This year’s Transparency International corruption index report has been commented on and I need not belabour the point. However, in view of the great effort the government of Rwanda invests in fighting corruption, it is worth re-examination by all who care.
In good performance in all fields, Rwanda strives to be a global leader. Why, then, isn’t she, in some areas? As an example, in the fight against corruption, why does she lead African countries and not the globe?
It may be argued that 19 years of self-reinvention are not enough for a country to grow forceful institutions that can insure overall success.
However, personally, I think Rwanda possesses the strongest requisite weapons. She has a government with a strong will to win. The citizenry has been awakened to its need and right to own the fight. Strong laws are in place and the government makes sure they are strictly adhered to. And, don’t forget, new Rwanda has never started a war that she didn’t win. In a word, she has Agaciro!
That Agaciro is the will to dare. To dare earn self-respect and hope for eventual self-sustenance. To best-perform; to sit at the high table. And to ignore anyone who may think there are powers that be that alone are entitled to claim ownership of that table. It’s to believe that all wo/men are equal. That, like anyone else, you can make the best out of yourself.
So, shoddy philosophy apart, I’m saying that Rwandans should not be happy when they are in anyway second-rated. Or that they’ve been placed first in Africa. Or that their bribery rate is at 13%, when recently corruption-rife Georgia, neighbour to Russia, is at 5%. Australia, S. Korea, Malaysia, Norway....why should they do better?
Whether you like it or not, being second rate is a negation of Agaciro. It is Agasuzuguro. It is self-denigration and denigration of others. To accept that bribery exists even if in small measure is to accept abuse. To give someone a bribe is to belittle them. To accept a bribe is to belittle one-self. To favour anyone in any way or to solicit a favour of any kind, both are Agasuzuguro.
And this Agasuzuguro exists in Rwanda, unfortunately, and I’ve been witness to it – hoping the long arm of the law does not reach for me!
Just the other day a friend who’d given me a lift stopped for a minute to pick his mechanic, oblivious to the fact that the taxi-stop had been shifted to another area the previous day. Immediately, a policeman seized his driving licence, ignoring his pleas that he’d not seen the sign and that he’d never repeat the mistake.
We were in a hurry but it seemed the friend knew how to coax a pardon out of the policeman. The two seemed to touch hands and in a jiffy we were gone. Naïve me, I’d not clicked and when the friend explained what had transpired, I walked back to check the name on his jacket. But the policeman seemed to know how to position himself in a way that you could not locate his name.
This reminded me of an incident when one time I was on a long journey. When a policeman flagged me down and checked all the lights, he found one of the small plate-number lights had just blown. I assured him I’d replace it at the next shop but he’d not hear of it. He booked me and I had to travel back over 20km to the police station the following day, to recover my papers.
It was when at the station they explained that the worst the road-traffic policeman should have done would’ve been to reprimand me that the penny dropped. I understood that he’d wanted a bribe. But that time, too, I’d not seen his name.
These incidents may have involved little money but they point to why the police and the judiciary top the list of corrupt departments. When it comes to contracts, tenders, marks in education centres, employment and other areas, is it easy to assess the kind of measurable and non-measurable corruption involved?
No, being first in Africa is way down the ladder and it’s not like Rwanda to go for anything below the top. All creative ways must be devised to be second, not to Norway, Malaysia, S. Korea or Australia but to none.
Apart from what embodies Agaciro as mentioned above, the government is highly effective in its transparency, accountability and governance. These are buoyed by the institution of the Ombudsman. From the grassroots there are corruption councils that support committees which, in turn, shore up institutions.
Which is why this is not a lament but, rather, a touch of celebration. But, in addition, a reminder that, in truth, Rwandans haven’t “touched the best where it used to be” (gukora iyo bwabaga)!
When all is said and done, Rwandans have it in them to be tops of the globe.