Over 5,200 cows were irregularly distributed under the Girinka programme that aims at fighting poverty and malnutrition in the country.
Of these, only 2,437 were recovered by the Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) following an evaluation exercise carried out between May and June to examine how the cows were given out under the project. It was discovered that some people got cows after bribing local leaders handling the distribution exercise.
The findings are disturbing and could be a pointer to bigger problems affecting the programme supposed to benefit the most vulnerable people.
Although some culprits have been brought to book, it is time for the concerned officials to plug the loopholes in the programme implementation to prevent a reoccurrence of similar fraud in the future.
Also, investigations in the over 360 pending cases should be expedited and those found guilty should be given harsh penalties as a deterrent measure for others who could be having the same intentions. Though this development points to the fact that something is being done to ensure proper implementation of the programme, RAB should have put in place measures to prevent it in the first place. Why did it take this long for the board to detect that something was amiss in the 10-year-old programme?
RAB and stakeholders should devise new and punitive measures to deter such corruption. This might take more than jailing a few officials or mere suspension of civil servants implicated.
RAB should also establish a close working relationship with the grassroots people to unearth such corrupt officials across the various programmes under its mandate. Ordinary citizens found culpable for covering up dubious dealings like these should also be apprehended and punished for abetting corruption.