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Debate: Governance Questioned!

Panel members gave divergent views on cabinet insubordination during the “POLICAM” radio debate programme over Radio Siantou on May 23, 2015.

Listeners to the weekly debate programme “POLICAM” aired in Yaounde on Saturdays from 10 am to noon over RTS Radio (FM 90.5) had a field day on May 23, 2015 as panel members debated recurrent acts of insubordination by cabinet ministers. The programme kicked off with an editorial from Station Manager, Jean de Dieu Ayissi, who saw the recent cover headline, “Who Governs Cameroon?” by the publication “Jeune Afrique” as yet another attempt to smear and destabilise Cameroon.

POLICAM’s anchor and moderator, Eric Boniface Tchouakeu, then had the task of manoeuvring his panel members such as Jean François Mebenga (Communication Unit, CPDM Party), Prof. Edmond Biloa (Lecturer, University of Yaounde I, CPDM member), Parfait Aloys Mbvoum (Social Democratic Front party), (Hilaire Kamga (Spokesman “Orange” network for peaceful political alternance) and Romain Roland Kouotou (Leader of the President of Republican Forum party).

Regrettable Acts of Insubordination

Debate first dwelled on the May 22, 2015 decision by the Prime Minister annulling the Culture Minister’s decision to award a licence to the new Authors’ Rights management body, SOCACIM, and making it an obligation for such awards to henceforth be subject to approval by the Prime Minister. Hilaire Kamga saw Minister Ama Tutu Muna’s insubordination observed since 2008 as a double - familial and governmental - theatrical conflict.

“When we observe what is happening, we notice that there is a deficiency in ethics, a misunderstanding of prerogatives and regulatory texts by the ministers and the Prime Minister,” said Jean François Mebenga, adding that the Prime Minister’s Friday decision was a form of forfeiture for the Culture Minister whose power to grant licences has been withdrawn.

The panel members all agreed that the cases of insubordination have become regrettably recurrent because besides Minister Ama Tutu Muna, others suck as the Ministers in charge of Agriculture and of Public Works had been observed.

Should Government Resign?

Parfait Aloys Mbvoum agreed with the cover story interrogation by Jeune Afrique, saying that the government was not managed and had no direction. He was of the opinion that the Prime Minister should resign, given the problems that are gaining intensity. “It is the absence of governance that produces such results,” he said. Prof. Edmond Biloa instead thought that insubordinate ministers should resign. “According to general principles, the Prime Minister must be respected. A minister cannot show disrespect for government and stay in office. Ama Tutu Muna should resign,” he stated.

Hilaire Kamga questioned why recent cabinet meetings did not tackle the embarrassments posed by Minister Ama Tutu Muna, starting with the violation of a Supreme Court judgment. To him, artistes had shown their incapacity to manage authors’ rights hence government should now manage it. However, he found justifiable the Agriculture Minister’s insubordination saying delays by the Prime Minister’s office to approve appointments was having grave impacts on the Ministry’s functioning. “You cannot paralyse a whole ministry like that,” he stated.

To Romain Roland Kouotou, the release of Minister Bapes Bapes after his detention was surprising. “When you are physically, morally and intellectually incapable of carrying out functions, you must resign,” he said. Prof. Edmond Biloa interjected that Minister Bapes Bapes’ release was a decision by the judiciary, adding that as long as Bapes Bapes is innocent he only has to wait for a cabinet reshuffle. “If Bapes Bapes is innocent, why has he refunded FCFA 30 million to justice,” questioned the message of a listener, Jean Takougang, SDF’s Shadow Education Minister sent to the programme. Parfait Aloys Mbvoum said a fundamental change of the system was needed because not only in the culture domain but also agriculture, education, and other sectors that were all affected. “The President must put an end to all these and form a new government,” stated Romain Roland Kouotou.

Grave Impacts

Romain Roland Kuotou exposed the real moral dangers of government incoherence. Referring to the Bapes Bapes case, he said children need to be taught good morals. “Good morals start with political morals,” he said, questioning why a May 20 medal could be given to an artiste in Douala who had carried out acts of indecency while performing in public. On his part, Hilaire Kamga said the Republic was in danger.

“Or is it the Prime Minister who has to be saved,” he quizzed, explaining his surprise at how a decision increasing fuel prices could be made public through a press release by the Secretary General of the Prime Minister’s Office without the backing of a decision and why an appointment decision could carry the names of dead persons. “The accumulation of these acts of incompetence and incongruity could have grave effects,” he cautioned.

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