The Government of Rwanda has put the fight against corruption at the top of his political agenda. Many institutions were put in place and strong legal framework adopted. In August 2018, the law No 54/2018 of 13/08/2018 on fighting against corruption was enacted and it includes new provisions aiming to deter corruption and public funds embezzlement.

Beyond the government efforts, CSOs spearheaded by Transparency International Rwanda are contributing to the national struggle against corruption. Transparency International Rwanda is very known through various surveys on corruption he publishes. The very much known one is Rwanda Bribery Index, an annual survey which measures level of “Petit corruption” according to citizen’s perception and experiences. On 12/12/2018, Transparency International Rwanda launched the 9th edition.

Some institutions with high interactions with citizens in service delivery processes or with limited internal rules and accountability systems are still vulnerable to corruption behaviors by their employees.

“Just in the week of the publication of RBI 2018, the Police in the city of Kigali arrested two employees of Water Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) for allegedly soliciting for bribes. This case is not isolated!”

Corruption cuts across various institutions—public, private and civil society organizations alike.

The prevalence of bribe by services is widespread in securing unlawful construction permits, which is at 44.12 per cent followed by getting a driving license through illegal procedures at 38.64 per cent, among those who said that they paid bribe.

Bribe in procurement in private sector is at 33.33 per cent while 20.14 per cent who get jobs in the private sector are a result of bribery.

Again, among the responds who said they paid a bribe (2.08%), the report states that 22.76 per cent of them got cows under the Girinka programme issue bribes.

For WASAC bribes are usually offered when customers seek services to install water taps and replace metres.

Looking at the prevalence percentages and going by institutions, it is clear that corruption cut across and few institutions were cited.

The New Times interviewed some officials whose institutions have the highest prevalence in bribe as per the report to get an in depth understanding of why corruption has been sustained and what extra measures need to be taken to weed it out.

Rwanda Energy Group

Ron Weiss, the Chief Executive Officer, says that it is a shame that the energy group is among the top institutions with high prevalence of corruption.

“Our approach is zero tolerance towards any corrupt behaviour.  Among other strategies put in place include the reduction of human interaction in service delivery by introducing the use online platform and ensuring that payments are only done via our bank accounts,” he said.

Participants following the presentation.

However, he says, efforts put in place by REG are starting bear fruits with bribery prevalence showing a declining trend.

Prevalence of bribery has dropped from 8.6 per cent last year to 7.57 per cent this year, he said.

“We will never stop making these efforts till we reach to zero case of corruption in our company,” he added, stressing that REG would keep mobilizing its staff to avoid any corrupt behavior.

He noted that while special platforms have been set up to enable citizens to report corruption while citizens can send an SMS or Whatsapp message on 0788310606 or call our toll free number 3535 to report corruption attempts.

Water Sanitation Corporation

James Mwijukye, the Director of Commercial Services at WASAC, says that there have been continuous struggle to ensure that cases of corruption at WASAC are minimised.“It is a pity that people are still asked to pay corruption on services they are entitled to. We have had cases of our staff being involved in asking for bribe and some of our clients have been complaining about being asked for corruption,” Mwijukye said.

He said that WASAC collaborates with other responsible institutions to pursue and eliminate corruption cases in the organisation.

Some officials have been dismissed while others have been penalised.

While there are no official statistics of the number of WASAC employees who were dismissed due to bribery and corruption, Mwijukye cited recent five cases including one involving two people arrested early this week.

He said that in some cases there is collusion between WASAC staff and clients.

“We have online system that we will launch soon as it is at its final whereby we expect it reduce physical interactions as clients will apply for services online and get services,” he said.

Another way would be self-declaration whereby clients would check online and know how much water and the amount to be paid and pay the money on any given WASAC account.

WASAC also has a tall free number (3535) where complaints can be channelled whenever any of their staff is involved in taking bribes.

It has also rolled out awareness campaigns against any sort of corruption.

Private Sector Federation

Callixte Kanamugire, the Chief Advocacy Officer at Private Sector Federation said it remains an issue of concern that there are corruption incidents within PSF, adding efforts are being made to uproot the cancer.

“It’s quite absurd that corruption still exists even in private sector as indicated in the Rwanda Bribery Index report 2018. We intend as the Private Sector Federation to come up with new policies including making sure that our members have rules and regulations that govern their operations,” he said.

He added that in order to curb the vice, PSF also plans to carry out awareness campaigns to ensure that its members have suggestion boxes “that can help in effective reporting of any irregularity that causes bribes.”

