The findings by a Senate-initiated investigation that there are ghost students and unscrupulous head teachers, who have made business out of the Fund for Genocide Survivors (FARG), indicates yet another challenge the government faces in the fight against corruption.
Last year alone, 492 students were listed and funded by FARG without supporting documents, 100 students were twice listed and 276 other students were registered as boarding students, yet they were day scholars, shows me that corruption is manifesting in a new manner.
After reading the findings of the report, I had an interesting conversation with one of my workmates.
He said it was unfortunate for corruption to appear in such form. But he pointed out that there should be a system to get rid of quack FARG beneficiaries.
“It’s terrible to hear such reports; it isn’t simple to determine who is a genuine orphan without the cooperation of local leaders,” he told me.
The government should realise that without proper system, he added, children claiming to be orphans as young as 10 will surface years after the genocide.
This report was vital because it reveals that, despite the government’s hard stance on corruption, the corrupt are exploiting still-existing loopholes.
Scores of local leaders have been jailed or are facing corruption related cases. But few reports, if any, have been highlighted about corrupt head teachers.
A source once told me of a certain Kigali head teacher who had, allegedly, ‘eaten’ money meant for teacher’s PTA. I didn’t take the story seriously because I didn’t think there was money to steal.
The Senate report was incredulous reading. I certainly didn’t expect corruption in this for- I find it equivalent to profiteering from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
When I was a little boy, I used to think that even the village thief would not steal the condolence fees.
Alas, I was clearly naive.
The English proverb ‘an opportunist sees a chance in every calamity’ has some sense. I have come to understand that corruption can infiltrate anywhere.
Similar reports in the Gacaca courts came as a surprise because nobody expected corruption because the judges were supposed to be people of integrity (Inyangamugayo). The idea that Inyangamugayo could demand a bribe is something that wasn’t planned for.
What the government should understand is that citizens living in villages find it normal to part with a few coins if it expedites a service.
It the norm in villages for grassroots leaders to ask for ‘inzoga y’abagabo’ and ‘ikaramu’ from citizens who want speedy services. And they shouldn’t get away with it.