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« Buea DO Releases SDF Militants After Pressure | Main | The Post Front Page-Friday, June 29, 2007. »

Thursday, 28 June 2007


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Y. Maurice Martin

I just hope that Ondongndomg's trial is just a good beginning that will follow till the end. Let all the embezzlers be track down, jude and recovering the stollen money and property

Abesong John

One Ondo Ndong is not enough to justify the fight against corruption. We need a bias free fight against corruption. Let Biya not target a selected few may be because of their insignificance in CPDM or because they are less productive to him. 11 billion? While is Cameroon borrowing money for? To feed the embezzlers anyways.

Glenn Wilson

What punishment for Ondo Ndong - A Vice Presidency?


This is bullshit just before the elections. It was initially 52billion then 11B what happened to the rest????? Any forensic accountants out there to give us the exact figure please? He will be sentenced for the duration of the rigged elections and sent somewhere overseas to launder the big loot knowing the big king pin may be on his way out. Apply more pressure fellow Cameroonians.


Greetings to my Manyu brothers and sisters,

I am writing to you from Douala where I have spent the greater part of the last three years.

As you all prepare the MECA and NOMA conventions, I wanted to provide a little insight on what life is like here. As often as I can, I read the mail from the various net groups. I think that sometimes, some of you lose perspective of what MECA or NOMA are all about. All of the bickering, insults on futile things distract us from what ought to be our common goal: the advancement of Manyu. There is very little on projects and a whole lot on personality conflicts. I would have hoped that by now, with all the experience we have with each other, we would understand that defending ourselves from personal attacks, no matter how vicious and unfair, continues to perpetuate the infighting. We will never advance as long as the infighting continues. We need to learn to turn the other cheek and keep the focus on what is important: better lives for the people of Manyu.

Unfortunately, Manyu problems cannot be solved without taking the whole context of Cameroon into consideration. So what is it really like here? In short, it is nothing like what any of you left behind. Cameroon and Cameroonians, have changed; and mostly, for the worse.

Cameroon is extremely expensive. Douala is the most expensive city in Africa and for what? Our offices are on the main boulevard of the business district and for the last two months, we tread in mud from construction started and abandoned. Our office has no more running water in the day time because SNEC cannot provide sufficient power but our water bills have increased from when we had running water. Our electric bills hover between 500k and 650k a month ($1,000 to $1300), and we have power outages that sometimes last 2 days. Instead of investing in staff, therefore reducing unemployment and poverty, we are forced to spend $10,000 on a backup generator and buy fuel to continue working. We have lost thousands of dollars on equipment that gets destroyed by power surges. A surge protector here lasts just a few months before it has to be replaced. One power surge caused a serious electrical fire, that had we not had fire extinguishers, could have destroyed the entire building.

A decent internet connection (256k to 512k) costs about $2,000 a month or more. Imagine how many more people we could hire with that? The rent for a two bedroom apartment in downtown Douala is between 500k and 850k a month ($1,000 t $1700 a month). This is before electricity, water, etc. And the apartment comes completely bare: no cabinets, no fridge or stove, no air conditioners, nothing. Then you must pay a deposit of 3 months and 6 months to a year’s rent in advance. Fuel here costs almost 600F a liter. That converts to about $3 a gallon.

So how do people manage? They steal. Plain and simple. Call it corruption, call it “commissions,” call it whatever you like, it is organized kleptocracy that does not tolerate anyone not adhering to that method. Not just in government but in the private sector. Remember your best friend in high school? He is now the IT director of a multi-national. You send a proposal and you know you have the best price for the best solution. Well, plan on increasing your invoice by 10-50% for his “commission.” They call it “surfacturation” or overbilling. It is normal business practice. If you don’t comply, be prepared to stay without a contract.

Let’s say you even get a contract. Trying to get paid is an exercise in futility. Now you understand why landlords want payment in advance and why banks don’t lend money. If a company or individual does not want to pay, there is little or nothing you can do to collect. If you are courageous, you can take them to court and subject yourself to a judicial system that thinks the law is something that is only on paper. There is total impunity. A judge can completely disregard the law and there is no consequence. In fact, he will probably get promoted. If your case is crystal clear, includes no subjectivity, and is being monitored by the US Embassy or other “powers” you might even get a judgment in your favor. But try to enforce it. A judgment is as good as a piece of toilet tissue with the main difference that it costs you years of procedures and legal fees. Let us not forget that once you have your judgment and before you can try to execute on it, you need to pay a 5% registration tax on it. On money you are likely never to collect on..

