Business

Is it time to revise corruption risks?

A common starting point in the fight against corruption is to have a legal framework, law enforcement entities, a vibrant judicial system and anti-corruption organs.

In fact, a wide range of institutions solely dedicated to eliminating corruption – with varying degrees of independence – are in place, but there is still an unanswered question, why is there still cases of corruption?

Officials in the offices of authority are equally showing dedication to fighting the vice. The general ideal is that ‘acts of corruption must be investigated and punished accordingly because they undermine the democratic fabric and threaten development goals.”

On Monday, Rwanda National Police (RNP) together with National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA), Rwanda Investigations Bureau (RIB), Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) and Transparency International (TI-Rwanda) launched a week-long campaign to raise awareness against corruption.

One of the observations made at the launch, which falls under the umbrella of Police Week Activities – is that corruption is not a crime of passion, but one based on calculation. It is about perceptions; people evaluate the risks and benefits involved. If the risks are low, one tends to take their chances. On the other hand, if the risks are high, people will think twice before engaging in corrupt activities.

For well expressions, officials termed corruption as a ‘silent mode of terrorism’, and a crime against humanity that needs to be treated as imprescriptible.

“Corruption is an organized and serious crime, done in a covert manner. It can be seen that the actus reus of the offence is broad in scope. We can’t arrive to where we want to when we still have elements within our society that are corrupt,” said the Prosecutor General, Jean Bosco Mutangana.

Realities

Mutangana precisely pointed at corruption within public procurement systems where he called for an overhaul of the systems.

“Some even give bribes for tenders they would have won and this is why our fight against corruption should go beyond the traditional approach. We tackle corruption through tougher punitive measures,” said the Prosecutor General.

The tougher punitive measures are indeed highlighted in the anti-corruption bill before parliament, which Chief Ombudsman Anastase Murekezi said, accords more protection to whistleblowers and severity measures to the corrupt ones.

Figures indicate that last year, 477 cases of corruption and related crimes were reported. Of those, City of Kigali recorded the biggest number with 186 cases while Nyarugenge topped the list of districts with 71 cases.

Since the beginning of this year, Rwanda Investigations Bureau (RIB) has handled 187 cases of similar nature, and still City of Kigali is topping the list with 58 cases with Gasabo this time atop the districts with 26 cases.

The figures made public by RIB’s Deputy Secretary General, Isabella Kalihangabo, also narrows down to the local authorities dominating the corrupt agencies followed by the private sector.

Some of the challenges investigators encounter while handling cases of graft, according to Kalihangabo, includes getting sufficient evidence.

“The more we come up with the coherent means to beat the sophisticated means used in giving or taking a bribe, the higher the chances of bringing the ‘Big Fish’ to book,” Kalihangabo said.

“We appeal to financial institutions, Insurance agencies and Regulatory bodies to always vet their employees otherwise they risk incurring losses because of not keeping an eye of their staff,” she said.

Although elimination of corruption cannot be guaranteed, zero tolerance to corruption can be realized and this requires a combination of efforts especial in the governance structures, according to officials.

This, according to officials, requires clearly defined rules of engagement to guide the interaction and collaboration between the various institutions involved in the fight against corruption such as those involved in policy-making, legislative change, law enforcement and prosecution, as well as the existence of internal anti-corruption bodies in various entities.

According to the Deputy CEO of RGB, Dr. Usta Kayitesi, the more Rwanda get minimal levels of corruption, the wider the doors to investments get opened as wells as improved service delivery.

“We want to have 90 per cent of Rwandans fully satisfied with the services they are given by the year 2024. We can only achieve that if we enhance our fight against corruption,” Dr. Kayitesi said.

The 2016 Rwanda Bribery Index (RBI) that was launched last year indicated that the amount of bribe paid by Rwandans to get various services such as social protection, justice, or bank services was estimated at Rwf35.5 billion.

At least Rwf13.7 billion was spent as bribes in local government, which was almost the total expenditure of the City of Kigali in the financial year 2014/2015, according to the survey analysis.

Speaking during the launch of the anti-corruption week, the Executive Director of TI-RW, Apollinaire Mupiganyi called for increased ‘zero tolerance to impunity and asset recovery of those convicted.”

“We also have to make it impossible for anyone to give or take a bribe by strengthening the use of e-services and conduct different integrity tests – no information should be neglected on the basis of assumption,” Mupiganyi said.

According to the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP) In charge of Operations, Dan Munyuza, if all means have been tested, then there is need for self assessment or handle case-by-case rather than addressing the vice in general terms.

“We need to review the policies and the means and see where we need to improve or make changes and stop being like scarecrows,” said the Deputy Police Chief.

With the new law lined up in parliament and commitment from different entities, predictions are high that corruption levels may fall significantly in the near future.

The Express News

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