The recent crackdown on suspected mismanagement, fraud and abuse of office by government officials is building more public trust in President Paul Kagame’s administration.
There have been numerous registered cases of people in high office being questioned, and some prosecuted.
Lately, a high profile investigation has rocked the Ministry of Commerce, Investment Promotion, Tourism and Cooperatives (Minicom), with two Cabinet ministers and other senior officials being questioned by CID and the office of the Prosecutor General (PG).
Minicom boss Protais Mitali, his juniors Justin Nsengiyumva (Secretary General) Felicien Murenzi (Director of Planning) as well as Finance Minister James Musoni were among those quizzed over a tender awarded to a Kenyan fuel company, Dalbit, last year.
A random survey conducted by The New Times had many members of the public asked on this particular issue, and majority expressed positive views on government’s stand against corruption.
Josiana Umutoni, an office secretary at Ubumwe House in Kigali said: “The government has, since the (2003) elections taken a lot of actions against corrupt officials and I think commitment by the President to ensure that the country develops has energised the fight against corruption in public offices.”
Her assertion that President Kagame’s commitment to the development of the country has given direction to the fight against corruption is not a case in isolation but a general public opinion. Most people acknowledge that the President’s commitment to end the vice in government has been the most important boost to the anti-graft campaign.
However, Umutoni thinks that efforts to deal with corruption can be hindered by corrupt officials working in government bodies charged with fighting graft within.
Although, she doesn’t provide any particular case of graft, say in CID or judiciary, she suspects that some people handling cases of corruption may themselves be tempted to get involved in the same vice.
“But still I think they are doing a lot to fight corruption. Recently some ministers have been questioned by CID so efforts are there,” a Kigali-based engineer who didn’t want to be named said. The engineer said that the government even if it still has among its ranks people who may be corrupt themselves, has the capacity to deal with anyone involved.
Charles Gashumba, a businessman dealing in stationery and electronics at the Kigali Business centre (KBC), is a bit shaken, as he said: “We have heard the Minister of Education (Jeanne d’Arc sceptical on the integrity of some government officials but believes that overall there is political will to end graft. In his view, recent reports that some government officials have fake academic papers have not helped matters in as far as people’s trust in them is concerned.
Nevertheless his confidence is not entirely Mujawamariya) saying that they are going to investigate cases of forgery.”
However, Gashumba observed that graft is not a unique problem to Rwanda.
“This issue is a global problem; there is no fairness everywhere in the way things are done especially when there is something to gain in some people’s pockets,” he charged.
Many other people said that the struggle against corruption is not a simple one because various officials tend to benefit from a single corruption case.
This is where the role of whistleblowers becomes critical in efforts to fight the vice.
Asuman Karekezi, a computer technician said that although there have been commendable efforts by government to stop graft; it is incumbent upon people working in the same offices as corrupt officials to report cases of abuse of office and corruption.
This common man’s belief is also reflected in the words of the Ombudsman Tito Rutaremara.
“The biggest challenge I find in fighting corruption is that many Rwandans do not appreciate that it is a role of everyone and not for one organ,” Rutaremara said. Overall, public opinion seems to allude to the fact the President and other committed leaders are on the right path to maintain zero tolerance on corruption policy.