There is a certain West African proverb that “when hunters becoming so skilled they can shoot arrows without missing; birds will learn how to fly without perching”. The same could be said about corruption.
The Government of Rwanda is very clear on corruption- it has a zero tolerance and has put measures in place to combat it.
However, despite everything done to combat it, cases of embezzlement and other forms of corruption still surface time and time again.
Usually, countries that have had the misfortune of war tend to have weak systems that often foster corruption. This is largely because of resource scarcity.
In order to register a company, one may have to pay a-little-something-on-the-side in order to jump the queue.
The queue in the first place could be as a result of shortage of manpower to deal with everyone within an 8-hour working day.
As more people line up, the workload gets bigger. This could lead to one waiting for an entire week to be served were the queue to be honoured.
So, without it being the service providers’ fault, those supposed to be served end up feeling disgruntled and either give up or try jumping the queue.
All actions, as you know, start from the mind. So, I will say, corruption will start with the thought of jumping the queue. Then, you will justify that thought and start contemplating how best to jump that queue.
And if the stakes are not as high as those in Rwanda, you will definitely hop over it. And once you’ve succeeded once, unlike in High Jump where the more you succeed, the higher the bar is raised, you will continue jumping and even set the terms. That’s corruption for you.
After the war in Rwanda, many people from neighbouring and other countries probably thought they’d come in and exploit the situation. There was a lot to exploit be it in business or other areas.
And many have done exactly that; however, the Rwanda is still a virgin economy, ripe for exploitation. All you have to do is visit the Rwanda Development Board for guidance.
However, one area was, and still is, a no-go area.
And that was exploiting the Rwandan people. The government has been clear about corruption. And, as mentioned previously, corruption and embezzlement has still managed to rear its ugly head.
Fortunately, unlike in some countries, those involved have been taken to task for their crimes. So, should we say that the corrupt, just like that bird that learnt to fly without perching, have revised their methods and adapted?
Government is so hard on corruption, and the corrupt, that many Rwandans have began taking the anti-corruption drive for granted.
They have gotten an ‘ntibindeba’ (am not concerned) and ntakibazo (no problem, even when it’s glaring) attitude. I once read that the greatest cause of corruption in Africa is the ‘family’. I believe that statement is spot on.
Here is a simple illustration. When a family member completes school and happens to get a job, even those he never saw in his entire childhood will claim to be his relatives and will have very high expectations.
They will not just bring a congratulatory message but rather a cocktail of problems they expect you to drink in gulps. They will expect you, in one year, to have all that a person who has worked for over twenty years has.
Some may fall in this trap. They may acquire loans which they will service even when they are not bringing in any dividends. If you are an accountant, your fingers may start feeling the tips of the office petty cash.
With time, the fingers pull out a few banknotes, your mind convinced you that you can get away with it till months end without auditors noticing.
Then the chunks start getting bigger and, if you are in Rwanda, you get caught eventually. However, we wouldn’t want a scenario where many are caught in acts of corruption. We should create an attitude opposed to it in the first place.
We can start by insisting on getting the best service instead of paying for poor service with a smile. If we still go back to that who has gives a poor service, then it’s a sign that even when a public servant ill treats you, chances are, you will just keep quiet and go.
When a Permanent Secretary delays signing your documents and you ‘wisely’ give up a certain ‘kimwe cya cumi’ (10%) of the deal’s amount, then you are condoning corruption.
And there’s this attitude of ‘ntawanga ijana mu rindi’ (a hundred bucks is always welcome), which also needs to be done away with as it leads to the 10% being gladly accepted. Procedures of acquiring a public service should be clear from the lowest local government level.
People should not be left guessing on what is expected of them or where they should get a certain service. It’s with removing the ntibindeba and ntakibazo attitude that the fight against corruption can be a part of the national psyche.