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CONAC Tells Biya Low Salaries Breed Corruption 

By Chris Mbunwe

The National Anti Corruption Commission (CONAC) has vowed to tell President Paul Biya that the very low salaries received by civil servants and others are the root cause of corruption in the country.

“One of the major recommendations we are going to take straight to the President is to let him know that low salaries are at the base of corruption so that he finds ways of solving this problem as a means of stemming corruption in our country. Re-instating salaries or increasing salaries might not be a panacea to curb corruption or eradicate this evil, but it will greatly reduce the practice,” declared Hon. Chief Norbert Mbile on behalf of the National President of CONAC, during a two-day workshop (May 12-13) in Bamenda to evaluate the action plan for 2013 and approve the 2014 plan of action to fight corruption in the Northwest.

Hon. Chief Mbile said, out of the six regions they have covered, so far, Northwest stands the first in the rating of fighting and implementing the previous plans to curb corruption, though with a low 40 percent score. Given the fact that the input in the Northwest has been “wonderfully rich in content” because of the calibre of stakeholders who attended the two-day evaluation meeting, Chief Mbile sounded optimistic: that corruption fight will succeed, “provided all of us unite as one man to ensure the beautiful plans for 2014 are implemented without fear or favour.

He told politicians, Regional Delegates, civil society organisations and traditional rulers at the MINPAT Hall, Up Station Bamenda to, on a day-to-day basis, execute the action plan and the results will meet with stiff resistance from top administrators, “just as we face in Yaounde and despite their imposing nature, we never give up.” 

Hon. Chief Mbile warned that nobody should use CONAC to settle personal scores and urged those involved in this fight against corruption to investigate thoroughly before blowing the whistle.

Participants expressed worries that CONAC can only go as far as barking because it cannot sanction criminals who are caught in corrupt practices. In response, Mbile assured them that the institution is preparing to table a bill in Parliament on Anti-Corruption Laws that give CONAC powers to bark and bite.

It was discovered during the evaluation that, in most public institutions, the tag; “here services are free” supposed to be pasted on the walls right at the entrance, is not what is obtained. In other offices it is pasted, but inside the office, corruption smells throughout from the boss to floor cleaner.

Representing Governor Lele L’Afrique, the General Inspector at the Northwest Governor’s office, Charles Ivo Makoge, promised to implement the 2014 plan of action rigorously. Some of the strategic actions on the anti-corruption plan for 2014 talk of massive sensitisation of the population on the negative effects of corruption, establishing and harmonising procedure manuals in each establishment and promote transparency, strengthening the instruments of regulating and self-regulation of media by establishing a list of offences and their authors and warning letters handed to them.

Still on media, CONAC advocates for withdrawing of press cards from journalists guilty of serious professional breaches, as well as suspending the journalists from practising their job. The plan of action, equally urges civil society organisations and community leaders to advocate for the application of the provisions of Section 66 of the Constitution on the declaration of assets by those who hold top posts in Cameroon. It was also resolved that those companies that promote ethics should be awarded prizes and that as a deterrent to others, there should be publication of lists of corrupt officials in the media. 

In the same line of thought, poorly executed contracts are expected to be cancelled and re-launched, and project owners should publish names of those companies or contractors involved. These and many more recommendations and sanctions are contained in a 7-page annual anti-corruption plan of action for 2014 for the Northwest Region.

 

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