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Cameroon-Haiti Money Saga: Doubts persist after minister’s outburst

Almost two weeks after Cameroon’s Minister of Communication ferociously attacked Le Messager and claimed the Cameroon government had issued a cheque for Haiti following the 12 January earthquake; there still seem to be more doubts as to whether any effective payments have been made.

From information recently published by the UN on all financial issues related to the disaster, the contribution of Cameroon still seem to have been omitted. Nevertheless, on March 16, Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary declared that on February 08, cheque No 2796 worth USD 1 million, was prepared  by  the Cameroon Mission at the UN under CHASE Bank and  for the benefit of Haiti Central Bank.  

 Given that no specific branch of Chase Bank was disclosed, I contacted the Chase Bank in Louisville, USA to verify about such transaction but they promised to get back to me and yet to do so. I visited the seemingly seldom updated website of the Haiti Central Bank and sent an inquiry, no reply till date. I then copied Cameroon Mission at the UN, the Presidency of the Republic to get answers to precise questions concerning the payment as I continued my investigation. Yet, nothing came up.

I wanted to know if the cheque has been cashed or funds transferred to the beneficiary and if so, when. I equally requested for a faxed copy, email or any note of acknowledgment from the Haitian government or Central Bank and if possible, a scanned copy of the cheque. Seeking to know why the Cameroon government decided to donate directly was also another issue. I got no reply for any the mails.

However, I did not end there I contacted the most renown newspapers in Haiti notably, Haiti en Marche, Le Matin, Haitian Times, Haiti Press Network, Le Nouvelliste but got a reply only from Haiti en marche which equally runs radio station,  Melodie FM. In the reply, Elsie Heart expressed doubts as to whether their country has actually received any money from Cameroon. I copied the African Union as well to check its comprehensive list of donors, and notify me if Cameroon was there, still to hear from them.

I decided to search the World Wide Web still then I could not find the name of Cameroon but for in user editor Wikipedia in which the person who posted the information alluded to Cameroon online publication of January 23 when the minister announced Cameroon’s help to Haiti. Even news organs like The Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor which wrote specifically about donations and pledges from African governments, failed to mention that of Cameroon. It must be noted even Nigeria issued but a cheque just as Cameroon government.

On the various ends of the rope, we are faced with two extremely corrupt, dishonest and disorganised governments. Both, according to the last 10 year rankings of the Transparency International have always been among the most corrupt. We seem to be faced with a situation where the government of Cameroon underestimated the capability or curiosity of Cameroonians or the Cameroonian press. This might have pushed them embezzling the money just like what happened in 1994 when money collected to support the national football team disappeared between Yaoundé and Washington, many claim.

On the other hand, the Cameroon government might have very well transferred the funds but given that it was done “directly” without passing through any “intermediary” corrupt individuals in the Haitian system may as well want to sit on the booty.

In a transparent situation, Cameroonians need to see nothing short of a scanned copy of the cheque, and an authentic note from the Haitian government acknowledging the receipt of funds. It is not a favour or the right of the Cameroon government to do that. It is their duty and responsibility to present such issues to the press and clear any doubt. It is part and parcel of good governance and accountability.

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