By David Himbara
Kagame’s six-person team and its purpose
Kagame’s youthful but ruthless team comprises of Ines Mpambara, Irene Zirimwabagabo, Clare Akamanzi, Louise Kanyonga, Diane Karusisi, and Iza Irame. These are Kagame’s B-Team of lieutenants running Rwanda. With Mr. Fixer James Musoni who is Kagame’s A-Team in deep trouble, the six-person team of youthful women is fully in charge now. The work of the B-Team is threefold — praise Kagame, spy on others, and destroy careers. This Kagame team may be described as toxic, or destructive machinery designed to control all aspects of Rwanda’s public service to maximize Kagame’s power at all costs. Concepts such as goals, delivery, tasks, resources, effectiveness, motivation, and the well-being of professionals are alien to this Kagame B-Team. Serving power is the only game in town — Rwanda does not exist. Only Kagame does. Everyone must follow orders, however infantile, or you are destroyed.
Ines Mpambara, Kagame’s chief of staff
The head of the B-Team is Ines Mpambara, Kagame chief of staff for nearly 10 years. As chief of staff, Mpambara is therefore not only charged with running the Presidency but the nation as well. She is General Kagame’s right hand woman. Her rise to power was spectacular. Within a year in Kagame’s presidency, Mpambara had crushed all her seniors, including those with decades of policy experiences, PhDs and even a military general. Armed with a Bachelor Degree in journalism, she easily competes with Kagame in Machiavellian ruthlessness and brutality against perceived enemies. Kagame and Mpambara are made of same cloth — they both badly lack an ethical core that guides their interaction with the people they lead. The two never heard of values like fairness, decency, equitable behavior, empathy, and humanism.
Irene Zirimwabagabo, Kagame’s principal private secretary
Irene Zirimwabagabo is the Principal Private Secretary to Kagame. She takes care of President Kagame’s own office, including speech-writing. Teamed with Mpambara as her boss, watch out for this one. Irene is another tiger — cross her and you are ‘finished’. Lying, manipulation and blame games are her specialties. Irene is a self-claimed strict Adventist-Christian, too. How she reconciles her values with working for a man whose trademark is violence at home and abroad is an irony of ironies. Irene simply adores her leader and will do anything for him, no matter the human cost.
Clare Akamanzi, CEO of Rwanda Development Board
When Rwanda Development Board (RDB) was created to provide a one-stop center for investments and exports, Kagame’s micromanagement led to high leadership turnover that persistently rendered the agency useless. Between 2008 when RDB was established and 2018, Kagame changed its CEOs five times. That is an average of two years per CEO. Claire Akamanzi served under four CEOs specializing in spying and reporting them to Kagame. Then Kagame gave her the CEO position. She sees her job as singing praises to Kagame, exaggerating Rwanda’s social and economic achievements, and reporting on colleagues suspected of not towing the line. That is Clare Akamanzi — who is supposedly responsible for strategies to transform Rwanda into a vibrant economy sustaining a middle-income population by 2020.
Louise Kanyonga, Rwanda’s registrar of companies
At the age of 26 years and straight from school, Kagame made Kanyonga the Registrar General of Rwanda. Kagame had previously sponsored her for Masters degree at Harvard. The exact connection between the boss and the lieutenant is still unknown. This is the person who, as the Registrar of Companies, is responsible for business and other institutions under the relevant Acts in accordance with Rwanda’s economic and trade policies. And naturally, the person who promotes institutional effectiveness to assist commercial activities and regulatory compliance. While it takes a day to register a company, Kagame can unilaterally seize and destroy a private company in a day, too. Kanyonga is ready to stamp Kagame’s illegal orders.
Diane Karusisi, CEO of Bank of Kigali
Kagame made Karusisi managing director and CEO of Bank of Kigali in 2016. This, after Kagame, removed James Gatera from that position and made him CEO of Crystal Ventures Ltd. Gatera was soon dumped from Crytal Ventures and ”disappeared.” Karusisi is now at the helm of Rwanda’s largest commercial bank by assets — which is effectively a Kagame’s bank as I have shown in greater detail in my book Kagame Ate Rwanda’s Pension.
Iza Irame, Chief Corporate Officer of Crystal Ventures
Iza Irame is the Chief Corporate Officer of Crystal Ventures Ltd, the ruling party’s US$500 million business empire. Irame is sister-in-law to Diane Karusisi, the Bank of Kigali’s CEO. And Diane Karusisi is the sister of Major Ruki Karusisi, Kagame’s security detail.
The prerequisite of joining the Kagame B-Team
The pre-requisite to join Kagame’s B-Team of crusaders is a willingness to become single-minded in manufacturing and sustaining Kagame’s ‘positive’ image. In return, he gives them all powers to execute this duty. Exclusively Tutsi, these young women are only answerable to Kagame — all public servants including cabinet ministers are utterly terrified of these crusaders. Clearly, Mr A-Team, James Musoni, has a formidable replacement in form of Kagame’s B-Team.