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Cooperation is key to combating corruption, says Ombudsman
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Appeared in NewTimes on 4th December 2015

Members of the Private Sector Federation (PSF) have been urged to work together in cooperatives in order to step up efforts to combat corruption within their areas of work.

The statement was made by the Chief Ombudsman, Aloysie Cyanzayire, while officiating at an anti-corruption event in Kigali yesterday.

“I want to encourage members of the Private Sector Federation to work together in cooperatives because when people work individually the fight against corruption fails. And when it fails, then their work is affected as well as the people they serve hence no development in the country,” she said.

Chief Ombudsman, Aloysie Cyanzayire gives her remarks during the meeting.
Cyanzaire also reiterated that recent reports, Corruption Perception Index 2014, and Rwanda Bribery Index 2014 report by Transparency International that ranked Rwanda as the least corrupt country in East Africa, fifth on the African continent and 55th globally showed that the country was on course to tackle corruption but warned that there was still a long way to go.

“If we are to succeed in the fight against corruption, we have to start with the main corruption cases we have in the country. Right now, most of the cases of corruption include, government tenders, getting jobs, promotions and gender-based corruption. If we succeed through sensitisation programmes to uproot these evils, then we are assured of achieving the development we have always wanted,” she added

The Chairman of the Private Sector Federation, Benjamin Gasamagera, pointed out that corruption within the private sector is rampant and was disastrous to businesses. However, he added that, as PSF, they have come up with policies to help fight the vice.

“We still have a problem on our hands and it’s in various sectors but it’s our responsibility to fight against it and not to think that one party will do all the work. This will include efforts from the government, the private sector and civil society. On our part, we have a code of ethics in place that helps us to keep members in check when it comes to corruption,” he said.

Members of the private sector federation follow proceedings at an anti-corruption event in Kigali yesterday.
Gasamagera added that together with the Office of the Ombudsman, PSF had managed to sensitise 2,500 business people from all provinces about graft. He also added that together with the National Itorero commission, 2,984 business people had attended civic education programme.

“We are also working with TradeMark East Africa to help business people with addressing the obstacles they encounter along the way that might lead to corruption. We have introduced a mobile based application known as ‘Interactive Mobile SMS Application’ that can be used to report cases of corruption within their work in the country,” he added

Seth Butera, the director of Rwanda Hospitality Association, said that the main cause of corruption is lack of cooperation among business people, especially those who are in the same industry.

“Individuals benefit more if they are in cooperatives because, that way, there are less chances of breeding corruption and it helps in building the nation. For example, people in the hotel industry should have a cooperative which could help them to get tenders and reduce the risks of corruption,” he said.

Benjamin Gasamagera, Chairman of the Private Sector Federation speaks to the media after the anti-corruption event. (Photos by Timothy Kisambira)
Butera added that the solution to this problem is introducing tough punishments for culprits, awareness programmes but, most importantly, cooperating with each other in their respective fields. The same was echoed by businesswoman Valentine Izere who said that although lack of cooperation is one of the major causes of corruption, people who give out tenders are also major players in spreading the vice.

“However much they sensitise us about corruption, the people who award public tenders should be sensitised too. They usually ask for a side-kick and since someone has to survive and also pay bank loans they end up becoming corruption culprits,” she said.

Anti-corruption related activities are still on-going around the country and will climax on December 9.