Politicians need to be more vocal on corruption

A colleague of mine, James Munyaneza of the Rwanda Journalist association recently wrote a piece asking whether the war on corruption should be fought by one man.

A colleague of mine, James Munyaneza of the Rwanda Journalist association recently wrote a piece asking whether the war on corruption should be fought by one man.

He was referring to the fact that apart from our president few politicians are willing to openly denounce corruption.

Turn on TVR or radio and politicians are calling on Rwandans to “work hard” or “promote reconciliation” but when it comes to corruption, total silence. It is like an unspoken rule never to judge lest you yourself be judged.

Most would rather sit quiet until the long arm of the law weeds out corrupt officials.

Leaders of all main political parties should ask that all their members and candidates take a solid stance against corruption. That way we will weed out the hypocrites, and when they get caught they will have to eat their words.

We cannot let the current vow of silence continue, politicians cannot cloak themselves in the integrity of our president; they must stand and be counted.

Soon we will have the Auditor-General’s report coming out. It is written in such understated tones that it sounds ironic. “Mr X failed to account for the missing money, therefore was not in compliance.” In real English it should have read “Mr. X stole the money or was negligent therefore same result.” We have to call it like it is, we cannot sugar-coat it.

We need the Ombudsman’s office to have power of prosecution, otherwise what we call non-compliance will continue into something bigger. True, Rwanda has lower corruption levels than our neighbouring countries, where it is customary to bribe at every level.

This high reputation affords all politicians a potential cover if they want to steal. This reputation must not be protected at the expense of errant individuals.

We need politicians who stand for integrity, we are often deferential towards our leaders and bestow on them honour before they earn it. Honour is something you earn via your deeds and words, not something just bestowed.

A rising number of MP’s are defaulting on loans, embroiled in land disputes or being investigated in some way.

There is a danger that politicians can all be lumped in one basket for the misdeeds of others, but we need our “honourable” members to at least honour their debts.

Banks should also not lend to politicians who can be here today and gone tomorrow. We cannot afford any waste or corruption, the recent downturn has taught us to value every cent.

So as I await the Auditor-General’s report, I wonder what the reaction will be. I know it will be more robust than last year’s, it is like a forecast for the coming year.

The last one I read I could see the seeds of downfall for many politicians such as Mr. Mutsindashyaka who had several pages for himself alone.

Few would have read the writing on the wall but it was in plain view, we just need it in plain English. Let’s not use words like “failed to comply” or “failed to account”. Let us call it like it is.

Rama Isibo is a social commentator

ramaisibo@hotmail.com

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