Fighting corruption is tricky given that both parties involved are aware that what they are doing is illegal and do their best to cover it up, officials said yesterday.
Speaking at celebrations to mark International Anti-Corruption Day in Kigali, various speakers said fighting graft would be possible if all players, including government, watchdogs as well as the entire public worked together.
Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said, while the country should be proud of the progress made in the fight against corruption, there is still along way to go.
“We are yet to get where we want to be; there are some institutions where it is not too much, there is also a big number of the population who remain adamant to report corruption,” the Premier said, reiterating political will to reverse the trend.
Silence remains a serious problem as very few people can report whenever they encounter officials asking for corruption, it was noted.
Citing Rwanda Bribe Index by Transparency International Rwanda released earlier this year, the premier said that only 15 per cent reported to have been asked for a bribe while 85 per cent could not report.
“This should change, all Rwandans should provide information about corruption so that the parties involved are punished as it is government’s priority to fight corruption,” he added.
He said that, on average, corruption takes away 10 per cent of national budgets worldwide, stressing the need to fight it on all fronts for development to take place.
According to a report released by corruption watchdog Transparency International Rwanda in June this year, utility sectors of water and electricity recorded the highest incidences of corruption with 18.1 per cent from 2.5 per cent in 2014, followed by police with 15 per cent.
Others are local authorities at 5.4 per cent, judiciary 5.1 per cent, education institutions 3.5 per cent, followed by tax services at 3.0 per cent, while medical and health services are the least corrupt in the country with an incidence of 0.5 per cent.
Anastase Murekezi, the Ombudsman, said that the fact that Rwanda is a best reformer in fighting corruption is due to political will.
“Corruption is still there, the private sector say they bribe government officials to win tenders and get early payment, this is no longer a secret issue, we need to prevent corruption first, starting from our values,” he said.
Senator Marie Claire Mukasine, the chairperson of African Parliamentarians’ Network against Corruption (APNAC) Rwanda Chapter, called for youth engagement in graft fight.
“Fighting injustice in corruption and other related crimes is our priority, the youth as the future Rwanda should be engaged, background matters and it is likely that those involved in corruption were even involved in petty theft when they were young,” she said.
Hard to discover
MP Marie Josée Kankera, from the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said corruption is a major issue which is done in secret and those involved use tricks while punishments are not deterrent enough.
Evode Uwizeyimana, State Minister for Constitutional and Legal affairs, said that unlike in the past when corruption related crimes expired, the law now grants no expiry for certain crimes and punishment is tougher.
“Corruption is a game without a referee and both players are involved, more efforts are being put in and I think we are doing a lot. New laws punishing financial and economic crimes will have been gazetted by March but let us look at enforcement mechanism,” he said.
Prof Anastase Shyaka, Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) CEO, said, “We are not best performers but we are best reformers, if you looked back in 15 years, 20 years, we were below international standards.”