Huffington Post

The President of the Republic of Rwanda, Mr. Paul Kagame, on Tuesday, said the anti-graft war can be won in Africa or elsewhere if it starts from the top.

He also said corruption has become the norm on the continent because leaders have made it acceptable.

He said corruption does not take decades to eradicate but with determination it can be eradicated quickly.

Kagame made the submissions at the National Democracy Day Anti-Corruption Summit in Abuja, which was organised by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The theme for the summit was “Curbing electoral spending: A panacea for public corruption”.

He said African leaders must make sure that anti-graft institutions work because they are created to give results.

He said: “Corruption needs to be tackled from the top down using four key principles: “culture, responsibility, accountability and effectiveness. It is also the most effective because it empowers the public to join the fight. In that wise, corruption can be reduced to the minimum.

“Where corruption has become the norm, it is because leaders have made it acceptable.

“We tend to pay more attention to petty corruption than the monumental because the rich and the powerful are the most beneficiaries.

“Corruption does not take decades to eradicate, it can be eradicated quickly if we decide to do away with the habit. We are in charge of our own habit.”

Kagame said the fight against corruption is not an easy one for any leader.

He said: “You risk many things, including bad names if you are fighting corruption.

“The so-called opposition members will turn us into authoritarian leader because of anti-corruption campaign.

“But choosing between fighting corruption and being authoritarian, I prefer being called authoritarian.”

The Rwandan President insisted that the war against corruption is winnable.

He said: “There is one of your own [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala], who wrote a book, titled, fighting corruption is dangerous; so she gave me the book, and as I was looking at the title, I reminded her and said you need to be thinking of writing another book to state that not fighting corruption is even more dangerous.

“This is a fight that can be won; tolerating corruption is a choice, not inevitability. It is within our power to end it.

“That is the most important starting point; otherwise, it will be a waste of time to keep talking about it.

“We have to set our sights high, it is not enough to fight corruption just as merely fighting poverty, it is too small an ambition for Africa.

“We want to create value; we want to create wealth, not merely fighting corruption.”

Kagame also said corruption is not peculiar to any particular culture or continent.

He added: “We must discard the myth that corruption is endemic to a particular culture.

“Corruption is a universal weakness, not an African one, and it is not part of our destiny as a continent.”

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