Why Has Kagame Recycled Binagwaho So Soon?

When Kagame dumps his officials, they normally “sit on the small chair” for several years before they are recycled. And rehabilitated. The dumped officials are treated like lepers. Society stays away from the discarded public servants as if they are capable of spreading horrible diseases. Dumped ministers and other senior officials become pariahs who are avoided by other Rwandans that are fearful of offending Kagame. Even the private sector and international organizations operating in Rwanda obey this unwritten Kagame order.

Agnes Binagwaho appears to be an exception.

Barely three months have passed since Kagame sacked her as health minister whose five-year term was ridden with massive corruption. The Global Fund’s millions and monies from the so-called Rwandan universal healthcare vanished. The resurgence of malaria was blamed on the procurement of 3 million substandard mosquito nets which cost more than US$15 million. The 2015 Auditor General’s report provided disgusting evidence of corruption and incompetence in the health sector.

Binagwaho has now resurfaced as a professor at the University of Global Health Equity, located at Rwikwavu, Eastern Province, Rwanda. Never mind that this is a hilarious turn – a former confidant of the Kagames who oversaw the generously aid-endowed health sector now teaching in a start-up experimental college.

So why recycled so soon?

Kagame does not dump officials because of corruption or under performance. He gets rid of officials because they are not sycophantic enough to the master. Put in another way, Kagame leadership style puts premium on mediocre but loyal subordinates. His approval or disapproval of officials is singularly tied to his own survival. In Kagame’s world, loyalty is king – competence is an alien concept.

Binagwaho was therefore not fired because of corruption or mismanagement. She was dumped because the paper trail of corruption came closer to the Kagames – via such channels as Nyiramongi’s Imbuto Foundation and the closeness of Nyiramongi and Binagwaho. Notice that Binagwaho was not personally tasked to account for donor and national financial losses – never mind the Auditor General’s 2015 Report.

Compare Binagwaho’s treatment with Rose Mukankomeje, the former director-general of Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA); or Angelique Kantengwa, former head of the Rwanda Social Security Board. These two were thrown in jail without trial.

All Binagwaho did was go on her knees, praise Kagame for giving her the opportunity to serve the nation, and together with the secrets she has accumulated, she remained a free agent. She is now generously rewarded – by being recycled in record time.

Enter professor Binagwaho of the University of Global Health Equity.

David Himbara