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Opinion: Fighting Corruption, How Far?

Recent events in the country must have left many wondering whether the fight against corruption has gone on recess.

For instance, the main institutions tasked with tracking down corrupt individuals, like the Supreme State Audit (CONSUPE) and the National Anti-corruption Commission, (CONAC) seem embroiled in unhealthy public exposure over competence, in what the President of the Anti-corruption Commission has explained as a normal routine government audit activity.

In essence, some critics have given varied interpretations to the presence of a control mission from CONSUPE at CONAC. Similar concerns over the real purpose and intent of the fight against corruption which President Paul Biya has repeatedly said will continue without fear or favour, have been rife. The growing suspicion has been fuelled by recent debates in the National Assembly over the purchase of MA60 aircraft from China by Cameroon.

Even more, the 18 February 2014 decision by the Head of State granting remission of prison sentences that led to the liberation of individuals like Michel Thiery Atangana, his mentor, former Secretary General at the Presidency, Titus Edzoa, the former General Manager of the National Social Insurance Fund, Pierre Desire Engo and the former Government Delegate to the Douala city Council, Edouard Etonde Ekoto have been cited as signs of cracks in a war which many Cameroonians bank on for a better future.  

However, the fact that Members of Parliament have been particularly keen on the situation in the national carrier, CAMAIR-Co and the purchase of planes is not just a sign of institutional checks and balances, but also an indication of the genuine endeavour for the eradication of corruption and its consequences in the country. 

Thus, the need for accountability requires that those who handle posts of responsibility should not only manage public funds judiciously, but equally ensure that the required results are produced for the well being of the entire population. Consequently, those who continue to insist on harsher measures against public figures who mismanage State funds may not be entirely wrong because, tax-payers’ money must serve the common good. Failing which, those responsible for any form of swindling have to be brought to book.

Yet, criticisms or doubts about the determination of the Head of State to rid Cameroon of the corruption cankerworm often ignore the role of the Special Criminal Court (SCC) where some suspects have been jailed and others liberated. No matter the digressions and interpretations that have been given to the rulings made so far by the SCC, one thing has stood out clear, notably, the intractable nature of the battle against corruption.

No single individual or institution might be good enough or too much in contributing to the quest by Cameroonians for a society free of people who feed fat on public funds. Of course, part of the complication lies in the fact that those involved are citizens on whom the nation ought to depend for the much-needed development and progress. By posing acts that deprive the State of the means to move forward, they rather constitute obstacles to progress and the attendant fallouts that border on lobbies and networks for the wrong objectives.

Thus, some of the information put at the disposal of the public by the Supreme State Audit and the National Anti-corruption Commission do expose the complex and interwoven nature of corruption-related malpractices in the country such that it requires a combination of tact and systematic strategies to overcome the phenomenon.

In such a context therefore, an involvement of the administrative, judicial and legislative arms of the State may not be too much to help the country tackle the hydra-headed nature of corruption; no matter the cost that has to be made for palpable results to be obtained.

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