Why big wigs are missing on the list of corrupt officials

The Office of the Ombudsman has again released a list of people charged and sentenced over corruption but, for the first time since 2010, the list features a former top government official - Cyrille Turatsinze, former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government.

The Office of the Ombudsman has again released a list of people charged and sentenced over corruption but, for the first time since 2010, the list features a former top government official – Cyrille Turatsinze, former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government.

High Court sentenced Turatsinze to five years in jail with a fine of Rwf4 million. He was found guilty of soliciting a Rwf2 million bribe from one Jerome Nshimiyimana, a businessman, to aid him win tenders in the ministry.

The list also includes familiar categories of people; drivers, farmers, village chiefs, community mediators (Abunzi), police constables, local leaders, barbers, cyclists, and fishermen.

Activists have pushed for agencies charged with fighting corruption, including the Office of the Ombudsman, to name and shame top government officials involved in corruption.

In fact, last year, the Ombudsman, Aloysie Cyanzayire, was tasked by MPs to explain why her annual reports did not feature top government officials.

Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Deputy Ombudsman in charge of Preventing and Fighting Corruption, Clément Musangabatware defended the lists, saying the level at which Rwandans report corruption was still low thereby reflecting the low figures. 

“Statistics indicate that the rate at which corruption is reported stands at 35 per cent. This is very low and calls for more efforts in public sensitisation,” said Musangabatware.

Figures indicate that between  2010 and April 2014, about 530 people were convicted of corruption.

Musangabatware further pointed out that the reason why ‘big fish’ don’t appear on the lists was because they don’t easily have access to funds.

“The chief budget managers are the permanent secretaries in ministries and executive secretaries in districts. These are the people with access to funds and, therefore, likely to be involved in corruption-related practices. Ministers and mayors may influence decisions but they may not be directly involved in corruption cases,” Musangabatware said.

But the chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Political Affairs, Alfred Kayiranga Rwasa, said Parliament had previously requested the Ombudsman’s office to look into cases that may involve government officials.

“As long as someone has not yet been convicted, then the principle of presumption of innocence applies, but there may be cases in courts involving individuals occupying high offices,” he said.

Sexual corruption

Since 2010, no single case of gender-based corruption has been reported despite reports that it exists, and in some cases, rampant.

A study conducted three years ago by Transparency International Rwanda revealed that gender-based corruption exists in the workplace and particularly affects women searching  for jobs in both the public and private sector. The study also stated that about 85 per cent of victims of sexual corruption were female.

 “Only about 5.6 per cent of gender-based corruption victims have reported to police or Office of the Ombudsman. The majority prefer to keep quiet for fear of ruining their employment prospects,” the report reads in part.

However, the Executive Secretary of the Public Service Commission, Angelina Muganza, said the figures of TI-Rwanda were too global and didn’t give a clear picture of the situation in the public sector.

“We are planning to conduct a study soon to establish whether gender-based corruption exists,” she said.

Results from the Rwanda Bribery Index 2013 indicated that perceived corruption in the country decreased from 30.5 per cent in 2012 to 16.2 in 2013. The Index placed central government on top of institutions with the highest average size of bribe, standing at Rwf700,000 followed by banks with Rwf61,227 and police with Rwf47,605.

 

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