Rwanda corruption: a pitiful discrimination of culprits

View of downtown Kigali, Rwanda

The recent publicized dismissals of some ministers and deputies by the Head of State were seemingly meant to testify transparency vis-à-vis the Rwandan population about the misconduct of those officials but this trend hide a black hand of targeting one social group meanwhile covering another cherished group which is worse in those malpractices. If various reports on governance indicate that Rwanda performs relatively well in terms of control of corruption, compared to many African countries, corruption remains prevalent in the country and there have been instances of tax and public funds embezzlement, fraudulent procurement practices, judicial corruption as well as high ranking officials involved in corrupt practices. Sectors most affected by corruption include the judiciary, public finance management, public administration and public procurements. The Government is reported to conduct a firm fight against corruption and has put a number of measures and institutions in place such as the National Tender Board, the Office of the Auditor General and the Ombudsman’s Office. The present article analyses this kind of discrimination of culprits in the Rwandan governance system.

1. Facts

Almost all sectors of the public service practice favoritism, nepotism and all other forms of corruption.

1) Corruption in Girinka program

The Girinka program designed to freely give cows to Rwandans in the framework of fighting malnutrition and poverty among the poor is affected by corruption during its implementation as evidenced by an assessment carried out by the Rwanda Agriculture Board in partnership with the Ministry of Local Governance whereby about 5141 Girinka cows were embezzled by distributing officers. Moreover, 2, 437 officials were detained over corruption practices as a result of being bribed by farmers who received Girinka cows while they were not selected as recipients of such pro-poor program.

2) Health sector bribed

In February 1995, the Ministry of Health began making reforms in the health sector according to the Lusaka declaration, which were later adopted by the Government of National Unity in March 19967 . However, the health sector faces unique corruption risks. Access to controlled drugs, complex employment agreements and billing structures, and multiple complaints systems present challenges specific to the health sector. The strong hierarchical culture within the medical profession may enable behaviors that drive or obscure corrupt conduct. But many integrity issues facing the health sector are not unique; for example, procurement and conflicts of interest have been identified as corruption risks affecting agencies across public sector in Rwanda. Corruption practices in the health sector in Rwanda exist though at lower levels (see Transparency International Rwanda’ Bribery Index). However, a number of studies have shown that corruption affects a number of areas in the health sector in Rwanda. A recent study conducted by Basel Institute in 2017 revealed that four types of practices involving petty corruption take place in the Rwandan health sector: a) bribing during the health insurance card registration process, b) favoritism in the service provision (particularly in the rural areas probed), c) gift-giving d) bribery (more prevalent in the urban setting)

3) Corrupted education sector

The Education sector shares other significant corruption risks with the broader public sector. These include risks associated with procurement and contract management, funding vulnerabilities, employment practices, and thefts of cash and smaller physical educational assets. From a survey conducted thereon, it is presented corruptions risks associated with SDG- Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all –both those specific to the education sector and those it shares with the broader public sector. Corruption seems to be one of the critical obstacles to reaching the SDGs, also with regard to corruption in the education system. In Rwanda, the level of corruption in the education system is comparatively low as shown by the Global Corruption Report 2013, published by Transparency International. According to this report, about 3 % of the people paid bribe in education in Rwanda, compared to e.g. Ghana (38 %) or the global average (15 %), this figure is rather low. However, as the report further shows, especially disbursement of the funds allocated by the Rwandan Government and the compliance with the guidelines on how the money should be spend, are critical issues. Overall, 4 % of the people see the education system as corrupt or highly corrupt.

4) Sex based corruption

Corruption and gender inequality are in many ways closely connected. Men and women are affected by corruption in different ways, and are subjects and objects of different corrupt practices and behaviors. Evidence shows that women perceive and experience corruption differently than men, and that women suffer corruption to a greater extent due to the unequal power relations between men and women. Corruption exacerbates these power dynamics, limiting women’s access to public resources, information and decision-making, thus reinforcing social, cultural, and political discrimination. There are forms of corruption such as sexual extortion and petty corruption which constitute a heavy burden for women. Sexual extortion—one of the appalling gendered forms of corruption—can be defined as the abuse of power to obtain a sexual benefit or advantage. This phenomenon affects women and girls throughout worldwide, especially in low and middle-income countries and remote areas. Sexual extortion is rarely included in the definitions of corruption, despite the fact that it has been documented that women and girls are often forced to provide sexual favors rather than money to access public services. According to the Transparency International, sexual harassment, exploitation and the use of sex as a form of ‘payment’ are some of the specifically ‘gendered’ forms of corruption. Here, Gender Based Corruption is considered when someone is demanding favors, such as of sexual nature, in exchange for a service. Any person who explicitly or implicitly demands or benefits from, or accepts favors due to gender differences as a promise in order to accomplish a duty, or to refrain from carrying out his/her duties.

5) Favoritism in staff recruitment

Lack of meritocracy, nepotism, favoritism, misuse of human resources management positions, collisions between HR managers and their bosses, non-qualified examiners, etc. … all these have resulted in a loss of 1.5 billion Rwandan francs in three years, as the figures of the study conducted by the Ministry of the Public Service and Labor (MIFOTRA) indicated. The Study was conducted in order to identify why the number of Job candidates appeals went up in past five years and it was noted that this is due to “violations of the laws governing public service employment and corruption as well as emotional grading favoring unskilled candidates.”

