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Fight Against Corruption: CONAC, Audit Bench Drowning In Financial Crisis 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

Financial difficulties constitute the bane of some of the organs that shoulder the responsibility to fight corruption in Cameroon.

Such difficulties that accrue from administrative bottlenecks are interpreted by observers as Government’s weak political will to fight corruption that is an impediment to the country’s development.
For instance, the National Anti-Corruption Commission, CONAC, has been a victim of financial asphyxia since its creation in 2006.

The Post learnt that the State subvention that the outfit relies on to carry out its activities usually comes in late, at the noon of the financial year. Administrative bottlenecks and inertia in the Ministry of Finance, sources told The Post, are behind the undue delay in the disbursement of the subvention to the anti-corruption organ.

Even when CONAC’s annual budget of circa FCFA 2.5 billion is disbursed late, the authorities expect the outfit to carry on its activities in the field and exhaust the budget before the end of the year. A source at the organisation told The Post that the outfit has difficulties paying its bills on time due to such lapses.

The Audit Bench of the Supreme Court has not been spared by the financial crisis. Part of the report of the Bench that was published in Yaounde on July 18 is a wailing obituary as to how the budget of the organ has been slashed by more than half.

The budget of the organ that stood at more than FCFA one billion in 2010 was reduced to FCFA 514 million since 2014. Besides, the smooth functioning of the outfit is also marred by lack of service vehicles.

Most of the service cars there, it was indicated, badly need repairs. Such a precarious situation, observers hold, has hampered the functioning of the organisation in no small way. The Supreme State Audit is also grappling with financial and other problems that perturb its smooth functioning.

Besides financial difficulties, the non-application of certain laws have given critics reasons to conclude that Government lacks the political will to truly fight corruption. Drawing inspiration from the Change Habits, Oppose Corruption, CHOC, Project, initiated by CONAC, an anti-corruption bill was proposed to the Government in 2011.

The proposal has continued to rot in the drawers of the officials.
Some of the officials, who were targeted for prosecution on account of the embezzlement of public funds in the 2011 CONAC report, are still moving around freely in all impunity.

For one thing, CONAC has never failed to recommend the application of Article 66 of the Constitution that borders on declaration of assets by State officials and other vote holders.

The famous Article 66 (1) reads as follows, “The President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, Members of Government and other persons ranking as such, the President and members of the Bureau of the National Assembly, the President and Bureau members of the Senate, MPs and other elected officials… must declare their assets before and after holding office.”

Many critics have directed their accusing fingers at President Biya for stalling the application of the law. Going by the law, the President of the Republic has to issue a decree that creates, organises and prescribes the functioning of the Assets Declaration Commission. It is within this premise that observers are urging President Biya, who has declared war against corruption, to ensure the application of Article 66 and show the good example by declaring his assets.

The undue delay in the application of the law, has given critics the moral authority to claim that the Government is only paying lip service to the fight against corruption.

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