November 6, 2019

District Mayor With Questionable Record Elevated To Supervise Other 7 Mayors

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Uwambajemariya Florence on May 8 when President Paul Kagame visited Burera district

A district mayor who failed to explain what caused the closure of a multimillion Francs milk factory in her territory, one of several administrative weaknesses she exerted, is the new executive secretary of western province.

Prime Minister Dr Edouard Ngirente this Wednesday made changes to the executive secretaries of the four provinces. The executive secretary is a technical official, who essentially deputizes the Governor appointed by the Head of State.

Uwambajemariya Florence, who has been mayor of Burera district, northern province, bordering Uganda, is the new executive secretary for western province.

In her position, she will be the central government’s supervisor, together with the Governor, for 7 districts including major ones like Rubuvu and Rusizi districts – all bordering DR Congo.

As par the instruments setting up the office of the provincial executive secretary, one of the 13 responsibilities reads: ‘To track and control projects covering more than one District.’

Another responsibility reads the provincial executive secretary is: ‘To prepare the draft of Provincial planning and transmit it to the Governor of the Province who in turn transmit it to the Minister in charge of local government;’

However, from Burera district, Uwamabajemariya leaves mixed feelings about her performance.

It emerged during President Paul Kagame’s northern province tour, while in Burera on May 8, the mayor looked on seeming unaware when called to explain what happened to Burera Diary factory. The facility had been set up by government in 2015 to provide market for milk from locals.

However, Kagame was told of the factory closure by a local resident during the interactive session. Summoned to explain, the mayor fumbled to even remembered when exactly it had closed. Kagame noticed she had difficulty defending herself.

All other central government officials called including a member of Parliament, had no idea why the factory closed. Some said it had no machines, others said it was poorly installed, as others said there was no sufficient supply of milk – yet locals had litters going bad.

ALSO READ: Burera Milk Factory: Trade Ministry Paid Geography Graduate-Consultant 49,500 Euros For No Work Done

Faced with this confusion, Kagame retorted, but unaware his microphone was on: “ariko abantu ni injiji!” (people can be so ignorant!).

Uwambajemariya Florence (2nd in line) along with other central government officials returned the next day, when Kagame had moved to Musanze district, to explain the Burera Diary issue. Even after a day later, there were no tangible answers

In another case, while appearing before a parliamentary committee which was investigating why telecom giant MTN Rwanda had refused to pay Rwf 16m compensation to a community in Burera for destroying their farmland, mayor Uwambajemariya threw her hands in the air in apparent gesture she had no response.

MTN Rwanda back in 2008, destroyed farmland for over 60 families as it constructed a tower in the area. It has since refused to pay compensation.

In the February 20 parliamentary committee session, mayor Uwambajemariya said: “I have tried several times to approach MTN such that we can handle this issue but have not got any response. I wrote letters and got no reply.”

ALSO READ: MTN Rwanda Earned Rwf 102.8 billion Last Year, Ignores Paying Rwf 16m Debt From 2008

These two cases demonstrate clearly that Uwambajemariya Florence was not fully in charge of affairs in Burera district, despite being in office for five years. There are other cases too. It remains to be seen how, she will be able to get grips with 7 districts and the biggest province.

Apart from Uwambajemariya Florence, the Prime Minister also today appointed Kicukiro district mayor Dr Nyirahabimana Jeanne as executive secretary for eastern province, Mashayija Geoffrey for northern province. Jabo Paul will go to southern province.

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