6) Factors

The causes of corruption lie in part in political and cultural reasons. Ineffective law enforcement may further promote it. It is striking that it is regularly lower in democratically governed countries (form of government in Rwanda: Presidential republic). Similarly, higher corruption occurs predominantly in low-income countries. In Rwanda, per capita income is 850 USD annually, which is extremely low by global standards. The cost of living is well below the global average, indicating massive socioeconomic problems.

7) Favoritism, nepotism

For managers, directors, and executives, ethical dilemmas are common, but necessary, components of the daily demands of their profession. One prominent and rampant ethical dilemma is the issue of favoritism, i.e., giving preferential treatment to select individuals or groups for their relationships rather than for objective or merit based reasons. One of the most common forms of favoritism is the act of hiring an otherwise unqualified family member (i.e., nepotism) or friend (i.e., cronyism) over a qualified stranger. Favoritism can manifest in various aspects of one’s job, such as job advancement or publication opportunities, among others. In recent years, various exposés of unethical conduct and corruption by political and business leaders quickly cascaded through news media and caught the ire of the frustrated public, fueled by the already turbulent state of political and economic affairs. Favoritism was no exception and was the subject of headline news across the country where favoritism in hiring practices where recruiters take decision to appoint close individuals to high advisory roles despite their questionable track record of relevant experiences.

2. Analysis: Discrimination in blaming misbehaviors

These days, those who are targeted by public dismissals for gross misconduct of economic crimes and gender-based corruption come from the disadvantaged social group, i.e. Hutus

1) High officials under sex scandals covered

Minister Gatabazi was recently disparaged of having exploited his position of get a place in a high ranked school on sex favors as if he is the only one who commits this baseness. People who commit sexual corruption to get female staff are numerous. Indeed, quite young female leaders have had to have sex with a high dignitary of the RPF or a more influential general in the regime beforehand to access the post of minister, deputy, senator, secretary general, and director general and whenever detected they are never blamed. It is the case of former minister James Musoni who destroyed the household of a retired captain and ridiculed by the media was removed from the post of minister of infrastructure and immediately assigned as ambassador in Zimbabwe. The other case is that of the high dignitaries and generals who prostituted our misses in hotels that the state covers up in the trial of Prince Kid who is relegated to the camera for fear that he will reveal them to the curious public

2) Embezzlement cases

Bamporiki Edward renowned for begging for favors from the regime to the point of accusing his mother of genocide ideology was chased from his post of state minister in the ministry of sport and culture and later on sentenced to 4 years and sixty million for demanding corruption of some 5 million. Whereas we have many officials who embezzled billions of amounts denounced by the general auditor of public finance; they remain untouchable without any other form of trial or disciplinary measure. On the contrary, the auditor general who had targeted them was relieved of his duties.

3) Deputies ridiculed and fired

Dr Mbonimana resigned and issued apology hours after Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame had earlier criticized an unnamed Parliamentarian for drinking and getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. The criticism came during President Kagame’s address to law enforcement agencies on the importance of the prevention of children from accessing alcohol. Reports say that Habiyaremye Jean Pierre Celestin, who is in parliament on ruling party ticket, was recently spotted in public while arguing with the traffic police. Habiyaremye was summoned by police last week over an offence he committed in 2020.He was arrested by police on his way from Musanze district because he had gone beyond COVID-19 curfew hours. That time his car was impounded and he was penalized. Following his arrest in 2020, he later faced the parliamentary commission on disciplinary charges, pleaded guilty and promised never to commit the same mistake. The legislator added that being questioned about a law breaking, in addition to videos that have been going viral on social media platforms, showing him arguing with police officers made him take a personal decision to resign. However, the media close to the regime claim that many parliamentary delinquents to involve that only were targeted those who do not have solid recommendations in the regime.

4) Discriminated corruption in the judiciary

Many magistrates and clerks are hunted for corruption of a few thousand Rwandan francs but the big fish who have grabbed hundreds of millions in lucrative lawsuits are not worried, on the other hand they are among the detractors of these formers. Indeed, it is an organized corruption where the judges or clerks who received the bribe inform their superiors with whom they share the loot. When you attempt an isolated case of corruption outside the clique, your days are numbered in the judiciary because you do not know how to submit the “report”

Conclusion

It is very shocking to see an institution of the same government, which hires the same company and later you find the same company in the same government institutions charge different costs while we use the same budget from the same national treasury, and for me, I see this happening because of our recklessness. The worm is in the core of the regime because the embezzlers of public funds who had been pushed there by the great chief are not worried and when this has exceeded the limits of discretion, they have been transferred to other more attractive positions. To sum up, there is a long way between the reports praising the regime when it comes to transparency and the fight against corruption and the real practice on the ground where you cannot get a job without knowing each other with the employer in such and such a way, and large sums are not easily robbed by unknown hands; there is always a latent order of high authority in the country that wants to replenish its slush fund.

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