Informal Governance and Corruption
Having overcome conflict and genocide, in the mid 90s Rwanda’s government, led by the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), set about taking the country down a different development path. This approach comprised the enforcement of strong discipline across the public sector, the politicisation of the masses through education, and placed an emphasis on sacrificing individual interests for the public good. Consequently, the ruling party has taken a strong, public stance against corruption.
Today, Rwanda is seen not only as a champion in fighting corruption but also as an economic success story in Africa: between 2005-2011, annual economic growth maintained at a robust 8%, and both headcount and extreme poverty ratios
both fell by 12%. It is also an anti-corruption success story. The Rwandan case therefore holds valuable lessons for development and anti-corruption practitioners. A key objective of the research was to shed light upon the underlying factors and drivers of the Rwandan success in fighting corruption and placing the analysis against the backdrop of broad, system-level processes that are plausibly associated with lower discretionary space and less opportunity for corrupt actions.
Key points from the research include:
- Petty corruption as a normalised practice has been effectively eliminated in Rwanda. This has to do with the promotion of behaviours associated to Rwandan national identity that are aligned with respecting the rule of law, and this is reinforced with harsh punishments for those found guilty of corruption.
- -Rwandan citizens can generally obtain the services they seek without having to resort to bribery, gift giving or favouritism.
- Public officials are tightly monitored by participating in ‘Imihigo’, where they enter into annual contracts with the public authorities Kagame that set personal and institutional performance goals. Performance monitoring is subsequently undertaken against the Imigiho goals; it is considered a serious dishonour if commitments are not fulfilled.
- Digitisation of all government processes (e.g. ‘Irembo’), including paying taxes and the transfer of money to and from public officials, means that typical avenues of soliciting bribes or stealing public funds are very difficult to pursue.
- The need for public officials to co-opt and demand bribes is diminished by proper pay and processes; and the need for citizens to participate in petty corruption is reduced because sufficient investments have been made in services, as well as anti-corruption measures.
Download: Rwanda country report