Bribe in disguise: activists warn of changing corruption tricks

Ombudsman Murekezi (second left) talking about measures to tackle corruption asTI-Rwanda Chairperson, Marie-Immaculée Ingabire (L), MP Beline Uwineza, and Auditor General Obadiah Biraro follow at Parliament.

Activists have warned about new tricks through which corruption manifests such as application of fraudulent cashless system, or disguising bribes as legitimate money transactions.

Such ploys, they said, are used in an attempt to avoid facing the wrath of the law. They argued that rooting out corruption in the changing forms is a daunting task that requires effective tactics.

They were on Friday, February 7, 2020, providing their insights during a consultative meeting on the overview of the status of the different forms of corruption in Rwanda.

The session was organised by the Rwanda Parliament through the African Parliamentarians Network against Corruption – Rwanda (APNAC-Rwanda).

Talking about the tricks that people use in provision and receipt of corruption, Marie-Immaculée Ingabire, Chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda said that some police officers no longer get bribes upon physically from car drivers.

“Traffic police officers these days tell car drivers to go and pretend to urinate in a nearby place, then put the bribe where they can see so that they come and continue the journey. The Police officer goes and pick it later,” she said.

Some people, she said, are applying cashless means to give bribes in a sophisticated plot.

“If a person wants to give a bribe to a given official, they go through a chain of people whose network is difficult to link. For instance, a person wanted to offer bribe [via mobile money] to a prosecutor and passed it through [the phone number of] their former house servant,” she said.

Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) Secretary-General, Col Jeannot Ruhunga also acknowledged that people are increasingly getting sophisticated in the way they give or take bribes.

“A person goes to a shop in a commercial district and gives bribe to a businessperson there so that they take it to an official in the government or any other individual that they need a service from. And, they (the businessperson) gives the bribe provider a false receipt pretending that they purchased products. That bribe reaches the beneficiary,” he said.

“It is difficult to trace and identify such connections,” he said.

Quoting the Citizen Report Card 2019 by the Rwanda Governance Board, Ombudsman Anastase Murekezi said that “there is corruption in seeking jobs in a way that is obvious to the people.”

While corruption prevalence in public service recruitment process went down to 30.2 percent in 2019 from 33.6 percent in 2018, according to the report, Murekezi said it was still the highest compared to other sectors.

“The statistic implies that almost one out of three citizens have reported about corruption in the recruitment process,” the Ombudsman said.

“There are accounts that some people offer sex, while others give bribes to get job,” he indicated.

Although he acknowledged the desperation to get a job, Murekezi said the solution is not corruption, rather integrity and ensuring that the competent people get jobs in order to get better results in work and leadership.

“If the incompetent people are the ones who unfairly receive jobs [as a result of corruption], the future [of the country] is not good at all,” he said.

Measures to stem corruption

Murekezi said that Rwandans who commit to provide information about corruption are less than 20 percent, indicating that the culture to denounce the vice is still undeveloped.

“Mechanisms that will strengthen the fight against corruption include pursuing its culprits, and maintain political will to combat it. We should also reinforce mobilisation so as to have more Rwandans who report corruption, as well as commit to putting to good use the information that is provided,” he observed.

“We should continue to adopt technology which limits contact between people who seek corruption and those who need services,” he said.

He said that there is a proposal being considered to have anti-corruption committee in each public, private as well as civil society institution as an internal evaluation mechanism to bolster the corruption fight.

“The move can help assess funds management, corruption gaps and how to fill them,” he said.

RIB’s Secretary-General Col Ruhunga said “laws alone cannot effectively combat corruption,” underscoring that “commitment, integrity and honesty among people is also important in tackling corruption.”

Senate President, Augustin Iyamuremye said that the “mentality that leads to corruption starts as a vice in one person and grows to become a common practice to the extent that getting a service that one is entitled to a job, justice, or winning a public tender requires an ‘intermediary’.”

“The national policy for the fight against corruption aims first to help Rwandans to attain rapid development. This requires that we have leaders and politicians who are aware of the consequence of corruption and can take measures to tackle it,” he said.

Source: The New Times

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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