¶7. (C/NF) As Ambassador Arietti noted in his departing message (reftel), Rwanda remains a deeply divided society, and average Rwandans still identify closely with their ethnic origins. Some Hutus argue that the massive gacaca program, now completing the judgment of over one million (Hutu) genocide cases, like the nationwide campaign against “genocide ideology,” which by definition only Hutus could manifest, particularly now that the 1994 genocide has been renamed “the Tutsi genocide,” are secondarily intended to keep Hutus off balance, unwilling to serve in high places (for fear of being brought low) and generally out of office. For example, new Minister of State for Education Theoneste Mutsindashyaka recently addressed 750 secondary school headmasters, and, according to the pro-government New Times, angrily told them that 80 percent of them were “masterminds of genocide ideology.” Assuming that headmasters match the general ethnic breakdown in society, the Minister essentially accused every Hutu in the room being a genocide ideologist.


¶8. (C/NF) For all the government’s exhortations to Rwandans to abandon ethnic identities and work in common on national goals, a policy that in fact has much to recommend it, the Qgoals, a policy that in fact has much to recommend it, the political reality is self-evidently otherwise. People remain keenly committed to their ethnic identities, and everyone is aware of which person holds which position and to which group he belongs. While the practical end-point for such a project may be years away. if this government is ever to surmount the challenges and divides of Rwandan society, it must begin to share real authority with Hutus to a much greater degree than it does now.

End comment.

Cabinet positions and ethnic identity

¶9. (S/NF) Below is a listing of cabinet positions and ethnic identity:

Prime Minister Bernard Makuza: Hutu

Minister of Local Government Protais Musoni: Tutsi

Minister of Agriculture Christophe Bazivamo: Huti

Minister of Foreign Affairs Rosemary Museminali: Tutsi

Minister of Internal Security Sheikh Mussa Fazil Harerimana: Hutu

Minister of Finance James Musoni: Tutsi

Minister of Defense Marcel Gatsinzi: Hutu

Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama: Tutsi

Minister in the Office of the President Solina Nyirahabimana: Hutu

Minister for Cabinet Affairs Charles Murigande: Tutsi

Minister of Trade and Industry: Monique Nsanzabaganwa: Hutu

Minister of Health Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo: Hutu

Minister of Education: Daphrose Gahakwa: Tutsi

Minister in the Presidency for Science and Technology Romain Murenzi: Hutu

Minister of Infrastructure Linda Bihire: Tutsi

Minister of Natural Resources Stanislas Kamanzi: Hutu

Minister of Sports and Culture: Joseph Habineza: Hutu

Minister of Youth Protais Mitali: Tutsi

Minister of Information Louise Mushikiwabo: Tutsi

Minister of Gender and Family Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya: Hutu

Minister of State for Community Development and Social

Affairs Christine Nyatanyi: Hutu

Minister of State for Energy Albert Butare: Tutsi

Minister of State for Environment, Water and Mines

Munyanganizi Bikoro: Tutsi

Minister of State for Industry and Investment Vincent Karega: Tutsi

Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education Theoneste Mutsindashyaka: Tutsi

Minister of State for Agriculture Agnes Kalibata: Tutsi


[Source: Wikileaks]

1 comment

1 Riona { 09.13.11 at 10:10 am }

My name is Riona, and I am a third year student at the University of Birmingham, studying International Relations and Political Science. I am currently working on the research for my dissertation and I would really appreciate any help that anyone can offer on this topic. For my dissertation, I want to evaluate how the gacaca courts and have impacted upon the overall peace-building process in Rwanda. I would greatly appreciate it if anyone with greater knowledge of the situation than myself would be willing to discuss this topic via email ([email protected]) or if you could offer any sources of information that may be helpful to my research that would be fantastic. Many thanks!

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