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November 18, 2028

The New Times

The story goes that one time an African government minister for transport was sent on official duty in an African country, where he happened to chum up with his local counterpart. In the process, the host minister got to offering an invite for a home lunch.

On the appointed day, when they reached the host’s house, the guest’s eyes literally popped out. He could not believe his eyes and said as much. As a government minister, how could he afford to build himself a château that massive? The host offered to give him a short ride, before lunch.

At a newly tarmacked road, the car stopped and they jumped out. Pointing at the road, the host said: “This is how. This road you see”, said he, “I shaved fifty centimetres off both sides all the way to the end. It’s enough for a few houses and a none-too-thin bank account”.

The guest was still shrilling his excited amazement when they reached back home.

After quite a while, the reverse happened to be the case: the former host minister went on official duty to the country of his former guest. More or less the same process manifested and this time what the former host saw was a palace of unequalled excesses.

As before, they went to see the ‘road’. On arrival, the now-guest minister exclaimed: “But I see no road!” The host responded: “Exactly! I didn’t shave; I chomped all the centimetres!”

Of course, you’ve seen this story multiple times, in different versions. But to many of you, this may sound like a fairy tale. Your officials know that, here, the arm of the law is not long and that it’s blind to the height of government positions held.

Moreover, apart from the strong anti-corruption institutions in place, the top leadership is so hawk-eyed, looking out for any attempt at dipping dirty hands in the government kitty. To pre-empt, or catch in the act, any attempt at using government-position influence for personal gain.

To the extent that President Kagame himself has objected to terming what should prevail across this land as “zero tolerance to corruption” – to him, that imputes a positive connotation to corruption. He prefers that, for stronger emphasis, it should be “NO tolerance to corruption”.

And truly, Rwandans to a man/woman should wish that as their country is clean, so should she be cleansed. To mean that you are all clean and live in a clean environment on the outside as on the inside. Clean in how you appear, how you live, in the environment you live in, in all you do (no corruption). That those in positions of power do not blindside anti-corruption institutions.

And if you can manage to be clean all round in a short span, considering the place you are coming from, why only be among the cleanest? Why not go the whole hog and be the cleanest in the world?

What’s being asked for is not a utopia. It’s an easily liveable situation. Especially if those out to make a dishonest fast buck understand exactly what they are doing to fellow Rwandans all of who, in their history, have had to contend with abuses aplenty. Also, not forgetting this battered land.

Sadly, there are some rotten apples busy planning for that exact dishonest quick buck, despite the hordes of spikes that have been erected in their way. And in spite of seeing others being caught at it by the day. For this, that first position of all-round cleanliness remains elusive to Rwanda.

Otherwise, when it comes to policy objectives, ecosystem vitality, environmental health, corruption intolerance, all forms of cleanliness, there should be nothing to stop you from sitting at the apex of the league of the world’s cleanest countries like Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, Singapore, others. You should not be contented with being at the top in Africa.

Rwandans and this country, for their past harrowing pain, are a special case. Because of that, every individual engaging in any malpractice should feel as if bleeding holes are being drilled into their conscience.

Because except for the after-1994 generation, every Rwandan has looked death in the face, those who were lucky enough not to die at the hands of sadistic regimes. Or been hounded out of their country dishonourably. Or been treated like what the cat dragged in. This soil has ever been fully soaked in blood.

The blood of they who sacrificed to liberate this society; the blood of the innocents put to the sword for being born who they were; the blood of those misled into death trying to counter this liberation, to rewind the clock.

Let that blood be upon your hands, who engage in any kind of malpractice that hinders the progress of this ushered-in civilisation. Peddling influence; embezzling funds; inflating costs; under-delivering; using inferior material; evading taxes; nepotism; abusing land allocation; denying services to citizens; zillion others.

Itchy palms, beware! You are inviting the blood of past victims that soaked this land upon your hands.

Rwanda’s current civilisation is over and above being associated with such primitiveness.

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