In an exclusive virtual interview with The EastAfrican on Thursday, July 30, President Paul Kagame reiterated that his government will continue to mount pressure on high profile officials suspected of corruption.
“To minimize or reduce corruption like in our case (Rwanda)… simply means maximizing pressure on the corrupt. What is happening now is exactly in that direction,” President Kagame told The EastAfrican.
President Kagame emphasized that the fight against corruption is a national priority.
“We have always talked about not entertaining corruption as our way of life. That has always been at the center of the politics that I have associated with and others in this country, and I think there is respect for that,” he said.
President Kagame noted that what needs to be prioritized is a transparent process so that even a corrupt suspect knows full well that it is intolerable, all of which go hand in hand with questioning everyone’s responsibilities.
Last year, 1,187 people were tried for corruption and mismanagement of government funds.
“We have made changes. As soon as a person is investigated for corruption, all their bank accounts and property will automatically be frozen. Any individual who claims to own property of individuals suspected of corruption will also be prosecuted,” Prosecutor General Aimable Havugiyaremye told the reporters.
“This is the only way we can guarantee that money stolen from the government will be recovered and not be concealed or moved before investigations begin,” he added.
President Kagame, however, disagreed in opinion with the new change that allows freezing of bank accounts and property before investigations are complete.
“I do not see why the seizure of property should be carried out in advance, even before the case is understood or getting to the bottom of the facts. That would be wrong in my opinion,” President Kagame said.
Under the asset recovery law, properties can be seized only when there are reasons to believe that an asset is related to an offense. This is done through a court order upon conviction of the suspect.
Transparency International’s recent study puts Rwanda at the forefront of the East African Region’s fight against corruption, ranking fourth in Africa.
Figures released by Transparency International Rwanda show that in 2018, so-called small bribes were reported, amounting to over Rwf 7,7 billion.
Rueben Lifuka, the Vice President of Transparency International in the World, recently told IGIHE that Rwanda should put more effort into having strong media and NGOs in the fight against corruption, as it is one of the most productive countries in the world.