The 2016 report by Transparency International shows that Rwanda is the 50th least corrupt country globally, 3rd in Africa and 1st in the East African Community. As noted in the report, no country gets close to a perfect score in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016.
Apparently, the current ranking illustrates that Rwanda is on a promising pathway to putting corruption at bay. But, of course, the fight against corruption must not take a back seat. Tough and consistent actions against corruption must be kept up.
Once a back seat is taken, corruption will gain a futile ground to spread like a pernicious virus.
Thus, tackling corruption should remain at the forefront, as we embark on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which seeks, among others, to substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all forms.
To achieve anti-corruption systems, multifaceted approaches already in place must be strengthened at all national levels and in all sectors.
First; to promote integrity, transparency and accountability, by exploring innovative solutions and new technologies. This requires constant evaluation and monitoring of the implementation of existing policies and strategies to achieve the best practice.
In so doing, we acknowledge the centrality of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) which requires the State Parties to adopt and build on its provisions and those of other international, regional and bilateral anti-corruption instrument.
Second; to expose corruption committed by companies and individuals, not only for the purpose of naming and shaming but also to face the force of law. This will enhance transparency over who ultimately owns and controls them. Indeed, this calls for firm collective action on increasing beneficial ownership transparency.
Third, to identify and eliminate loopholes that let corruption thrive through the misuse of power and work. This means the corrupt should be denied the use of legitimate business channels to further illicit activity, and anyone who launders the proceeds of corruption should be brought to justice in full accordance with law.
It is quite important to ensure that public authorities and private entities work hand in hand to put in place the incentives and tools that prevent corruption from financial and professional services.
Given that most corruption-related acts involve finance, it is a necessity to create stronger partnership between government, regulators, law enforcement and financial intelligence units to detect and prevent the illicit funds and to enable private sector to play a pivotal role.
It is equally worthwhile to ensure that public contracts are awarded and managed openly, accountably and fairly, consistent with relevant law – making public procurement open so that citizens can have a clear public record of how tax payers’ money is spent. As is well known, procurement is at the centre of most acts of corruption.
As a result, it is worth stressing that the use of e-procurement to make public-contracting processes is more transparent. It diminishes face-to-face contacts of procuring entity staff and prospective bidders.
In doing that, it will ensure accountability as well as to eliminate any corruption loopholes. Ultimately, this undertaking will instill integrity in contracting in sectors that matter for people’s daily lives, and those that are particularly vulnerable to corruption.
Such sectors susceptible to corruption risks are construction, customs, and mining activities, among others. As is indisputably known, corruption in those areas undermines economic growth, compromises security and endangers the poor. As such, increasing accountability and transparency to address the existing gaps should be a dogged commitment.
Another strategy to drive out corruption is to actively engage private sector to be at the forefront of the fight against corruption. Private sector should be actively involved in fighting off corruption tendencies, by implementing appropriate preventive procedures. Law enforcement alone never eliminate corruption without collaboration of private sector.
Furthermore, awareness-raising for people to develop the culture of reporting alleged corruption without fear of reprisal and with confidence so that credible information can be acted on. Everyone should feel a sense of bounden duty to report suspected acts of corruption.
In fact, existing law on the protection of whistle-blowers promotes information-sharing with law enforcement agencies about any criminal act, notably misuse of power or corruption.
This needs the supportive role of the media, including investigative journalists, the business community, and civil society can play in complementing and reinforcing corruption reporting systems including effective monitoring and follow up.
The role of international institutions is equally vital in the corruption warfare. It is important to acknowledge the support of international institutions to work together with national law enforcement to help deliver an international system which is responsive to new challenges and demands.
The adverse effects of corruption are prevalent and ubiquitous. According to United Nations Office of Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), corruption “attacks the foundation of democratic institutions by distorting electoral processes, perverting the rule of law and creating bureaucratic quagmires whose only reason for existing is the soliciting of bribes.
Economic development is stunted because foreign direct investment is discouraged and small businesses within the country often find it impossible to overcome the start-up costs required because of corruption”. Not taking a back seat to corruption.
The writer is an international law expert.