Rwanda leads developing nations in rooting out graft
Africa | Recent arrests of corrupt police set an example for other African countries
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 2/07/17, 11:27 am
Rwanda’s government has laid off 198 police officials across different ranks after they engaged in corruption and other malpractices. The east African country, which gained international commendation in its battle for transparency, has set an example for other African countries.
The country’s cabinet, chaired by President Paul Kagame, approved the officers’ dismissal at a Friday meeting. The sacked officials include a police superintendent and some chief inspectors of police, among others.
Police spokesman Theos Badege said a majority of the dismissed officers had solicited for bribes. Badege said the government would not tolerate any form of malpractice since police officers ought to ensure transparency and safeguard the rule of law while on duty.
“The slogan is the same: No mercy for a corrupt officer,” Badege said. “It’s automatic dismissal from the force.”
Rwanda continues to fight corruption within and outside state institutions. Transparency International ranked the country as the third least corrupt in sub-Saharan Africa and the 50th least corrupt nation among 176 countries. Rwandan authorities last year arrested nearly 200 people accused of bribing police. The country also recovered more than $8 million in evaded taxes.
“There’s zero tolerance when someone is found guilty of abuse of power and corruption,” said Apollinaire Mupiganyi, the executive director of Transparency International in Rwanda. “Corruption is a hinder for development and justice, and it promotes inequality.”
Africans across the continent are calling for a similar move towards transparency in public office. Hundreds of Nigerians on Monday took to the streets in Abuja and Lagos states to march against corruption and the country’s worsening economy. Demonstrators donned green outfits in respect for the country’s flag and carried placards that called on the government to treat people well and to reduce the cost of maintaining public officials. Seyi Law, a Nigerian comedian, called on the Nigerian government to make transparency a key factor in its politics. Zimbabwean Pastor Evan Mwarire is facing charges of subverting the government after spearheading several protests last year.
Mupiganyi said the number of people reporting malpractice in Rwanda still is low, and the government has yet to establish an independent body to investigate cases of corruption. But the fight is an ongoing process, he said: “It’s become a culture for Rwandans to fight corruption.”
Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.