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Life Reflections

Auto-criticism as one of the weapons against corruption

By September 19, 2020June 6th, 2023No Comments

September 19, 2020

That Rwanda is counted among the world’s most orderly and cleanest countries is a fact. Alone, though, that’s not overly important. More important should be that this cleanliness not only be skin deep; that it go deeper into clean governance and improved citizens’ welfare.

These are only attainable in an incorrupt and transparent environment.

To be fair to Rwanda, she is the least corrupt in East Africa and fourth least corrupt on the African continent.

Total corruption eradication is at her fingertips.

Institutions to fight this malady are in place and firm about their duty.

That corruption still rears its ugly head here and there shows that there are officials whose work is not always over the board. Sooner than later, no doubt, they’ll surface.

Citizens and fellow officials will soon learn how to tell on the offenders.

Because bribery, cronyism, nepotism, parochialism, patronage, influence peddling, embezzlement and all forms of corruption involve two or more parties. In almost all instances, there will always be different parties that are aware of the dirty act going on.

So, it looks like the whole makeup of the bribe-seeker(s), giver(s) and bystander(s) need a complete overhaul for the country to get to a no-opaqueness, no-corruption level.

And give it to government because it has tried everything. Campaigns to create awareness of the maladies, to change mind-sets towards these wrong work methods and more. It has gone the whole hog.

As we speak, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is also playing its part, hogging it out with some institutions. These last days, a number of institutions have been in its crosshairs: institutions under the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Education and others.

When it knows this government has gone all out to uplift the welfare of all peasant farmers, how does an agricultural board blow a whole Frs.128million (about US $132,000) under inexplicable circumstances? Anywhere else this would be small cake but not in Rwanda.

As only one example, seeds were kept in stores for so long that they could at best be sold on the cheap as consumption commodity and, at worst, be given away free to avoid their rotting. In the first place, they were not the type of seeds that farmers wanted.

Pray, why import, produce or multiply seeds to only keep in stores and, worst of all, without having consulted the farmers first?

Worse negligence, ineptitude, incompetence, indiscipline or whatever inexplicable failure to measure up abound in other agricultural projects, educational institutions, the list goes on.

I don’t know whether these are forms of corruption but if everything had been done in the open, responsible officials would have been guided or corrected in time.

So, how does this country still manage to keep these ineptitudes in check and stay less corrupt than many countries?

Before the RPF had ever been heard of by anyone outside its small group of adherents in clandestineness, it used to have a programme of action. Its members had to internalise its points and be guided by them for possible eventual ascendance to the leadership of this country.

Whoever fell short on any point was required to accept criticism from fellow members, openly own up and pledge never to repeat whatever mistake it was.

That criticism of a member among fellow members called “auto-criticism” today guides the ruling party’s (RPF) politics of this country, among other principles.

It is a philosophy that cannot be applied to many countries where politics is a game, not what I’d call “a science of societal self-management”.

Politics in many countries involves patronage systems that serve political power, such that you have your people (influencers) who guide their people on how to vote you into power. That is, where it’s not brute force that uses instruments of coercion to bend them in the desired direction. All these machines put into operation for attaining and retaining power need monetary and other forms of oiling.

On the contrary, politics to the RPF is a service to the society where every individual participates. Incidents of bribery, incompetence, negligence and other faults are thus censored openly and the offenders freely accept any punishment meted out, knowing its reason.

When, for example, the chairman of the RPF, President Kagame, calls an official out on some misdeed, he is fulfilling the duty sworn to by all members of the party and which has won the admiration of the rest of the citizenry.

All the official’s dirty linen will thus be poured out in the open, not caring whoever is in attendance. Be they the official’s colleagues; subordinates; members of the private sector; of the civil society; be they the youth; be they peasants; be they visiting outsiders, say them.

So, while the citizenry vote with their hearts to never let go of their performance-focused political party, diehard offenders vote with their feet rather than see their dirty linen laid bare.

Auto-criticism as a principle of governance greatly accounts for Rwanda’s near-wholesome cleanliness. Methinks the totality of that wholesome cleanliness is in near sight!

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