Members of Parliament, MPs, and the CONAC have called for the proper and efficient establishment of article 66 on the declaration of assets by introducing in the legislative corpus the idea of illegal and unjustified riches as a means to fight corruption in Cameroon as stipulated in the constitution.
This is one of the recommendations resulting from the plenary session on the progress of the fight against corruption in Cameron and the expectations of CONAC that took place at the Hemicycle of the National Assembly on Thursday April 8, in Yaounde.
“Effectively implement Article 66 of the Constitution on the declaration of assets. Introduce in the legislative corpus the concept of illicit and unjustified enrichment, which has the advantage of placing the burden of proof of ill-gotten gains on the accused and not on the prosecution,” MPS emphasised.
Also, there is need to strengthen the competencies and independence of the CONAC by, among other things, broadening its scope to include the private sector and the possibility of referring cases to the judicial authorities following findings. Thus, still at the Legislative and regulatory level, the finalisation of the draft text on the fight against corruption and its submission to Parliament is on the way.
Therefore, in view of the pervasiveness of corruption in the minds of Cameroonian citizens and its political, economic and social implications, deputies discussed on the issue of the fight against corruption and its obstacles to the implementation of the National Strategy to fight this major scourge that undermines the foundations of our society. So, after having followed the different interventions and the presentation of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, CONAC, they aim to establish independent and operational anti-corruption units within each administration.
Also, anti-corruption strategies and deploy deterrent mechanisms would be regularly evaluated, the establishment of an effective mechanism for the confiscation of ill-gotten gains and the recovery of illicit assets on a preventive and definitive basis will be efficient. Thus, there is need to establish incentives for the denunciation of cases of corruption and money laundering and adopt a mechanism for the protection of whistle blowers.
In this wise, establishing a real synergy of collaboration beyond the toll-free number between the services of the CONAC and the population in order to make the fight against corruption a citizen’s duty through sensitization, information and encouragement of all kinds will go a long way to fight the scourge.
“Introduce modules on corruption in the educational curricula starting from the primary cycle; identify the administrative nodes that favour corruption and simplify administrative procedures, even de materialise them, promote probity, ethics and deontology in the management of public affairs within administrations and the private sector; train and sensitise public officials and local elected representatives on the importance of the fight against corruption because of its negative impact on economic and social life and development,” were part of the adopted proposals.
In this light, strengthening anti-corruption prevention mechanism within administration through a reform of the missions of the anti-corruption units, organise regular information and awareness campaigns on the fight against corruption at the local, regional and national levels; revitalise Operation sparrow hawk and not limit it to cases of large-scale embezzlement, but to all cases, and give it more media coverage in order to raise awareness among all citizens will equally boost the fight against corruption in Cameroon.
Likewise, setting a ceiling for cash payments for all financial transactions in both the public and private sectors, as cash handling favours corruption and its untraceability, developing a mapping of potential corruption risks in all sectors and put in place monitoring and alert mechanisms to fight the ravaging corruption in the country.
An increase in the number of rapid-results initiatives in the fight against corruption within public and private institutions, introducing performance incentives in public administrations and decentralising the services of the CONAC to the regions will in one way or the other improve the fight.
Therefore, at the administrative level, there will be need to draw up a list of acts of corruption giving rise to administrative sanctions at the career level, without prejudice to disciplinary sanctions and legal proceedings, thus adopting a regulatory text to this effect will be paramount to speed up the combat.
CONAC Chairperson went further to highlight some of the progress recorded over the years in the fight against corruption in Cameron. “Actions through the Voie d’Intervention Rapide (AIR) (Rapid Intervention Channel) to establish and punish flagrant corruption offences upon denunciation by the victim population or third parties. Sectoral anti-corruption campaigns conducted during the harvest and marketing of cocoa, coffee, cotton, forests, etc. Anti-corruption caravans, aimed at raising awareness of the population in the fight against corruption. Hence the thematic caravans aimed at young people, women, public officials, the finance sector, politicians during elections, actors in the transport sector, etc.”
Still in line with CONAC’s progress in the battle, Dieudonné Massi Gams added that, the operations contest without corruption, for justice, transparency and equity in official contests and examinations such as the entrance exams at the National Polytechnic School and the National School of Public Work, while the one relating to the entrance to ENAM is still under discussion. The production of communication media in the audiovisual and written press, namely: the ESPACE CONAC radio and TV programmes as well as the CONAC’s newsletter.
Stating some difficulties faced, Rev. Dieudonné Massi Gals said, “the Transparency International Index, which is always unfavourable for Cameroon over the years, favours the application of Article 66 of the Constitution and the adoption of an anti-corruption law. Furthermore, for two or three years, from 2019 to 2021, the Transparency International Index shows that Cameroon is stagnating, a sign that tends to prove that the Cameroonian population is becoming more aware of the fight against corruption.” It is worth noting that, Cameroon was ranked 153 on a total of 180 countries in 2019 while in 2020, she was ranked 143, meaning Cameroonians are beginning to gain consciousness with respect to the fight against corruption.
The CONAC expects that its power be strengthened and independence assured so as to optimally accomplish its missions. So, adopting an Anti-Corruption Law that will take into consideration the protection mechanism for whistleblowers, deconcentration of institution by bringing it closer to ultimate beneficiaries, the application of Article 66 of the 1996 Constitution and the endowment of CONAC with a secure headquarters and the granting of the status of Specialised Judicial Police Officers to the executives of CONAC will increase the commission’s outcome.