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EDITORIAL: Anti-graft campaign needs collective action
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Appeared in The NewTimes on 7th December 2015

The Office of the Ombudsman is presently leading a week-long nationwide campaign against corruption ahead of this year’s International Anti-Corruption Day, which falls on Wednesday, December 9.

The Office has dispatched teams across the country to meet and engage with different stakeholders in the war on corruption, among them businesses, civil society, and central and local government entities, a move aimed at bringing on-board more actors in the campaign against graft.

In all the meetings and consultations held, key obstacles to efforts against corruption have been identified, with some calling for stiffer penalties against those convicted of corruption.

As has been cited before by the Auditor General’s Office, the Ombudsman’s Office and other actors, public tenders constitute one of the key avenues through which corruption manifests.

Now, Rwanda is not the most corrupt country, in fact it is the least corrupt nation in the East African region and fifth least corrupt country in Africa, according to the Corruption Perception Index 2014 and Rwanda Bribery Index 2014 by Transparency International.

But while the country’s anti-corruption effort compares favourably with the situation in many other countries not just in Africa but globally, there is need to consolidate the gains hitherto made by staying the course with the strategies that are helping keep the vice in check and to devise new measures to fix loopholes in the existing anti-corruption framework.

For instance, it is not enough to just imprison those who have diverted public funds but without recovering the stolen money. Such convicts should also be forced to return the misappropriated resources – regardless of the level and nature of the job they served in at the time they committed the crime.

It is also imperative to elevate and strengthen the role of whistle-blowers in the fight against graft to encourage more people to voluntarily offer information about possible corruption cases, and thus help enforce accountability.

This involves ensuring adequate protection of those who have made important disclosures regarding possible corruption cases, and seeing to it that such information is thoroughly acted upon and letting the public know about such action.

Equally important is the need to continue broadening the anti-corruption movement, with new actors from diverse backgrounds as well as the general public increasingly being enlisted in the fight against graft.