Conquering Corruption: More Than Denunciation!

    
Cameroonians have once again been served with yet another report of how the devastating corruption cankerworm fared in the country in 2022. It is stated that in 2022, CONAC received and handled 7,061 reports (compared to 6,705 in 2021, representing an increase of 356 in absolute terms and 5.3% in relative terms). These included 2,603 calls on the toll-free number (1517), 3,472 written complaints, 565 e-mails and 401 WhatsApp messages.
The report indicates that financial losses incurred by the State stood at FCFA 4.6 billion as against FCFA 43.9 billion in 2021. These financial losses incurred by the State of Cameroon have been assessed on the basis of the investigations conducted by CONAC and the pecuniary sentences imposed by the Budget and Financial Disciplinary Board and the Special Criminal Court. Going by the anti-graft watchdog, a review of anti-corruption activities carried out so far shows that 2022 was a year of “fresh impetus.” The institution logically beats its chest for intensified conventional activities to investigate and prevent acts of corruption, coupled with what it termed a number of innovative initiatives that have enhanced the fight against corruption. The “Anti-Corruption Clinic,” which enabled CONAC to move its operational services from Yaounde to Douala as part of the 2022 International Anti-Corruption Week has been singled out for praise. Logical as CONAC functions within the scope of its missions. 
If the statistics contained in the Cameroon's 2022 Anti-Corruption Status Report, the 12th publication by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (CONAC), were the only scale to measure the level of corruption, one would be tempted to say that the scourge is regressing. Clearly, it is very far from that! Many are certainly not oblivious of the fact that in the country, corruption is constantly manifested in the form of embezzlement of public funds, bribery, influence peddling and fraud. In fact, the abuse of entrusted power for private gain is wide and varied. Reported or denounced cases contained in the published report are visibly just a tiny fraction or a rather complex germ that has eaten deep into the national fabric with extensive nefarious effects that go far beyond the financial losses incurred by the State yearly.
Just imagine a development project that is either abandoned or poorly executed because a contract was awarded to an unqualified contractor against a reward for the contracting authority or the contracting firm is left with insufficient funds after ‘oiling lips’ to be given the contract. A State worker, corporation or contractor who is obliged to surrender sometimes up to 40 per cent of his bill to be paid by a finance official who has a salary and allowances due his job. A family that remains poor because their son or daughter who could have brought them to the limelight is sacrificed on the altar of influence peddling or bribe in a recruitment exam to a prestigious field. Or goods served struggling population at cut-throat prices because transporters ‘settled’ sometimes uncountable controls along the transport corridors. 
Examples are numerous and multifaceted and manifest differently in diverse sectors. To say the least, corruption erodes trust, weakens democracy, hampers economic development and further exacerbates inequality, poverty, social division and the environmental crisis. It wastes taxes and scarce resources meant for important community projects. This results in poor quality services or infrastructure or even projects never getting off the ground. Even more, people especially the poor get hurt when resources are wasted. Cameroonians from all walks of life in different sectors can narrate their ordeals differently depending on their experiences.
Cameroon might boast of diverse structures meant to fight against corruption but daily experiences show that something more than the simple denunciations known of the different bodies thus far absolutely needs to be done to root out the destroyer from the national system. Specialised institutions notably the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Supreme State Audit Office, the Special Criminal Court, the National Agency for Financial Investigation and the newly-created Coordination Committee on National Policies Against Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction have been put in place to fight against corruption and related acts. There is no gainsaying that by virtue of their scope of work defined by the creation decrees, these structures cannot go beyond reproofs. Barking without biting, so to say!
There is therefore need for innovation in the fight against corruption. The country must take an extra step and unite all that is needed to clip the wings of the killer. The ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’ approaches are imperative and the latter must be brought i...

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