Rwanda: Officials Want More Stringent Laws to Bolster War Against Graft

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Efforts to fight corruption in the country should be reinforced by enacting more laws that discourage the vice and shunning negative solidarity among corrupt leaders, officials in charge of fighting graft have said.

The leaders made the recommendation, yesterday, during a consultative meeting organised by members of the African Parliamentarians Network against Corruption (APNAC).

The forum focused on sharing challenges in the country’s war against corruption and how to address them in order to fully implement the Government’s policy of zero tolerance to graft.

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Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa gives her opening remarks during the APNAC meeting yesterday. / Timothy Kisambira
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Mayors arrive for the meeting at Parliament. / Timothy Kisambira

Among other measures to fight corruption, the meeting recommended that mismanagement of public funds be included in the country’s Penal Code as a crime so it can be penalised, dismissing any public servants who take bribes or act in solidarity with those who take bribes, and ensuring that corruption-related crimes do not have an expiry date under the Penal Code.

The leaders also rooted for more efforts to recover corruption- and embezzlement-related assets to make it difficult or impossible for bribe takers to benefit from the vice.

“It is clear that we need to up efforts to report corruption and we need to criminalise political responsibility in our laws. Total commitment of the country’s leadership at all levels is also needed in the fight against corruption,” said MP Theoneste Karenzi, a member of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee.

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Judith Kazayire, the Governor of Eastern Province, takes notes during the meeting. / Timothy Kisambira
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Speaker of Parliament Donatille Mukabalisa (L) chats with Senator Marie-Claire Mukasine, head of local chapter of parliamentary network against graft. / Timothy Kisambira

The officials recommended that the Government’s policy of zero tolerance on corruption be maintained and further promoted.

“We can’t afford to tolerate the vice as a mainstream habit in the country,” said Senate president Bernard Makuza.

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Speaker of Parliament Donatille Mukabalisa chats with Senate president, Bernard Makuza, at Parliament. / Timothy Kisambira

Police: How bribes are given

A presentation by Rwanda National Police at the meeting indicated that the latest “hidden” ways in which people hand bribes to officials and other civil servants include sizeable contributions to their weddings, buying them food and drinks, and depositing money on their hidden bank accounts abroad.

Other ways in which bribes are given include use of incompetent contractors to implement urgent projects, extending contract periods for some contractors, and calling bribes given to officials loans while they are hand-outs.

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Chief Ombudsman Aloysie Cyanzayire follows proceedings at Parliament. / Timothy Kisambira
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Sports and Culture minister Julienne Uwacu take notes during the meeting at Parliament. / Timothy Kisambira

Sexual-based corruption, petty monetary bribes exchanged between hands, and favouritism were also singled out as some of the latest forms of corruption.

The Police’s presentation was made by Jean-Nepo Mbonyumuvunyi, the commissioner for the inspectorate of services and ethics at Rwanda National Police, who urged officials to stop tolerating corruption.

Mbonyumuvunyi said public officials should strive to give citizens services that are within their rights.

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Senator Marie-Claire Mukasine, head of local chapter of parliamentary network against graft, gives her remarks at Parliament. / Timothy Kisambira

“We are seeing all of these things happening and we choose to keep quiet while we are public servants clad in good clothes and driving nice cars,” he said.

“We can’t sit here and see corruption happening without fighting it and still pretend to be patriotic. We need to keep working together to fight this vice and we need to behave in a way that resonates with the political will of our top leadership to end corruption and really eradicate it.”

MP Ignacienne Nyirarukundo agreed, suggesting that as criminals adopt new tricks to take bribes officials should also come up with tactics to fight them.

“Criminals can’t be smarter than those who were trained to fight them. What measures can be taken to ensure that police, prosecutors, and judges punish corruption?” she asked.

Prosecutor-General Jean-Bosco Mutangana said the country’s legal framework needs to be strengthened to include sanctions against mismanagement of public funds and tougher penalties against tax evasion and tax fraud.

“We need to take measures to strengthen our legal framework to punish corruption,” he said.

The meeting attracted participants that included members of the civil society, top officials working in the area of fighting corruption such as the Chief Ombudsman and the Auditor-General, as well as political leaders such as ministers, provincial governors, and district mayors.

©Alleastafrica and The News Times

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