If your answer is Bujumbura the next time you are asked to name the political capital of Burundi, you will be wrong!
The government of Burundi has officially announced the declaration that makes the small town of Gitega, located in the center of the country, as the new political capital. Bujumbura will be maintained as an economic capital.
Spokesman for President Pierre Nkurunziza, Jean-Claude Karerwa Ndenzako who made the announcement over the weekend said the move was in line with a presidential promise made about a decade ago.
“Cabinet meetings will henceforth be held in Gitega, where five ministries will also be established from the start of 2019,” he said.
Among the ministries to be established in the new political capital of Gitega are; interior, education and agriculture ministries.
However, the government’s decision is yet to be approved by parliament which many believe will give it a speedy passage owning to the fact that it is dominated by the ruling party.
The former capital Bujumbura which is located in the northeast of the country boasts of a population of more than 1.2 million people while Gitega, the new capital has a population of just 30,000 people.
One major reason that influenced the decision is the positioning of the state which is in the center of the country as compared to Bujumbura which is located in the North. Another reason is the fact that Gitega was once the capital of the Burundian monarchy.
Critics have however frowned at the government’s decision to move the political capital saying that Gitega is not in any way ready to be the capital of the country or house the five ministries, as it lacks basic amenities and structure needed for the move.
They have also cited the $20 million presidential palace built and donated by China in Bujumbura. They are demanding to know what will happen to the property after the country moves its political capital out of Bujumbura.
This is not the first time an African country has moved its capital to a different city. Nigeria moved its capital from Lagos to Abuja. President John Magufuli of Tanzania has already declared Dodoma as the country’s administrative capital but the government is yet to move completely.
Egypt, Zambia and Equatorial Guinea have all announced plans to move their capital cities in the coming years.
Header Image Credit: Face2Face Africa