Local Government

Bob Gakire, Director General for Territorial and Governance in Ministry of Local Government, said that fighting corruption remains a challenge given the nature and structural issues where in some cases volunteers are used at grassroots and end up asking for facilitation, which tantamount to corruption.

“For instance, the community volunteers are often requested to perform tasks beyond their portfolio and as any human nature some requests to be facilitated by someone who is seeking the service from them,” he said.

He added that the government plans to train volunteers on ethics and values with beliefs that it would impact towards zero tolerance to corruption.

“Corruption in local government is reducing as indicated by recent different surveys including the recent one of Transparency International, which recognized that Corruption reduced from 7.7 percent in 2018 to 5.52 the previous year,” she said.

“We have been dealing with it differently through taking severe administrative sanctions including dismissing whoever is involved. For instance from Jan 2014 to Feb 2017, a total of 315 staff were either dismissed or punished because of indulging in corruption felony,” he said.

The other measure, he said  was automating  services to avoid delays and physical contacts since the framework also attempts corruption especially those services that are requested by majority of citizens like birth certificate, construction permit, seeking administrative services among others.

The Ministry has established an online platform dubbed e- Citizens Complaints Tracking System that facilitates information on corruption by sharing the corrupt entities and persons involved.

“This information is availed the communities and any person can send the info directly to MINALOC or the District dialing 5353 in an USSD way,” he said calling for the public to play their role by informing whoever is involved in corruption.

In Judiciary

Despite high political will in fighting corruption (Sobanuza that was established by the judiciary, the prevalence of bribery increased from 4 to 8 % in the same sector.

Judiciary spokesperson Harrison Mutabazi said the judiciary has put in place “very many strategies” to fight graft, including anti-corruption committees in all levels of the national court system which evaluate all information on suspected cases.

“The inspection of courts is another big element because this follows up all cases brought up to end,” he said.

In Police

In an interview with The New Times, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Jean Nepo Mbonyumuvunyi, acknowledged the magnitude of the problem the Rwanda National Police is grappling with.

“What we are doing is working to digitize the whole system of service delivery especially in traffic police and especially in the field of exams and testing for driving permits,” he said.

The CCTV cameras installed along roads countrywide, he said, also come in handy when it comes to curtailing bribery of traffic police officers.

“The CCTV cameras installed countrywide help us monitor our staff. Then we have mobile surveillance teams in civilian clothes who conduct unannounced spot checks. It is tough but we are doing our best. Corruption is a bad culture.”Mbonyumuvunyi added.

Civil Society speaks out

Jean Leonard Sekanyange, the Spokesperson of Civil Society platform said that while no country is free from corruption, a lot needs to be done to minimize its trend in the country that aspires to zero tolerance on the vice.

“Awareness campaigns and strong laws have helped the country minimize the magnitude of corruption but we still have people who want to use corruption as a shortcut to get rich despite knowing that they will get harsh punishments upon conviction,” he said

He said that there is need for top authorities of institutions to ensure employees report regularly on the process of services they intent to offer to citizens.

Apollinaire Mupiganyi, Executive Director of Transparency Rwanda. / Photo, Arch

He said that even establishing online platforms which citizens can use to seek services won’t be enough without monitoring as criminals can devise new ways to get corruption.

“Leaders are responsible for regular monitoring and mitigate corruption and fill the loopholes of corruption, there are strong laws but there is a problem in monitoring,” he said.

Civil Society is also corrupt

According to Rwanda Bribery Index, Civil Society Organizations are among the corrupt institutions that are corrupt and need to do more.

Sekanyange said that while the platform is made up mainly by independent institutions and Non-Governmental organizations, they should also stick values and ethics and respect laws.

“Civil Society Organisations are the one that should be fighting corruptions but We are aware that some of them are also corrupt especially in promoting nepotism and in offering jobs,” he said.

“There are measures in place to ensure that all CSOs are aware that corruption is a bad vice to uproot and that their responsibility is to help in social economic development,” he added, “There is a positive trend in the country’s crusade against corruption but “there is still a lot more to be done. If we promote transparency and accountability, reduce discretion, break the negative solidarity among the corrupted employees, we will win our fight.”

Rwanda Bribery Index is an annual publication conducted by Transparency International Rwanda (TI-RW) with the support of the Norwegian People’s Aid.

It aims at establishing experiences and perceptions of this specific form of corruption in Rwanda.