By David Himbara
James Gatera has resurfaced after mysteriously vanishing in March 2017. Prior to his disappearance, Gatera had served just one year as CEO of Crystal Ventures Ltd, the US$500 million business empire owned by General Paul Kagame and his ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). Gatera has resurfaced – Kagame has appointed Gatera the ambassador to Israel. What is the relationship between Kagame and James Gatera? Gatera was Kagame’s money-man for 18 years – having begun as director of finance in Kagame’s office, CEO of the Bank of Kigali, a government-owned institution, and then the CEO of Crystal Ventures Ltd. Kagame used James Gatera in four capacities for 18 years as follows:
- 2000 to 2005 – Gatera was Kagame’s director of finance in president’s office.
- 2005 – 2007 – Gatera was Kagame’s man at the Bank of Kigali as deputy managing director.
- 2007 – 2016 – Gatera was CEO of the Bank of Kigali, after the Kagame regime bought the bank ufrom Belgian investors using the Rwandan pension funds.
- February 2016 to March 2017 – Kagame removed James Gatera from the Bank of Kigali and made him the Chief Executive Officer of Crystal Ventures Ltd, the ruling party’s business empire.
After serving as CEO of Crystal Ventures for just one year, Gatera vanished. Four years later, Gatera has resurfaced as an ambassador.
In the past decade, Kagame changed his top men at Crystal Ventures six times. On average, no head of Crystal Ventures lasts one year and six months. But Gatera set a record. He barely lasted a year. And yet he was highly regarded – or so it seemed – after serving Kagame for 18 years. The current top man is Jack Kayonga, who is in his second round at the helm, having previously led Crystal Ventures Ltd. James Gatera has now resurfaced as Rwanda’s ambassador to Israel.