14 December 2018

Rwanda: Report Urges Greater Action On Corruption

The Rwanda Bribery Index 2018 launched Wednesday by Transparency International Rwanda (TI-RW) indicates that cases of corruption in the private sector, traffic police, the Rwanda Energy Group (REG) and the judiciary remain rampant.

The annual publication aims at establishing experiences and perceptions of bribery as a form of corruption in Rwanda. The latest publication is the ninth of its kind.

"Bribe remains high in key institutions; the private sector, traffic police and judiciary and some services including construction, public tenders, pro-poor programmes, execution of court judgments, and others. Public institutions should effectively implement anti-corruption measures and especially establish focal points in respective institutions," said Albert Rwego Kavatiri, the programme manager of TI-RW while outlining policy recommendations.

Overall, nationally, the likelihood of a bribe dropped from 4.5 per cent last year to 3.24 per cent, it showed.

Kavatiri said: "We recorded high fluctuations over time, high levels and sharp increase. In traffic police and REG, there has been an increase and this is worrying. Measures must be taken to address this problem".

"In traffic police, in 2016, it was at 9.6 per cent but it increased to 11.67 per cent last year, and to 15.14 per cent this year. The situation is no better in REG; from 2.2 per cent, to 9.19 per cent and now at 12.93 per cent. And things are not good in the private sector as well (because) what we observed as a decline in 2017 again shot up this year".

The prevalence of bribe by services is another cause for concern as, according to Kavatiri, tolerating unlawful construction, getting a driving licence illegally, procurement in private sector and release of a vehicle or motorcycle from a police station are top among the services where bribery is reported.

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 digitise the whole system of service delivery, especially in traffic police and particularly in the field of 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 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".

Appolinaire Mupiganyi, the Executive Secretary of Transparency Rwanda, said there was a positive trend in the country's crusade against corruption but "there is still a lot more to be done."

Mupiganyi, among others, highlighted the case of gender-based corruption at workplaces.

"For the sake of ensuring family livelihoods, some employees have no choice but to accept sexual advances by their supervisors or bosses," Mupiganyi said.

"For example, a widow can notice that if she doesn't give in, her boss or supervisor will plot her dismissal, which will lead to her children's starvation."

Size of bribe

Kavatiri noted that the overall average size of bribe was Rwf43,743 in 2016, Rwf36,173 in 2017, and Rwf58,065 in 2018.

"This is nearly Rwf8 billion being paid in bribes. This is about the annual budget of a district. This is a lot of money. It means we just cannot afford to downplay the impact of bribery."

The share of bribery by institutions shows that local governments take the largest portion, 30.9 per cent, traffic police come second with 29.69 per cent, followed by the judiciary at 16.23 per cent.

The judiciary, Kavatiri explained, have few individual cases but "they take a lot of money [bribe] and that's why they come up at number three."

However, he noted that findings indicate that "in most cases, services are still delivered when bribes are not paid," something that should be encouraged.

"You cannot be penalised for refusing to pay a bribe. But, in the private sector, 10 per cent [respondents] say no service will be given if you don't bribe," Kavatiri said.

The State Minister for Social Affairs, Dr Alvera Mukabaramba, welcomed the findings, noting that they will help the Government in fighting corruption.

She said e-services and protection of whistle-blowers are among the new mechanisms being used to fight graft.

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