Rwanda: Who Are the New Faces in Cabinet?

28 February 2020

President Paul Kagame on Wednesday reshuffled his cabinet adding eight new faces and creating two new positions at the level of state minister.

It was a full sweep for Education and Health ministries each getting a new minister. Education now has two state ministers (one for Primary and Secondary Education, another for Technical and Vocational Education and Training), while a new state minister for primary health care in the Ministry of Health was also appointed.

But who are exactly the new entrants?

Before her appointment as Minister for Education, Dr Valentine Uwamariya was Deputy Vice Chancellor in Charge of Training, Institutional Development, and Research at Rwanda Polytechnic (RP), a position she had held November 2018.

Previously, she worked as Dean of School of Science and a senior lecturer in Chemistry department at the University of Rwanda. Uwamariya acquired her Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the former National University of Rwanda (1999), before obtaining her Msc degree in Chemistry from Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa (2005).

In 2013, she obtained her PhD from UNESCO-IHE and Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands in Environmental engineering and Water technology.

She's married with two children.

Uwamariya replaces Eugene Mutimura, who was transferred to the Science and Technology Commission as the head.

Claudette Irere, probably the youngest member of cabinet, was elevated from the position of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of ICT and Innovation to the position of state minister in charge of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the Ministry of Education. The portfolio is being reintroduced after it had been scrapped a few years.

Irere, who co-founded FabLab Rwanda, once served as the firm's general-manager, a project manager at PSF-ICT Chamber, general-manager at Klab, and manager ICT projects at Transform Africa. She had been appointed PS Ministry of ICT and Innovation in April 2017.

She acquired her master's degree in Computer Engineering from Oklahoma Christian University in 2013 a year after graduating from the former National University of Rwanda with a Bachelor's in Computer Science in 2012.

But Uwamariya and Irere are not the only new faces at the Kacyiru-based ministry.

The other is Gaspard Twagirayezu, who was appointed State Minister in charge of Primary and Secondary Education. He replaces Isaac Munyakazi who resigned earlier this month for tampering with the integrity of national examination results.

Twagirayezu had been working as Science and Technology Knowledge Transfer analyst at the National Commission of Science and Technology (NCST-since 2014) where he moved to after working as coordinator of a science centre at Agahozo Shalom Youth Village in Rwamagana District.

He has also previously worked as a researcher (for energy resources) at NASA DEVELOP program, a Bridge program peer mentor, and a science teacher at Jesuit Rescue Service.

Twagirayezu holds a Master's degree in Engineering Management (2013) and a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering (2012), both from Oklahoma Christian University.

In the Health ministry, Dr Daniel Ngamije was named the minister. He has been working with World Health Organization (WHO) Rwanda serving as National Programme Officer in charge of Malaria and Neglected Tropical diseases.

Trained as a physician and public health specialist, Dr Ngamije previously worked for 10 years in health financing resources mobilisation for the Ministry of Health and Rwanda Biomedical Centre before joining the WHO.

He has more than 23 years of working experience cumulatively in different areas of the health sector, serving as a clinician, health district, health regional manager, and health projects manager. Ngamije replaces Diane Gashumb who resigned a few weeks ago.

Lt. Col. Dr Tharcisse Mpunga is the new State Minister in charge of Primary Health Care. He replaces Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi, who was named the Executive Secretary of the newly-created Human Resources for Health Secretariat.

Mpunga had been serving as director-general of Butaro Hospital in Burera District, Northern Province. With 10 years of leadership experience, Dr Mpunga has been involved in research related to cancer and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in general, and in several activities related to improving health indicators in Rwanda.

He holds a PhD in Cancer Epidemiology from the National University of Rwanda and a master's degree in Applied Epidemiology.

Another new cabinet member is Dr Jeanette Bayisenge, the new Minister for Gender and Family Promotion, who took over from Solina Nyirahabimana.

Prior to her appointment, she was the acting director and a senior lecturer at University of Rwanda's College of Arts and Social Sciences' Center for Gender Studies (where she had worked since May 2004), and Chairperson of Gasabo District Council.

She has conducted research in a number of areas such as gender, development, and women and children's rights, land rights, women and youth access to land and rural livelihoods, and land tenure regularisation.

Dr Bayisenge holds a PhD in Social Work from University of Gothenburg, Sweden which she obtained in 2014, a Master's degree in Development Cooperation with specialisation in Women and Development obtained from Ewha Woman's University in Seoul- South Korea (2009), and a Bachelor's degree in Social Work from the National University of Rwanda (2003).

Richard Tusabe is another new entrant. He was appointed the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in charge of the National Treasury, becoming the first person to hold this particular position. At the Finance ministry he joins Uzziel Ndagijimana, the minister, and Claudine Uwera, the State Minister for Economic Planning. The development means Finance ministry joins that of Education in having three ministers.

Until his ministerial appointment on Wednesday, Tusabe was Director General at Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB).

Previously, he worked as Commissioner General of Rwanda Revenue Authority, and Chief Financial Officer at MTN Rwanda.

Tusabe holds an MBA in Strategic Planning from Edinburgh Business School and a CPA. He's a full member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Rwanda (ICPAR).

Another new face in the new cabinet line-up is Inès Mpambara. She is the new Minister in charge of Cabinet Affairs. She replaces Marie Solange Kayisire, who was moved to the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management.

Until her appointment she had worked as Director of Cabinet in the Office of the President for more than 10 years. Previously, she was Director of the School of Journalism and Communication at the former National University of Rwanda.

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