By David Himbara
The justice minister position in Rwanda is a curse. Of the 8 justice ministers appointed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front regime, two died mysteriously after removal from office; two were unceremoniously dropped and sent overseas as ambassadors; one was fired and joined the ranks of untouchable professionals languishing in poverty. The average survival rate for a justice minister in Kagame’s government is 3 years.
General Paul Kagame on September 22, 2021 officiated at the swearing-in of his newly appointed justice minister, Emmanuel Ugirashebuja. The regime has had 8 ministers of justice, most of whom barely survived the experience intact. Serving as justice minister in Rwanda is a kiss of death. The first justice minister in the RPF-Kagame regime was Alphonse Nkubito who lasted a year from 1994 to 1995. Nkubito, an outspoken voice for human rights and the rule of law, mysteriously died in 1997 after surviving two assassination attempts. Next came Marthe Mukamurenzi who also lasted only one year from 1995 to 1996. Faustin Ntezilyayo followed, serving three years from 1996 to 1999. Ntezilyayo was to miraculously resurface as Chief Justice in 2019. After Ntezilyayo came Jean de Dieu Mucyo who served from 1999 to 2003. Mucyo mysteriously died in the Rwandan senate where he was serving in 2016. After Mucyo came Edda Mukabagwiza who served in 2003–2006 before being sent to Canada as ambassador.
Tharcisse Karugarama was next, serving from 2007 to 2013, after which he became an unwanted man with no prospects for work in Rwanda. Karugarama’s removal in 2013 came shortly after an article in the Guardian cited him as opposing a third term for his boss, Kagame. Johnston Busingye who took over in 2013 managed to survive until 2021, when he embarrassed his boss by admitting that the private jet that brought Paul Rusesabagina from Dubai to Rwanda was chartered by the government. Now sentenced to a 25-year prison term, Rusesabagina was tricked to board the Rwanda-bound flight believing that he was travelling to Burundi. Kagame fired Busingye and appointed him as ambassador to the UK. Enter Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, Kagame’s new justice minister. Wish him luck. Stay tuned.