Diplomatic Reshuffle in Rwanda: New Envoys Appointed Amid Controversy

Rugira Amandin

In a cabinet meeting held on Thursday, January 25, 2024, the Rwandan government announced several changes in its diplomatic representation abroad.

One of the key changes is the recall of Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Zambia, Rugira Amandin. This move comes after a video surfaced, showing Amandin making controversial remarks about Zambia, which led to its subsequent removal from public platforms. In the video, Amandin reportedly described Zambians as “inept” and “lazy,” attributing the high ownership of shops in Lusaka by Rwandan refugees to this perceived inefficiency. These comments sparked significant backlash, prompting an official response from Joseck Kunda, an advisor to Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema.

Replacing Amandin, Emmanuel Bugingo, previously serving as a lawmaker, has been appointed as the new High Commissioner-designate to Zambia. This appointment marks a significant shift, potentially aiming to mend the strained relations following the controversy.

Additionally, the cabinet meeting saw the appointment of James Ngago as Rwanda’s Ambassador to Switzerland and the United Nations in Geneva. Ngago takes over from Rwakazina Marie Chantal, who previously held these responsibilities.

In a further development, Alison Heather Thorpe has been confirmed as the new UK High Commissioner to Rwanda. Thorpe, succeeding Omar Daair, who has been in office since January 2021, previously served as the Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes and Head of the Southern and Central Africa Department at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office.