By David Himbara
In General Paul Kagame’s world, the most desired characteristic in managers is total loyalty and obeying his orders. And impulsively, Kagame shuffles his managers like he changes his shirts. In the last ten years, he changed Rwandair CEOs six times — Manzi Kayihura, Gerald Zirimwabagabo, Rene Janata, John Mirenge, Col Chance Ndagano, and Yvonne Manzi Makolo. That is an average of two years a CEO.
That is why we must pray for the young people that Kagame has recently put in charge of RwandAir. The airline is Kagame’s latest most favorite project that he hopes is a silver bullet to make Rwanda rich. This is shown by the amount of money Kagame has put into the airline. Kagame has pumped into RwandAir at least US$1 Billion — and is ready to inject US$220 Million more. US$1.2 Billion is equivalent to half of Rwanda’s budget for the entire fiscal year of 2018/2019. This is no small change.
To run his US$1.2 Billion RwandAir, Kagame has assembled a team of young technocrats. There is one problem though — and none of them have ever run an airline. And running an airline is not a piece of cake. Here is the Kagame RwandAir leadership and senior management team.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors is a young man named Godfrey Kabera. He is the Director General of National Development Planning and Research, Ministry of Finance.
The RwandAir chief executive officer is Yvonne Manzi Makolo. For over a decade, Makolo worked for MTN Rwanda, the leading telecom service provider. She rose through the ranks to the position of MTN’s Chief Marketing Officer.
Lieutenant Colonel Silver Munyaneza is the deputy CEO and RwandAir’s chief operations officer. Evidently, Munyaneza hails from Rwandan military.
However individually talented, this young team will not turn Kagame’s US$1.2 Billion RwandAir into a viable airline.
A robust airline needs people with enormous experience to lead and serve in such areas as aviation operations, flight safety, aviation maintenance, ground operations at home and abroad, and negotiation with all kinds of suppliers. Further, the airline industry is highly competitive — even established companies are struggling to survive due to the liberalization of market access. Into this rat race, Kagame has thrown a team of novices who have not run an airline before. We pray for the RwandAir team that is in charge of performing a miracle.