Amidst accusations of tyranny and rights abuses, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, has been credited for Rwanda’s transparency, after anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International revealed that Rwanda was by far the least corrupt country in East Africa.
The survey which measured bribery levels in the private and public sectors in East African nations was conducted between January and March this year, and showed the Kagame run nation as most transparent.
Human Rights Watch, one of Kagame’s most persistent critics say he is ruthless, repressive and intolerant of criticism, and corruption is so low because Rwanda is a “police state.”
However, Kagame is widely considered to be the most dynamic and effective leader in Africa today.
He [Kagame] has ensured that Rwanda has one of the highest sustained rates of economic growth on the continent, the least amount of corruption and red tape, and it is the only country in the world to have a majority of women in its parliament.
While Kagame has been credited for the low rate of corruption in Rwanda, Transparency International said it was unable to generate a comparison of how Rwanda’s institutions fared because reports of bribery were so low – and no Rwandan organization was included in the regional comparison.
According to analysts, sixteen years after the 1994 genocide in which Hutu extremists orchestrated the slaughtered more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, with the treasury looted and corpses stuffed down the wells, Rwanda is now the safest, cleanest country in Africa, with no slums and virtually no begging or street crime.
Richard Grant of the Telegraph.co.uk reports that in Rwanda, plastic bags are outlawed for environmental reasons, and in Kigali, the capital city, skyscrapers are rising, and the streets are swept clean every morning. The death penalty has been abolished, and English adopted as the official language. There is a national health system, 19 out of 20 children are now in school, and rural Rwanda, while still in severe poverty, has better internet service than rural Britain, and a good network of immaculately paved roads.
Kagame has modeled his country after Singapore: a small, tightly controlled authoritarian state that has achieved a vibrant prosperity based on trade, banking and communications with much transparency.
The corruption survey comes after the establishment of East Africa’s common market came into force this month. Transparency International however warns that the level of corruption in the region threatens to hold back the common market’s full potential.
While the common market is expected to boost trade across the five East African nations surveyed, According to the survey corruption index Kenya “relinquished its position as the most corrupt country in East Africa to Burundi,” which finished as the most corrupt east African country with a corruption prevalence of 36.7%, Uganda 33%, Kenya 31.9%, Tanzania 28.6% and Rwanda 6.6%.
Last year, Rwanda emerged as the top reformer in building a secure business environment in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business 2010’ report. Rwanda registered the best massive reforms worldwide in what concerned starting a business, dealing with construction permits, registering property, getting credit, employing workers, protecting investors, trading across borders and closing business. The country also emerged as the most consistent reformer, moving from 143 to 67 in the rankings followed by Mauritius, which is 17th overall, from 24th position in the previous report.
The transparency institution noted that East Africans often do not bother to report cases of corruption in the region.