Participating in Positive Change

Agendia Aloysius' line of duty

header photo

CONAC, the New Deal, the Media and PATRIOTISM

August 5, 2009

 

I was bewildered when I read on various Cameroon online news sites of how the President of toothless bulldog “anti corruption” unit known by its French acronym as CONAC, qualified Cameroonian journalists as unpatriotic because they do not paint a good image of the country abroad.

 

 

To say the least, that utterance was being too simplistic for Mr. Paul Tessa and his team, in their bid to calm the uproar that has accelerated following the publishing of a report alleging, though not denied by the accused, that President Biya embezzled billions of state funds, financed sects with tax payers’ money, among other atrocities.

 

The same media organs labelled as unpatriotic gave Mr Tessa, his team and other ruling party- big wigs, as well as independent observers, airspace, newspaper pages to “clean” the name of the president like Gregoire Owona did in Le Jour newspaper. He justified Biya’s wealth to the fact that he has been a senior civil servant for over 40 years. According to him, Biya’s son, Frank Emmanuel Biya, is a major forest exploiter and should own the wealth he has across the globe. This was the same with The Post, Eden etc that all carried the views of some senior English-speaking ministers in the government on this issue.

 

In reaction to the utterances of CONAC President, Zachary Ngniman, former CRTV journalist, CPDM parliamentarian and now the so called anti corruption unit Head of Communication asserted the claims of Tessa. In the same line, Charles Ndongo who thinks being patriotic is reviewing and reiterating (not analysing) successive president Biya speeches confirmed Tessa claims just as Alain Bilibi still of CRTV.

My worry is; what does Mr Tessa and his team define as patriotism?

Even without checking in any dictionary, I understand patriotism is the love of one’s country and the readiness to even die for it.

HOW is the love for one’s country measured?

The love for one’s country is simply putting the interests of the nation ahead of individual desires. It is obeying the laws for ordinary citizens, paying your taxes, it is creating good laws by MPs, it is negotiating deals that favour the country on any business line.

In fact, it is taking responsibilities and making sure Cameroon as a nation is no looser in any of our actions. For journalist, patriotism is digging out the irregularities, news in the country and publishing them. It is as well appreciating other positive efforts done by the public. It is honouring the public’s right to know while respecting professional deontology.

 

The actions of journalists would not be complete if their reports do not act as basis for investigation. A free and reliable press and an independent judiciary make a strong nation. These are the kind of institutions we need not “strong” men to take the country hostage.

 

When marionettes like Mr Tessa are appointed to head so called anti corruption unit, they certainly give a damn to what the press writes because they do not care for the interest of the country and most especially, because, they are serving the person who appointed them. Patriotism is not flooding newspaper pages with motions of support.

It is not organising media outings to justify or denounced the ills that have been reported by the press.

Inasmuch as some press in Cameroon including the public media is wanting, it is understood that most of what is written by the press in Cameroon have elements of truth. Journalists rely much on leaked information and the government of Cameroon is full of thieves and unpatriotic people, they leak much information often to the press and unfortunately, press reports have never served the real intention.

A lot more do speculate because journalists in Cameroon virtually have no access to information. It is therefore normal of a journalist to question the wealth of a mere custom officer who earns 200. 000 francs a month but can construct a villa for 25, 50. 75 or 100 million when he has not even on duty for 20 years. This goes same for ministers, school heads, delegates, general managers, security and health officials and any ordinary citizen.

The New Deal, Cameroon and the false perception

The 27-year-old New Deal Government under the command of President Biya, excellently masters how to deceive the world. A reading of the press in Cameroon makes you draw an immediately conclusion that Cameroon is a very free country. Nevertheless, the unfortunate thing is that the New Deal has never used the press for the right purpose. In creating such a “free” atmosphere, the impression is given to the world that Cameroon is free, whereas, it is not. The violent suppression of the February 2008 legitimate protests are there to testify and the government cared less about what was written by the press thereafter.

 

The press may be free in writing what they want but the in terms of economic and politics, Cameroonians are not free. The government has adopted the “I don’t care attitude”.

Mr Tessa certainly knows so well about other phantom corruption bodies like ANIF, Supreme State Control and Audit, CONAC, other plethoric anti corruption commission in various ministries. The bottom line should not be the creation of these several useless bodies, which continue to suck Cameroon economically.

 

The most important thing is empower these bodies, make these institutions strong. If President Paul Biya is the number one Cameroonian in everything in as it is usually said, he should champion the patriotism through making sure that elections are free and fair so that in the first place, the people we get in parliament are not virtually appointed but legal and legitimate representatives of the people. His appointments should not be base on allegiance but also and most importantly, on merit.

 

He should make sure that he and his colleagues strike a balance between any deals they make and the interest of our nation. He should make sure that meritocracy is given a chance so that we may have the right people in the right places like ENS, ENAM, Polytechnic, EMIA, etc.

 

The foundations of mediocrity being built in Cameroon is the foundation of unpatriotism because wrong people are put in the wrong place and they keep doing things with impunity and sinking Cameroon more into the abyss.

 

I had earlier written that Cameroon desperately needs patriotism not necessarily capitalist democracy. With the economic and moral decadence in Cameroon that has been enhanced by the inertia of the government for 27 years, many Cameroonians do no longer think of the future but rather, of their survival for the next minutes. That is why they can be easily bought. A short-sighted and disorganised opposition has also caused more harm.

 

Even those who have “successfully” left the country, many are still in moral, intellectual and economic bankruptcy reason why they thronged Ottawa not to receive Biya but, to share the bank notes they were promised. The same thing happened in Paris last July. Should we call this patriotism?

 

What Cameroonians expect of CONAC

Mr Tessa and team, have the duty of investigating/fighting corruption in Cameroon and making public their results. Investigate corruption in our education, health. customs, taxation, police, transport sectors .

CONAC should indentify those corruptly accumulating posts and receiving double salaries whereas others are jobless, those constantly changing their ages to die in pubic service, those stifling the kick-off of local initiatives but are ready to allow pseudo expatriates control our economy and exploit Cameroonians, those out of the country but still receiving their salaries. We expect CONAC to organise at least, monthly conferences to tell us what they have done while channelling their report to the judiciary to continue from there.

 

The president of CONAC was opportunistic to seize the period when their mentor has been accused of embezzlement to say that Cameroonian journalists are not representing the image of the country well. What are the numerous diplomatic services doing? If I were part of their moribund organisation, we would investigate the issue and call all those concerned to book, even the president.

 

Do they think it is even patriotic for their mentor to avoid skilful Cameroonians and lavish taxpayers’ money on so-called international communication agencies and public relation companies who have never been effective in helping Cameroon any way?

CONAC is not in a position to give people lessons on patriotism when seemingly, they cannot even do their own job well.

 

I would like to invite CONAC to look at what the press in countries like Sweden, Norway, South Africa, even next-door Nigeria write. Areas where public officials and institutions have nothing to hide from the public. CONAC president seems to have been comparing the Cameroonian press to that of other francophone-failed states like Gabon, Chad, and Congo Brazzaville, Central African Republic etc where leaders have refused to leave power or have almost installed monarchies etc.

Go Back

I agree that there are still many dictatorships in Africa, but I don't think that this is linked exclusively to some "french influence". Just look at Uganda and Zimbabwe and even Rwanda. Shanda Tonme, also from Cameroon has an interesting view on democratic development in Africa on france24 http://tinyurl.com/create.php



Comment