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Corruption: Ombudsman cautions private sector
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The Ombudsman has vowed to crack down on businesses that connive with public servants to fraudulently win contracts.

Aloysie Cyanzayire sounded the warning while officiating at a half-day anti-corruption workshop in Kigali, yesterday.

It was jointly organised by the Office of the Ombudsman and the Switzerland-based Basel Institute, under the theme, “Public-private collaboration to prevent corruption.”

Cyanzayire said that even though Rwanda has made tangible strides in combating corruption in the public sector, the struggle to ensure and sustain a corrupt free-economy would be futile without tackling the vice in the private sector.

“We have seen more corruption cases reported in the private sector compared to public sector and this undermines the efforts to eliminate corruption in Rwanda,” said Cyanzaire.

(L-R) Antoine Manzi Rutayisire Director of Capacity Building and Entrepreneurship promotion at the Private Sector Federation, Ombudsman Aloysie Cyanzayire and Gemma Aiolfi the Head of Compliance and Corporate Governance and Collective Action at the Basel Institute on Governance.

The Corruption Perception Index 2014, and Rwanda Bribery Index 2014 report by Transparency International ranked Rwanda the least corrupt country in East Africa, fifth on the African continent and 55th globally.

Cyanzayire said this showed that the country was on course to tackle corruption but warned that there was still a long way to go in realising a corrupt-free society.

The 2015 Ombudsman’s office report also indicates that corruption in the country is on the decline.

The 2013/14 report indicates that 17 per cent of Rwandans acknowledged an increase in corruption while the 2014/15 report noted a decline with only 6 per cent of respondents, saying that there was corruption in Rwanda.

“We don’t have to wait until corruption statistics hurt our economy to react. Through such dialogues and collaboration, with the private sector, we want to bring it to their attention and devise means to fighting corruption as a unit,” Cyanzaire added.

Antoine Manzi Rutayisire Director of Capacity Building and Entrepreneurship promotion at the Private Sector Federation introduces participants from the Private Sector Federation Chamber that attended the meeting on Public-private collaboration to prevent corruption.

The workshop brought together about 80 participants from the private sector and public institutions including, Police, Supreme Court, Auditor General’s office, among others.

Antoine Manzi Rutayisire, the director of Private Sector Federation member service, capacity building and entrepreneurship promotion, acknowledged that corruption could be comparatively higher in the private sector.

He, however, claimed that public institutions have a role in the matter, in terms of bureaucracy and stiff procedures while awarding contracts to entrepreneurs which he says fuels corruption.

“We are not pointing fingers, however, we have to realise that if the private sector is the giver of bribe then the public sector is the receiver. Most of these corruption cases are reported during public contract negotiations.

Contractors tend to bribe procurement officers in abid to win contracts and the cycle goes on. We need to identify the source and put strict measures in place, in terms of dialogue and sensitisation campaigns to fight the vice,” said Manzi.

PSF, together with the Office of the Ombudsman, have managed to sensitise 2,500 business people from all the provinces about graft.

Some of the participants from the Public and Privates sector follow presentations on how to fight corruption. (All photos by Doreen Umutesi)

Gemma Aiolfi, the head of corporate governance, compliance and collective action, Basel Institute, said the removal of bureaucracy in public contract management shall play a big role in combating corruption.

“Public-private collaboration in fighting corruption is very important. They need to work together to solve the issues. You need to have companies that are willing to stand up and say, ‘we don’t want to give bribes anymore’ and promote the culture of integrity,” said Gemma.

Gemma added that, “It takes two to effect a bribe, somebody to pay and somebody to take it, somebody to ask for it and somebody to receive it. Pointing the finger and blaming the other side is not an option. Everybody has to take responsibility.”

She also noted that bureaucracy can increase the chances of bribery.

“So reducing bureaucracy is a good way to help reduce corruption. Using online e-procurement and e-system can help make things more transparent.”