THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN CAMEROON: AN EVALUATION OF THE NATIONAL ANTI CORRUPTION COMMITTEE (CONAC)
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The classification of Cameroon as the most corrupt country in the world in 1998 and 1999 made the government more willing than ever to fight corruption in Cameroon. This led to the creation of a commission, The National Anti-Corruption Committee, (CONAC) with its main aim to fight this ill.
Corruption is a cankerworm that does not affect only Cameroon but the rest of the world. CONAC has contributed so much in the fight against corruption in Cameroon by prevention, implantation of Rapid Result Initiatives (RRIs), recovery of funds, and this omission equally face difficulties of lack of finance, an inadequate number of staff, false information about the commission and fake CONAC agents.
Measures have been put in place to improve the performance of this commission i.e. the creation of an institution responsible for the management of seized or confiscated resources, creation and/or revitalization of anti-corruption units in all the ministerial departments, the creation of Rapid Intervention Units in Regions, in the absence of CONAC Regional Antennas, the intensification of the fight against corruption in the private sector through the adoption of Codes of Ethics, the adoption of an anti-corruption law coupled with the practical modalities of its implementation is highly desired to strengthen the anti-corruption drive and to protect whistleblowers.
However, these measures have not been strongly implemented and if they are not looked into corruption will still remain high in Cameroon. The following recommendations will help the CONAC in the fight against corruption in Cameroon. They are; the creation of institutions responsible for the management of seized resources, creation of Rapid Intervention Units in Regions, CONAC should be given greater financial and administrative autonomy to wage an effective war against corruption in Cameroon.
- Partial Introduction
Corruption originates from the Latin word–corrumpere, which means ‘bribe, 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 (a definition used by the World Bank) 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.
1.2 Background to the study
The ill of corruption can be traced far back during the period of our first parents, Adam when we started organizing ourselves into communities. Corruption is a canker worm that has invaded the world at large. And it’s also an old-aged phenomenon that is plaguing the world today. Around the world, citizens are crying out against corruption. As demonstrated recently in northern Africa, the Middle East and India, corruption ferment distrust, anger and instability (Robert Klitgaard). New leaders in the Czech Republic and Mauricio funes in El Salvador have prioritized the fight against corruption. For instance the president of Benigno of the Philippines was elected with the campaign slogan “if there is no corruption, there will be no poverty”.
No country in the world is immune from corruption as cited above. Corruption like prostitution survives monarchy, dictatorship, democracy or any form of government. Even in the most perfect countries with very good scores in the corruption perfection index, you can find corruption. Why? Because it is part of human nature. We are all greedy to a lesser or greater extend, jealous and prone to temptations. As they say “even a saint will still if he gets the chance” (Ajit Joy). Therefore the existence of the UNCAC (The United Nations Convention against Corruption) with over 140 parties to it, is a global agreement among countries to fight corruption, prevention, law enforcement, international cooperation and asset recovery are the main pillars of the UNCAC. It makes it mandatory for countries to criminalize corruption offenses like bribery, misappropriation, embezzlement and money laundering. There is also the fight against “re-corruption”. Even where corruption has been successfully reduced, there are also cases of re-corruption (Dininio: 2005).
In Africa corruption has been identified as a serious drawback to their quest for independence. Corruption has been labeled in Africa “as the AIDS of democracy, which is destroying the future of many African societies. The corruption problem in Africa reflects the more general and now legendary, climate, of unethical leadership and bad governance found throughout most of the continent. (Stefan Ittner). Also the experience of many African countries has shown that, creating anti-corruption laws and agencies is only a first step in the fight against this grievance and thus in no way guaranteed to have an impact on the levels of corruption.
The classis faction of Cameroon as the most corrupt nation in the world in 1998 and 1999 made the government more willing than ever to fight the ill. The slogan “corruption kills the nation” was adopted by the government in the fight against corruption C Transparency International). Corruption has plagued the Cameroonian society notably in the health, educational, financial, and military and in the law and order department. Corruption is manifested in several forms including bribery, nepotism, fraud, speed money, embezzlement, falsification of records and influence peddling (Egbeyong, 2018). The National News Paper “Cameron Tribune” had a column devote every day to corruption.
In as much as the primary phase of the fight against corruption in the early 1990s had its weaknesses, a number of achievements were recorded. This included the arrest and sentencing of certain high profile embezzlers such as Professor Titus Edzoa (former S.G =of the presidency) and Michel Thierry Afangana by the Mfoundi High court. His advent of the 21stC brought about changes in the fight against corruption which was until then, predominantly handled by local courts. Several institutions were created in 2000 following pressure mounted on the Cameroonian government by the US state department, the Brocton woods institutions. And Transparency International. The very first was the Anti-Corruption observatory created in 2000. This was later replaced by (NACC) National Anti-Corruption Commission known by the French acronym (CONAC) IN 2006. CONAC since its creation has led the fight against corruption in Cameroon mainly via investigation of corruption officials and transmission of the reports of the presidency to visa the prosecution of the criminals. Aside CONAC, is the Supreme Court, state audit is also a leading body. In 2011 a special criminal court was created to prosecute state officials who misappropriated funds valued equal to above 50millionFCFA ( Egbeyong, 2018).