Then you have the tax authorities. We have had our offices sealed for being late 1 day for 6,000 CFA ($12). A half dozen tax agents invaded our office manu militari, locked people in the office and sealed the outside, This is when they even had a motive. Our office was sealed so many times that we have lost count. No reason, no paper, nothing. You want to have it opened? Go and negotiate… Then there is another common practice. They send you bills for incredibly high amounts. We got one for 983 million CFA which covered a period during which we were under seal (we don’t negotiate, we just wait for them to get tired and unseal the office on our own so we have had sometimes periods of several months when we remained closed). So for this period, they want 983 million in taxes (almost $2 million). Sounds crazy but it is a tactic; to contest an invoice from tax authorities, you must pay a deposit of 10%. So the tax guys then came and offered to let us off with 30 million ($60,000), much less than the 10% we would have to pay to contest the bill! We refused. We were sealed. Eventually, they re-opened and abandoned the claim. The harassment is continuous. Just this past week we received a letter stating that we would be audited for the same period and the exact same transactions for which we have already been audited 3 times, paid moneys due, penalties, and so forth. They will probably seal us again soon J.

Fortunately, we don’t deal with customs much. But IT equipment and software are subject to 56% in customs tax and duties. In 2002, they briefly removed duties on some equipment but after 2 months, the duties were back on. Our other experience with customs is as a client. It is a very long story but to summarize: We delivered software as a matter of national emergency to Customs on the basis of a letter signed by the minister in charge of the project which stated that we would be paid in full the following week. That was in December 2006. It is not enough that we have not been paid. They actually launched a bid process, made us buy the bidding document, submit a proposal which is still being evaluated by a commission of 7 people all of whom are waiting to be “motivated” into awarding us a contract for software which the government has been using for 6 months. Then, if we are awarded the contract, we have to register it at 2% of the contract amount and then submit the invoice for payment.

I wish I could balance some of this with positive things to say about Cameroon . In all sincerity, there is not much. The food is good (although expensive). That’s it. Why am I still here you might ask? The answer is two-pronged: First, I did not have much choice. We lost $4 million on a project that I had to collect on and my presence was required (I was only partially successful in collecting) but more generally, this country belongs to all of us, not just to the thieves who are currently running the place (I am talking about private sector too not just government). There are a few people, in and out of government who really want things to change. They need support. If those of us who are privileged enough to say no to the corruption do not participate in the process, then who will do it? One cannot ask of someone who needs to feed his family to risk jail because he refused to give bribe to a policeman on the street.

So the next time you want to respond to an email where someone insulted you, stop and think; you are sacrificing your ego and not your life or welfare. Perhaps your keyboard could be used to do something more meaningful, like finding ways to support Manyu entrepreneurs who are unable to prosper because of the business climate, the lack of infrastructure, roads, etc. Perhaps you could suggest ways to better educate the Manyu child who is growing up in a Sodom and Gomorrah and has no point of reference to know better than to cheat, lie, beg or steal as a way to get through. Perhaps you could organize yourselves as a powerful lobby by officially contacting and meeting with authorities of US and international organizations to push an agenda which they can they push to the Cameroon government (I think we all agree that pushing an agenda to the Cameroon government directly is an exercise in futility).

I will be in the US soon (for security reasons I will not be specific as to exactly when) and hope to meet some of you while I am there. There is much more that I cannot say in an email but will not be afraid to say face to face.

I look forward to seeing positive, productive exchanges on Manyunet and NOMA-Manyu in preparation for upcoming elections. Let us set the example for Cameroonian politicians who are also entering an important election period.

Warm regards from your sister,


Thanks to our effective judicial system.If an individual can embezzle such an amount of money then what is going to be the fate of our beloved country if say five of these kind of people embezzle such amount of money each? Once more bravo to the courageous judge who gave this verdict and we wish other judges should emulate this example.



What do you mean by our effective judicial system? How i wish we had ever seen anything effective from La Republique. Feed your brain with what happened and has been hapenning in your judiciary at:

Cheers and have a lovely day.

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