Molyko, Southwest Region - Buea, Cameroon


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1.1 Background to the Study

‘Corruption’ originates from the Latin word corrumpere, which means ‘bribe, mar or destroy’. Much evidence suggests that it has been around the world from time immemorial, and, in recent times, it has occupied a front seat in global discussions. In spite of its presence everywhere, there exists no universally accepted definition of corruption, and this constitutes one of the principal difficulties in studying the phenomenon. While corruption is mostly described as the abuse of public power for private gain (World Bank, 2012), moralists describe corruption as “an immoral and unethical phenomenon that contains a set of moral aberrations from moral standards of society, causing loss of respect for and confidence in duly constituted authority”. Despite the differences in the definition of corruption from the public-centred to the market-centred perspectives, and from the revisionist to moralist perceptions, there is however unanimity in the condemnation of corruption which is a global predicament that hinders economic growth, threatens the integrity of markets, undermines fair competition, distorts resource allocation, destroys public trust, and cripples the rule of law (Crouch, 2012 and Tanzi, 1998 and Robin, 1990)

The advent of the 21st century brought about changes in the fight against corruption which was until then, predominantly handled by local courts. Several institutions were created to combat this crime in Cameroon. The very first of these was the National Anti-Corruption Observatory created in 2000 following pressure mounted on the Cameroonian government by the US State Department, the Bretton Woods Institutions and Transparency International. Lack of financial and structural autonomy marred the functioning of this institution, thereby leading to its replacement with the National Anti- Corruption Commission (NACC, known by its French acronym CONAC) in 2006. Since its creation, CONAC has led the fight against corruption mainly via investigation of corrupt officials and transmission of the reports to the Presidency to visa the prosecution of the criminals (Forsberg, 2013).

Corruption is a ‘virus’ that poses a threat to global socioeconomic and political advancement, thus a universal antidote would be most suitable to counteract its propagation. In this light, numerous international symposiums and conventions have focused on the eradication of corruption across the world through the creation of institutions and the utilisation of diverse instruments ranging from the enactment of domestic and international laws, to the endorsement of global cooperation in tracking and sanctioning perpetrators of corrupt practices (Forsberg, 2013).

American States Inter-American Convention Against Corruption; the 1997 Convention on the Fight against Corruption involving Officials of the European Communities or Officials of Member States of the European Union (This Convention was adopted by the Council of the European Union); the 1997 Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions; the 2003 African Union convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption; the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC); Leader’s declarations at G20 summits (Pittsburgh 2009, Toronto 2010, Seoul 2010, Cannes 2011, Los Cabos 2012, and St. Petersburg 2013) and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which has as mission, to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.

Corruption is a canker worm that has invaded the Cameroonian society. It cuts across all sectors in Cameroon, be they the Public or Private sector and, not even the church is free of corruption. It is an age-old phenomenon that has plagued the Cameroonian society notably in the Health, Educational, Judicial, Financial, Military, and in the Law and Order departments. Cameroon has twice topped the chart of the most corrupt states in the world-1998 and 1999 as per Transparency International indices. Corruption is manifested in several forms including; bribery, nepotism, graft, fraud, speed money, theft, pilferage, embezzlement, falsification of records and influence peddling GERDDES-Cameroon (1999)

Aside CONAC, the office of Supreme State Audit is also a leading body in the fight against corruption in Cameroon today. In 2011, a Special Criminal Court was created to prosecute State officials who misappropriated funds valued equal to or above fifty million francs CFA. Since then, several top state officials including a former Prime Minister, Minister of State in charge of Territorial Administration and Decentralization, Minister of Finance and numerous General Managers of public enterprises and parastatals have been convicted by this court for em funds. These are clear indicators that the advent of the 21st century brought about a drastic change in the government’s fight against corruption in Cameroon. The “Operation Sparrow Hawk” was launched by the President of the Republic and placed under the coordination of the Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, and Keeper of the Seals, to track down and expose public servants who misappropriate state funds. These institutions were created to jointly and severally uproot corruption which hinders development as it accounts directly and indirectly for loss of revenue by the government. It is also important to highlight that the fight against corruption in Cameroon does not exist only in the public sector, but also in the private sector. The results of a survey carried out in 2008 showed that 49% of the 1052 companies interrogated affirmed to have bribed taxation officers. Another 76% of those companies agreed that corruption had negatively affected their businesses (Nguemegne, 2011 and Monde Afrique, 2015 and  Afrique, 2011)

1.2 Statement of Problem

The rampant corruption in Africa today is indeed an alien culture although not an unknown practice. It is very evident that, the underdevelopment and rampant corruption in Africa to-day is a direct consequence of centuries of exploitations by the western Europeans and some African kings. “Before even the western Europeans came into relations with our people, we were a developed people, having our own institutions, having our own ideals of government” (Ekra, 1913). It is very evident that before the 15th century, when the first European traders started trading with Africans, a great civilization was on the move. Dominant pre-colonial African civilizations were Ghana, Mali, Sudan, Nubia, Egypt, Great Zimbabwe, Carthage and Congo.

