President Paul Kagame has spoken out on a recent wave of removal from office of senior government officials over matters related to accountability, pointing out that people should not act surprised whenever measures are taken to hold people accountable.
Without mentioning names, the Head of State seemed to allude to recent decisions that saw senior officials suspended from office over accountability issues.
Recently removed officials include the Minister of Internal Security Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba, the Governor of Southern Province Emmanuel Gasana and the Governor of Northern Province Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi.
He said that when leaders take an oath, they commit to working towards transforming the country and when they deliver on the expectations well, Rwandans benefit. He added however that when they don’t deliver, there are processes to hold them accountable which take effect.
“All of us leaders should always uphold that when it comes to fulfilling our duties in public service, we should not confuse our own interest with that of the country,”
“When you take the oath to fulfil this duty, it means that you accept this heavy responsibility to work for your country and our people and to transform what we have into even more resources,” President Kagame said.
He added that whenever people are given assignments, like the ones the new leaders sworn in for, they also accept to be accountable to the public.
“Being sworn in here means that you have accepted to work for the country and the citizens. Since we use public resources to fulfil our duties, where it becomes necessary, we are held accountable when we don’t use these resources as expected,”
“It shouldn’t be surprising. Being asked to be accountable is nothing new,” he said, adding that sometimes when the situation goes out of hand, a stop is put on whatever people are doing so that they are held accountable.
He said that in some instances, people have to be questioned at different levels because accountability issues differ in weight but when people are asked to be answerable, many tend to act shocked or surprised.
“Most times when officials are removed from their positions and asked to be accountable, some people act shocked as if this is something new. I don’t understand this very well,” he said, adding that it doesn’t matter how long people have been in office whether it is five or 10 years.
He said that often people, including the individuals themselves act surprised whenever an action is taken, adding that people should know that lack of accountability has an impact on the country. President Kagame said that the government will not stop holding officials accountable.
President Kagame told the new leaders that they took office at a difficult time, which requires them to work in unconventional ways to deliver on their obligations.
“Difficult times such as these make your work even more challenging. It requires us to work in unconventional ways but times like these of the pandemic also teach us important lessons we can apply in difficult or in normal times. There is no reason we will not prevail,” he said
He said that leaders meeting expectations requires an extraordinary effort at the time the country is still battling COVID-19.
He however said that the country has adjusted to the new normal of doing things, pointing to the swearing-in ceremony itself which was held at Village Urugwiro, with social distancing observed, instead of the usual ceremony at Parliament.
These sworn-in leaders include Prof. Manasseh Nshuti, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of the East African Community (EAC) and Dr. Jean-Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agricuture.
Other leaders sworn-in include Richard Muhumuza, a Judge in the Supreme Court, Agnes Nyirandabaruta Murorunkwere, the Vice President of the Court of Appeal, Emmanuel Kamere, a Judge in the Court of Appeal and Geraldine Umugwaneza, a Judge in the Court of Appeal.
Also sworn-in is Deogratias Minani Bizimana, a Member of Parliament and Abbas Mukama, the Deputy Ombudsman in charge of Preventing and Fighting Corruption.