I had a brief meeting with my Asian friend Radjef (not real name) who is on a business trip to Rwanda and he was quick to ask How has Rwanda been able to fight corruption? It is amazing to find a corruption-free country especially in Africa. He exclaimed.
In attempting to find an appropriate answer for my friend, I started with the golden principle that has helped our country. Rwanda is well known on the African continent and beyond for her “zero-tolerance” policy on corruption and related offences, thanks to the exemplary leadership that has provided an unwavering drive, well established institutions and the legal framework. I explained.
At the fore front of the battle against corruption and embezzlement is our president, our role model – His Excellence Paul Kagame. To him, Rwanda’s leadership is driven by the ambition to improve the lives of Rwandans.
In one of President Kagame’s speeches he said and I quote, +Rwanda does not fight corruption to please others. It fights corruption because the leadership believes resources should benefit all Rwandans. Rwanda did not choose the path of development to win a prize or please anyone but ourselves.
In line with combating corruption, a number of institutions have been established and one of them is Rwanda National Police. The young but vibrant force has since its inception instituted several strategies and mechanisms to eliminate this vice.
It is amazing how Rwanda Police believes in high quality service delivery and customer relations as one of the effective pro-active measures against corruption and related malpractices and has thus invested along this line, yet this approach has yielded significantly.
As the saying goes; Charity begins at home. To effectively fight corruption, Rwanda National Police started from within, to create a corrupt-free force.
Prior to entry into service, Police Officers are well selected considering their conduct, discipline and academic background among other key factors. Thereafter, they are given professional training with morals and values which include fighting corruption and related tendencies among others. For force members, it is a known culture that corruption is intolerable and whoever associates with it, automatically becomes a non-member zero stance.
The establishment of a fully-fledged department of Inspectorate of Services and Ethics (ISE) was to enforce that. The department is mainly responsible for fighting corruption, inspection, internal audit and ensuring professionalism among other key responsibilities. The department carries out thorough research on corruption tendencies from within and outside the Police force.
Corruption in RNP attracts heavy penalties, including dismissal from the force. A number of them have since been dismissed.
Smart Policing also known as IT-led Policing is a modern approach the force has adopted to distance both citizens and officers from likely temptation. The move to have the registration of driver’s license tests online has been instrumental in combating corruption.
Officers no longer have direct contact with money paid by driver’s license seekers as the latter register online and pay directly on a provided bank account.
The new online registration system coupled with multiple automated services have reduced the number of officers who would be deployed across the country to register candidates and collect registration fee, from hundreds to only two officers who oversee and operate the online system.
Partnerships and Social Media have contributed much to combat corruption and to support other Policing Operations. The force conducts countrywide awareness campaigns, has distributed suggestion boxes up to lowest level of governance (Village). Toll-free lines 3511, 997 and 112 were also established for all members of the public to report any graft-related act, and give timely information in relation to the vice.
Besides, the force has also invested in motivating the Police Officers. Rwanda Police provides transport facilities, housing schemes, health insurance and the famous duty free-Armed Forces Shop among other welfare schemes. Undoubtedly, this is not an easy shift, however, a milestone has been achieved and the force is still en-route, focused towards excellence.
Police is responsible for investigating corruption cases and bringing those involved to justice.
Everyone who is suspected to be involved in corruption and related malpractices directly or indirectly, is investigated, prosecuted and tried before the competent courts of Law.
According to Law No. 23/2003 of 07/08/2003 on corruption and related offenses especially in its articles 10 to 27 provides for penalties including a term of imprisonment ranging from two to five years and fines depending on the nature and circumstances under which the offense was committed.
Like the saying goes, Rome was not built in one day. Rwanda has had a journey to move in order to attain such noble objectives. There may be one or two that will still tilt from the core mission and vision of the country, but it will be an individual case not an institution and even then, such individuals are dealt with in accordance to the law.
Fighting corruption remains a collective responsibility for us all, and for sure, the measures are rewarding so far.
The author is the Director for Public Relations & Social Media
Rwanda National Police