Gifts to civil servants could be poisonous

If indeed, as an official in the Office of Ombudsman has revealed, only two laptops and a mobile phone were declared as gifts received or given by senior government officials, something is not right. A Presidential order as well as the Leadership Code of Conducts compel all senior government officials to declare to the Ombudsman – in writing – all gifts received in excess of Frw 100,000 in value. It becomes more worrying when leaders feign ignorance of what they should keep or report, or are indeed in the dark of what the law stipulates and the dangers of not adhering to it.

If indeed, as an official in the Office of Ombudsman has revealed, only two laptops and a mobile phone were declared as gifts received or given by senior government officials, something is not right.

A Presidential order as well as the Leadership Code of Conducts compel all senior government officials to declare to the Ombudsman – in writing – all gifts received in excess of Frw 100,000 in value.

It becomes more worrying when leaders feign ignorance of what they should keep or report, or are indeed in the dark of what the law stipulates and the dangers of not adhering to it.

Going by the number of civil servants, it is inconceivable that only the three above items were declared, an indication that the Ombudsman needs to tighten some loose ends in terms of oversight.

It is common, as a sign of courtesy, for leaders to confer gifts to visiting dignitaries, a practice that is reciprocated, but when senior officials begin to receive gifts and donations from the business community or other parties, the red light should begin to flash.

Receiving expensive gifts makes one vulnerable and usually becomes easy prey to the giver. The recipient feels indebted and his or her hands are tied when making decisions that could affect the benefactor.

A transparent leadership is what the government has been promoting and it is only logical for the Ombudsman’s office to plug loopholes that could undermine the campaign.

 

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