ILLUSION 5: Rwanda is zero-tolerant for corruption
by David Himbara
If our gullible visitor has over the years swallowed the idea that Rwanda is zero-tolerant for corruption, that is because every year you see screaming around the world such headlines as “Rwanda is the least corrupt state in the East African Community.” Rwanda’s Public Procurement Law is also said to be the most stringent in Africa. Passed in 2007, this law enforces transparency, competition, and fairness in tendering and procurement processes, making conflict of interest nearly impossible in Rwanda.
Paul Kagame plays three dominant roles that render him quite literally the ‘owner’ of Rwanda thereby making the conception of “conflict of interest” a sick joke:
- He is President of the Republic of Rwanda.
- He is the Chairman of RPF, the ruling party and in this capacity, the boss of RPF’s business empire; in other words,
- He is the real Chairman of RPF’s Crystal Ventures Ltd, the conglomerate that dominates almost all aspects of Rwandan economy.
This is how Crystal Ventures limited describes itself:
- “Crystal Ventures Ltd (CVL) is an investment company established in 2009 and it acquired most of the assets of another local investment company which was founded in 1995.”
- “The company is wholly owned by Rwandan business people who pooled resources together to meet challenges of economic recovery and take advantage of growth opportunities in a virgin environment.”
- “Having made a few good investments especially in telecoms, the company earned decent returns that were reinvested to create what is now the biggest investment company in the country.”
- “In the beginning the company enjoyed monopoly power in some of its businesses but over time this has diminished.”
- “The sectors currently invested in include civil works and concrete products, construction and real estate development, telecommunications, agricultural value addition, aviation charter services, security services, printing and publishing, furniture trading and manufacturing, building materials, media systems, property management and engineering services and diversified investment groups.”
- “CVL employs over 7,000 people of whom over 4,800 are permanent employees.”
But here is the bombshell. President Kagame’s three roles have merged to such outrageous extent that conflict of interest in Rwanda has lost any meaning – conflict of interest in now ‘normal.’ It is therefore no surprise that Crystal Ventures’ wealth mainly comes from Rwandan taxpayers’ money entrusted to Paul Kagame as the President of Rwanda. In other words, Paul Kagame, the corporate giant, makes of almost all his money from Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda.
These are a few examples that have made the Rwandan President laugh all the way to the bank:
ILLUSION 5: Rwanda is zero-tolerant for corruption
- CENTRAL BANK OF RWANDA: Crystal Ventures Ltd is renovating the Central Bank of Rwanda – a government entity;
- NATIONAL STADIUM IN HUYE DISTRICT: Crystal Ventures Ltd has been sub-contracted to build the National Stadium in Huye, Southern Province;
- KIGALI CAPITAL CITY STREET LIGHTING: Crystal Ventures Ltd was contracted by the Kigali City Council to install street lights in the Rwandan Capital City;
- KIGALI-RUBAVU HIGHWAY LIGHTING: Crystal Ventures Ltd is installing Kigali-Rubavu highway lighting under ‘rural electrification’ program;
- BANK OF KIGALI MUHANGA BUILDING: Crystal Ventures Ltd built a five-storey Bank of Kigali building – Bank of Kigali is government-owned; http://www.realcontractorsltd.com/
- AVIATION CHARTER SERVICES: Crystal Ventures’ executive jets are chartered by the Rwanda government to shuttle President Kagame around the globe.
A key question to ask is this: How does the Rwandan Treasury approve and get away with such expenditures that shockingly contradict every norm and practice of ending the cancer of conflict of interest?
That is easy to answer!
The famously women-dominated parliament is dead. And the Rwandan treasurer and the accounting officer/Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, Ms Kampeta Sayinzoga, is a scandalous conflict of interest herself – she is the wife of President Paul Kagame’s nephew Byusa, who doubles as the President’s business partner. It is all in the family.
Folks, such acts would, anywhere else in the world, make a government fall.
Dr David Himbara was the Principal Private Secretary to President Paul Kagame in 2000-2002 and 2009. He was the founding chairperson of the Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU), the founding chairperson of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the founding chairperson of the Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR). A Rwandan-Canadian, David Himbara is an independent reform strategist and an Adjunct Professor at the University of the Witswaterand, South Africa which he has been associated with on-and-off since 1994. Himbara left Rwanda and returned to South Africa in January 2010.
ILLUSION 1: Rwanda is an environmental haven
ILLUSION 2: Rwandans are now reconciled
ILLUSION 3: Rwanda is a role model in empowering women
ILLUSION 4: Rwanda, towards a knowledge-based economy