Rwandan President Paul Kagame has suspended two provincial governors as part of an ongoing purge targeting public servants deemed to be lacking accountability.
Southern Province Governor Brigadier General Emmanuel Gasana and his Northern Province counterpart Gatabazi Jean Marie Vianney have been pushed out pending investigations into their performance.
“The President has suspended from duty Mr Gasana Emmanuel, Governor of Southern Province and Mr Gatabazi Jean Marie Vianney, Governor of Northern Province owing to matters of accountability under investigation,” a Monday statement by the Prime Minister said.
Gasana’s executive secretary, Jabo Paul, has also been suspended.
The Rwanda Investigative Bureau declined to provide details of the matters under probe.
Mr Gasana served as Inspector General of Police between 2009 and 2018.
Since his appointment in October 2018, Mr Gasana has faced a number of challenges, including increased poverty levels and incomplete projects in his region.
For example, an 80MW peat energy project in Gisagara District is behind schedule by two years.
The province also suffers from high poverty levels, according to the 2018 Performance Contracts (Imihigo) evaluation.
During a tour of the province early this year, President Kagame warned that local leaders will be held accountable should they not deliver services.
“Leaders in this province will always take a step forward and another backward unless change their mindset. It is why there are no results to see even when they receive a budget,” President Kagame said at the time.
Northern Province, which borders Burundi, has witnessed a spate of attacks by armed assailants believed to be from Burundi, with the most recent in Musanze last October leaving 14 people dead and 18 others wounded.
Shortly after his suspension, Mr Gatabazi apologised to the head of state and thanked him for him appointing him to the job three years ago.
“I apologise for any disappointment to you, Excellency Paul Kagame, RPF and the people of Rwanda, and I look forward to the next chapter of my life continuing to serve my country to my best ability and always loyal to the You Excellency President and RPF,” he tweeted.
Lawmakers have welcomed the move by President Kagame to hold “the big fish” accountable, and are calling for thorough investigations of those who suspended and the findings made public.
“The initiative to hold big offices to account has always been there, but what is now new is that their suspected bad acts are made public. In all cases of all the ministers who are fired this year, the government states briefly why they are being fired, and this helps to kill rumours,” Frank Habineza, an MP and Member of the Green Party said.
“Now the investigators have a duty to investigate these cases and make the findings public. We know cases involving officials who were said to be under investigation but no details were ever provided. This has to change.”
Christian Ngabo Kanangire, head of communications at the ruling party RPF secretariat said that the party has vowed to instill discipline and accountability among its cadres—particularly those entrusted with high office.
“As RPF cadres, there is a number of leadership values we ought to respect. Among those, accountability is the key. Certainly, there are consequences in failing to meet this leadership quality in your deployment as a cadre. RPF has always put accountability at the top of its must-have leadership values,” said Kanangire.
Kagame has sacked five ministers this year alone and pledged to fire more officials for “lying, carelessness and indiscipline.”
Minister of Health Diane Gashumba was fired early this year for “gross errors and repeated leadership failures.”