Rwanda has yet again been ranked as a high flyer in ensuring a corruption free society. This is according to the report dubbed; The Global Corruption Barometer 2013 produced by Transparency International.
The findings mainly based on public opinion on corruption, shows that Rwanda is the only African country in a group of countries where corruption ranges between 10 and 14.9 per cent.
It is the least corrupt country in Africa and by extension in the East African Community.
This is great news worth celebrating with a gig (as my West African brothers would do).
Many would argue that public opinion is not ‘scientific’ enough to paint a clear corruption picture of any country but it doesn’t take away the fact that it is one of the ways especially if the respondents have not been influenced in one way or the other.
It’s the local person who dishes out a bribe in exchange for a service or a favour so public opinion should be given the weight it deserves.
The findings should be seen as vindication of government’s strong stance against corruption. With the prevailing political will to root out corruption in all its manifestations, these findings should not come by surprise.
The findings in this report however come with a twist. Institutions that should be at the forefront of fighting corruption have a poor rating. The Police and the Judiciary are seen as the most corrupt institutions in the country respectively.
Interestingly, the two institutions (Police and Judiciary) are considered in the same negative light in all the five East African Countries albeit at different levels.
Low level of corruption is reported with Public officials and servants, NGOs, business, education system, religious bodies, media, political parties, medical services, military and parliament.
So what do we take from this report? The most important thing is that the public court of opinion has passed its judgment. The onus now lies on institutions like the Police and the Judiciary to put their houses in order other than going on the defensive.
Achieving zero corruption levels is utopia but this should not deter efforts to bring it down to the lowest level it can ever be.
This report also comes with an added business meaning to Rwanda.
The country is positioning itself as a leading investment destination in the region so this report only comes as a shot in the arm to this aspiration.
The consequences of corruption need not to be over emphasised. Corruption has come as another undesirable challenge that businesses are faced with especially in many developing countries.
A ‘kitu kidogo’ (bribe) has to be handed out at the land registry, at the customs and hands have to be ‘oiled’ at the permit office to speed up the process. The growth of such businesses is compromised as a result. Long term investment is traded for short term benefits.
For Rwanda to have an edge over its EAC counterparts in attracting Foreign Direct Investment, it will have to offer much more including but not limited to low levels of corruption, something that is lacking in these countries according to the Global Corruption Barometer 2013.
This will call for sustained efforts to curb this vice in all its manifestations.
The ‘closed’ nature of the Rwandan society is counter productive to the fight against corruption. People need to speak out loud.
The legal framework is in place, institutions like the office of the Ombudsman have been established, anti-corruption committees have been rolled out up to the lowest levels of administration and enforcement is at its peak. It is not yet time to rest on our laurels.