First of all, I’m shocked by the stench that has been emanating from the dungeons of the Fonds National pour l’Assistance aux Rescapés du Génocide, or FARG as its better known.
I’ve read stories about the ineptness of the FARG staff, heard horror stories about vulnerable genocide orphans being replaced on lists with relatives of FARG officials and so on.
In fact, I’m shocked that heads hadn’t rolled faster. Why did I want heads rolling? Here are some facts.
Recent government reports found out that a third, yes, a THIRD of the 309,368 survivors of 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi still alive, are living in extreme poverty.
These poor souls are mostly orphans and widows who number 119,385. And sadly, 51% of children who survived the genocide stopped their schooling because of poverty.
Now, if the FARG contributions weren’t coming out of my very own pocket, I’d be just marginally less aggrieved. However, every single worker in Rwanda is supposed to contribute to this fund, which I find rather noble; it’s only fair that the entire nation jointly contributes to the fund.
But here is the deal- if you get money from me; you better spend that money correctly. I might piss and moan about RRA taking my money, but I’ll be the first to admit that the roads are smooth, streetlights work and public utilities work, so, at least my tax-francs aren’t coming to naught.
However, it seems as if my FARG contributions are being taken for granted by the very people who are supposed to be using my monies to help my fellow Banyarwanda. Happily, I wasn’t the only one outraged by the ineptness of the organisation.
The Prime Ministers office, on Thursday sacked all the members of its Board of Administration as well as the four top managers.
Misters Jean Marie Vianney Karekezi, Sylvain Nsabimana, Jean Marie Rwagatare and Janvier Ngabo were given the boot…and I must add that it was a long time coming.
It was reported in the New Times that the sacked Karekezi was blaming the local leaders of hiding behind FAR committees, while abusing their authority to illegally include some people on the list of beneficiaries. He, in fact, blamed the government and judiciary for not taking measures against these people.
Now, if that wasn’t a lame excuse I don’t know what it. Here is a simple principle that I believe all political appointees must learn-to take political responsibility for their departments.
United States president, Harry Truman, had a sign on his table in the Oval Office that read “THE BUCK STOPS HERE”!
Sadly, many of our politicians don’t understand the principle that ‘even if the problem wasn’t directly of your own making, you still have to take responsibility for not properly administering your underlings’.
So, in Mr. Karekezi’s case, while he might have not personally put any people on the FARG lists himself, his underlings did; and as, to paraphrase President Truman, “that buck stopped there”.
However, this wish to avoid taking responsibility isn’t just a FARG malaise. It seems as if its nationwide phenomena. Totally inept leaders refuse to admit that they are way over their heads while the organisation they head goes to the dogs while parastatals go bust as their so-called managers run their businesses to the ground.
And when, finally they get fired, they point the finger to their underlings, pleading their innocence all the while. Unlike a court of law, where the principle of ‘innocent until PROVEN guilty is the norm, in the court of public opinion things are slightly different.
In the court of public opinion, it’s all about the ‘perception’ of guilt and innocence. For example, if the village representative of, say, FARG, is doing a lousy, and corrupt, job, the affected people will blame FARG, as an institution for being lousy and corrupt. And who’s the face of FARG? You guessed it, Mr. Karekezi.
I know that taking responsibility for institutional failures isn’t the done thing here in Rwanda, but it doesn’t mean that our culture can’t change.
Personally, I’d love to actually read in the paper that a Director, freely and without prompting from the ‘higher-ups’, chose to resign because it was the honourable thing to do. But I bet I’ll grow old and gray before that happens. Shame.