The present study therefore, seeks an evaluation of CONAC, that is, the measures it shall take to combat corruption in the country, how far these measures have been of success and the difficulties they encounter through their efforts of fighting corruption in Cameroon.
1.3 Statement of the problem.
The rate of corruption still remains alarming despite the efforts being put by CONAC in the fight against corruption in Cameroonian society. This has brought a drawback to Cameroons quest for emergence in 2035. Despites these efforts, international diagnostic surveys show that corruption in Cameroon is widespread affecting a variety of sectors. Cameroon ranks 130 out of 168 Countries on the 2015 corruption perception index, with the score of 27, below the global and slightly below the sub-Saharan African average score of 33 ( Transparency International,2016)
The Ibrahim Index of African governance tells a similar story with the indicator on accountability, giving Cameroon a score of 31.2/100, slightly below the African average for the same indicator ( Mo Ibrahim Foundation, 2015). Also the world governance indicator especially on control of corruption, place Cameroon (in the lowest 25% or lower) for the remaining indicator. (Kaufmann and Kray, 2015). Therefore the issue of corruption has not been carefully taken care of by the government and if this problem is not taken with good measures, Cameroon will continue to suffer from this chronic underdevelopment in the country due to numerous corrupt practices of public and private: All this eventually affects all sectors of public life in the Cameroonian society thereby still giving her the name one of the most corrupt.
- Aim and objectives
The aim of this study is evaluating the contributions of CONAC in the fight against corruption in Cameroon.
1.4.2 General objectives
- The contributions of CONAC in the fight against corruption in Cameroon
- The difficulties faced by CONAC in the fight against corruption in Cameroon
- The various measures that can be put in place to improve the performance of CONAC
1.5 Research Questions
- What are the contributions of CONAC in the fight against corruption in Cameroon
- What difficulties does CONAC face in the fight against corruption in Cameroon
- What are the various measures that can be put in to improve the performance of CONAC
1.6 Research propositions
This study will be guided by the following Propositions.
- CONAC has significantly contributed in the fight against corruption in Cameroon
- Measures have been taken to improve the fight against corruption in Cameroon.
- Scope of the study
The period chosen for this study is from 1998 to 1999. This is because Cameroon has twice top the chart as the most corrupt in the world and since it is the 152 least corrupt nations out of 175 countries, according to the 2018 corruption perception index reported by Transparency International. Corruption rank in Cameron averaged 123.95 from 1996 till 2018, reaching on all time high of 153 in 2017 and a record low of 49 in 1996. Although Cameroon corruption rank-actual data, historical chart and calendar of releases- was last on July of 2019. This period was chosen because there has been an outcry by the citizens as regard the high level of corrupt activities that has been plaguing the nation. This study covers the whole of Cameroon. Because of this widespread of corruption, international donor agencies pushed the reluctant Cameroonian government authorities to react. The Anti-Corruption Commission CONAC has been contributing to this. Also, this commission set to fight this ill has been facing a lot of difficulties in the fight against corruption in Cameroon. However, this commission has also taken measures to improve in the fight against corruption in Cameroon.
1.8 Significance and Justification
1.8.1 Significance of the study
- To CONAC, in the sense that it will give this Anti-Corruption Commission a glimpse or an overview on how to assess their efforts towards the fight against corruption in Cameroon.
- To the government, in that, it will help the government to be of the day to day issues of corruption in Cameroon which they have been trying to combat and how they can improve in measures they take.
- It will help to improve the performance of Transparency International and the Ibrahim Mo foundation movement be setting their classification based on the most corrupt and how to come out with their corruption perception index.
1.8.2 Justification of the study
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. But the successes of his commission have to be achieved through appreciation and criticisms of the efforts of this commission. It has been observed that the National Anti-Corruption Commission has contributed a lot in the efforts to fight corruption in Cameroon.
Nonetheless, the role played by the different institutions involved remains ambiguous to many, while their effectiveness is often heavily scrutinized. This study will help educate the staff and Cameroonian society of this institution by the intensification of the fight against corruption in the private sector through the adoption of Codes of Ethics and the adoption of an anti-corruption law coupled with the practical modalities of its implementation which will be highly desired to strengthen the anti-corruption drive and to protect whistleblowers.