By David Himbara
General Paul Kagame appointed Pichette Kampeta Sayinzoga to head Rwanda Development Bank (BRD). Even though Kampeta is Kagame’s daughter-in-law, she should be forewarned – working in BRD is a kiss of death. BRD is the most dangerous place to work in Rwanda. Its former CEOs and chairmen either fled Rwanda, jailed, or even got killed in mysterious circumstances.
What is the problem with BRD? Money.
Development banks perform different roles from commercial banks. Development banks are designed to provide long-term financing to emerging businesses or governmental projects that have spinoff effects for generating prosperity. Unlike commercial banks, therefore, development banks enter riskier endeavours. In Kagame’s Rwanda, however, things get complicated. The ruling party, Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) is the largest business empire in the country, while at the same time running the government. RPF’s Crystal Ventures Ltd is in nearly every sector from food processing to aviation. This means that BRD is wide open to abuse – the rulers of Rwanda who run the government also run the development bank. This conflict of interest situation is what is known as “state capture” defined as corruption via “the use of public office/policy for private gain.” State capture in other words, refers to formal procedures through which a government bureaucracy manipulates state policies and laws in favour of private firms. This is why Rwanda’s BRD is a dangerous place. The RPF government in charge of a bank set up to develop businesses is like a fox guarding the hen house – the fox eats the hen. For BRD chairman or CEO, they must condone the RPF looting or they risk their lives in these mafia circumstances in which no one can be trusted.
Here is what has happened to previous BRD chairmen and CEOs
- BRD CEO Edith Gasana – she left Rwanda for good and became a Ugandan citizen instead.
- BRD Chairman Henry Gaperi – he was briefly imprisoned and left Rwanda for good. He lives in Canada.
- BRD Chairman Kalisa Mupende – he was imprisoned for nine years and was murdered in prison.
- BRD CEO Theogene Turatsinze – he moved to Mozambique and murdered there.
- BRD CEO Alex Kanyankole – he was thrown in prison.
It is now Kampeta Sayinzoga’s turn to run the mafioso BRD on the behalf of her father-in-law Kagame. How might her tenure end? Stay tuned.