Corruption has become a common phenomenon in every society nowadays and the negative effect it has on the political and socio-economic structure of a country can be hardly over emphasized. There has been a global out cry and collective effort to tackle this social ill through the implementation of anti graft laws and policies across the world. As the fight against corruption continues, other nations have been successful in their quest to limit the level of corrupt practices while others are still lagging behind. According to 2010 CPI shows that nearly three quarters of the 178 countries in the index score below five on a scale from 0 to 10, indicating a serious corruption problem.

The case of Cameroon seems to be an example of a failed to government combating corruption. From the commoner in the street to the highest government official and political figure, corruption is recurrent in almost every transaction of daily life in the Cameroon society. The individual participate in corruption either actively or passively. Cameroon has written its name on the annals of corruption to the extent that today, the name Cameroon is synonymous to corruption as every aspect in our daily lives seems to be exploited for personal interest. Since Cameroon became an independent nation after the declaration of the UN in 1961, the country has made slide progress in economic development as compared to other countries that lack the enormous potentials in making a significant progress in economic development. Cameroon with natural resources of all sort, with rich volcanic and tropical climate for cash crops production and finally its rich touristic sites, are areas which are being exploited, yet our economic development had been in a sluggish response instead poverty is on the rise. Many have questioned the determination of this nation in combating corruption which apparently has good anti-corruption laws and institutions in place. It is from this light this thesis seeks to investigate the extent these corrupt practices has on Cameroon economic development and to what extent this anti-corruption policies in Cameroon are succeeding in fighting corruption.

Despite the country’s numerous natural resources, Cameroon economy had witnessed a period of stagnation in economic growth especially during the heavy economic crisis that stroked the country in the late 80s. This was partly blamed on corruption and mismanagement of the country’s vast resources. Corruption has tremendously affects the lives and provoked animosity amongst fellow Cameroonians. It has gone so deep into the inner core of Cameroon government. It has gone up to the level that private and public sector, government and non government organizations have essentially become a useful channel for people to acquire wealth. (Esq & Musttapha, 2008).

This dreadful practice has greatly contributed to the backwardness of Cameroon’s economic development. The fact that Cameroon government has not been able to implement the anti-corruption policies successful, it is a threat to her future economic development because there is no doubt that the canker of development threatens a country’s moral integrity and hampered its development (Esq & Musterpha, 2008). The fact that corruption is still a prevailing issue in Cameroon, the anti-corruption campaign by the government known as operation sparrow hawk to imprison all corrupt government officials which was launched recently. The biggest challenge for this country is not just to punish the perpetuators of corruption but educating its citizens on the dangers and measures to tackle corruption (Obayelu, 2007). The act of corruption is said to be the abuse of public power for private benefit.  The  act  often  consists  of  paying  bribes  to  public  officials  by  private beneficiaries  as  compensation  for  the  abuse.  However, not all acts of corruption result in the payment of bribes.  A powerful minister can locate a new investment project in his home town unsuitable for that particular activity or he could influence the sanctioning of big business loans to his cronies and friends and still not take any direct bribe.  A review of various forms of corruption, their causes and consequences can be found in Tanzi (1998), Rose Ackerman (1996) and Treisman (1999).  However, irrespective of the types or forms of corruption, it needs no argument that as the act involves subjective misuse of power, it is both bad and illegal.  In addition, the act distorts the purpose for which the discretionary power was given to the person who abuses it.  These distortions inflict considerable costs on the economy and the poverty level of a country. As a result this work will examine the cause of corruption, the manifestation of corruption and its impact on economic development in Cameroon. It will further examine ways through which corruption can be curbed in other to promote a substantial ground for bright economic future. In this study, we are also going to look at the case study and bring useful facts to put up a strong argument to expose the validity of corruption being the main cause for the underdeveloped nature of Cameroon. This will be backed by valuable empirical data. This research will further examine the various contributions from international organisations to foster genuine economic development in Cameroon.

1.3 Research Questions

Here we have the main research question and the specific research questions as shown below:

1.3.1 Main Research Question

Our main research question is to what extent does corruption influence civil service of Cameroon?

1.3.2 Specific Questions

Our specific questions include the following;

  • How corruption is been manifested in civil service in Cameroon? How has corruption affected economic development/poverty alleviation in Cameroon?
  • What are the measures to combat corruption in Cameroon in order to promote economic development?
  • To what extent have these measures been successful?

1.4 Research Objectives

Here we have two types of research objectives, the main research and the specific objectives as shown below respectively.

1.4.1 Main Research Objective

Our main research is, to examine the effect of corruption on civil service in cameroon.

1.4.2 Specific Research Objectives

Our specific research objectives include the following

  • To analyse how corruption is been manifested in civil service in Cameroon,
  • To examine how corruption has affected economic development/poverty alleviation in Cameroon,
  • To investigate the measures to combat corruption in Cameroon in order to promote economic development,
  • To analyse the extent to which these measures been successful.


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