Forced to limit military spending to remain within the guidelines set by international financial institutions, the Rwandan authorities decided to request "voluntary contributions" in support of the military. To set an example, members of the National Assembly pledged to contribute three months salary. Despite the claim that no one was forced to contribute, superiors in government bureaucracies dictated the sums to be provided by their subordinates. In the Ministry of Justice, employees were informed of a scale of expected contributions according to annual salary. But in most government services, as well as in certain other private sectors, salaried employees were told to provide the equivalent of one month's salary. For some government employees, such as teachers, the contribution could be made in installments over a period of two to five months.72
Local administrative officials made it clear to farmers, who make up 90 percent of the population, that they too had little choice but to contribute, although there was greater flexibility as to the amount and terms of payment than was the case for salaried employees. In some places cultivators are required to provide 200 or 300 Rwandan francs (360 francs equals approximately US$1) for each person in the household over the age of sixteen and to pay in cash. In some other places, cultivators have been permitted to contribute produce. Finding cash for the "contribution" may pose serious problems for the currency-poor cultivators. As it is, many are unable to send their children to school (for which they normally must pay 300 francs per semester) or to buy medicines for the sick. Institutions such as churches have been asked to contribute as have some foreigners resident in the country. In at least one commune, residents had already been obliged to pay another "contribution" of 100 francs to support the Local Defense Force.73
Because the "contribution" was supposedly voluntary, some authorities initially stated that there would be no receipts delivered. Many people are reluctant to pay unless they are given a receipt because they fear being charged with non-compliance, being made to pay repeatedly, or seeing their money go to purposes other than that for which it was given.74
Some Rwandans have expressed concern that the money may be used to buy arms that might someday be turned against them just as contributions to the war effort in 1992 and 1993 may have bought weapons used to strike down Tutsi and members of the Hutu political opposition during the 1994 genocide.72 Human Rights Watch interviews, Gisenyi, January 31, 2000; Ruhengeri, February 8, 2000; Byumba, February 12, 2000. 73 Human Rights Watch interviews, Gisenyi, January 31, Ruhengeri, March 2, 3, 4, 2000. 74 Ibid.