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Defunct COFINEST Customers Plan Protests 

By Divine Ntaryike Jr
— Yet-to-be refunded clients of the frozen microfinance institution, COFINEST [Compagnie Financier de l’Estuaire] are folding sleeves to pour out into the streets in fresh protests in the days ahead. 

Since February 27, a fistful of the grumbling former customers have been staging mild and pacific demonstrations in front of the collapsed institution’s head office in Douala.  They have been wielding placards, brandishing their savings booklets and demanding that justice be done them to no avail. 

“Faced with the apparent nonchalance of the authorities, we can only expand and energize our demonstrations in the hope that our voices can be heard,” Theodore T, one of the ill-fated clients and masterminds of the planned demonstrations told at the weekend. 

He added that the increasingly vexed clients of the defunct COFINEST, numbering over 45,000 will take to the streets simultaneously in Douala, Bafoussam and the national capital Yaoundé.  “I cannot tell you exactly when because we’re still fine-tuning our plans, and besides if I did tell you the authorities will begin intimidating us,” he explained.

COFINEST abruptly crumbled one year ago and within months after its managers were kicked out and a provisionary administrator dispatched there by then Finance Minister Essimi Menye.  He accused the essentially Bamileke shareholders and managers of steering the structure towards collapse via obscure management and shady financial transactions.

After a first wave of protests following the shutdown of the institution, former clients with savings in the range of 0-100,000 FCFA have been reimbursed, amid complaints of significant deductions.  The rest, with evaporated reserves above one hundred thousand francs have been waiting – and so far in vain.

Among them, many say they have been forced out of business.  Others claim their children have been sent away from school ever since, while others say their spouses have ditched them.  Generally, the grumbling former clients say when they engage the planned demonstrations in the days ahead, they will not stop until they recover their money.

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