“In the past, ministers used to work on the tendering process and procurement, something that encouraged corruption in ministries. In Rwanda, there is that political will to fight corruption. All Rwandans must be vigilant and report corruption cases. Without people’s vigilance, efforts of organs charged with fighting corruption are limited. People have been sensitised to the sector level and availed toll free telephone lines on which to call and report local leaders who take bribes,” Tito Rutaremara, the Ombudsman said recently while talking to The New Times reporter.
Corruption has become an issue of major political and economic significance in recent years, and the necessity to take measures against it has become pressing. Efforts are all over the world and in the developing countries particularly. Rwanda has not been left behind either.
Recently the office of the Ombudsman revealed that it would be exposing corrupt government officials. As a result, such government officials have been investigated in connection with tendering anomalies. Some are expected to be taken to task in relation to how their wealth does not reflect their known incomes.
Nevertheless, the issue is, why do people get involved in corruption and embezzling funds? The answer is simple - dying morals!Some scholars have argued that fighting corruption is no longer just a moral issue, but a major tool in the fight against world poverty. I would say yes and no.
Yes, because fighting corruption paves way for development, and no, because if corruption is not taken as a moral issue, it will not be uprooted. It is this moral strength that the Rwandan Ombudsman is indeed endowed with, that will see the country free from corruption in future.
It is absurd that a great number of people live long and useful lives, without ever consciously defining or systematically considering the values or moral rules that guide their social, personal, and work lives.
That is why one may shamelessly decide to use public money for personal gain. It is a great immorality, for it is a wrong choice that leaves many in poverty.
Being moral-minded is like any art: The more practice and deeper understanding we have, the better we become. The little time I have met the Ombudsman has showed me why he is in the right office.
You would actually mistake him for a common person. He interacts freely, joins people of all sorts and engages them in social discussions. He listens to all age groups, not with arrogance but with the respect they deserve.
This attitude and behaviour make him a unique character in society. I guess that he does not even care about the car he drives, provided it is in a good mechanical condition.
What makes people corrupt?
You need to be morally upright as the ‘savedees’ would love to say. People who are over-ambitious would want the whole world to belong to them. They end up jumping their ‘good salaries’ to push hands into public funds. This is greed! It is such greed that has rendered the US and other European banks bankrupt.
“We dare not mention the R word. It hasn’t even arrived (officially) but already the gloom has come over us like a fog. The weather even seems to mock us, acting like a metaphor of our shame. Our shame -- the greed that has got us into this mess”, observed Hanani, a journalist with the US Independent Magazine.
For a government official to fight poverty, he or she must have a sense of love for his country and its people. Whenever you fight corruption, be sure that you are doing it for the deprived in society. Therefore, a noble cause calls for a ‘special person’. Our Ombudsman takes the credit.
The issue of selflessness comes into play too. You must be a person that is not guided by an inherent egoistic tendered behaviour. In some countries all the required mechanism is put in place but lacks someone to oversee its implementation. The man handling the ‘steering wheel’ is a power to reckon with.
Though Rwanda remains the least corrupt in the region, the few we have, cannot be tolerated. I am equally convinced that the moral background of the people in charge of handling the culprits back my idea. I look forward to seeing Rwanda getting less and less corrupt in the near future.