Cameroonian public opinion has been stuffed lately with a new political leitmotif: living together. It is imposed by the state and government media as the formula for salvation in the theological sense of the term, and on a praxisological level as both the unique problem and the solution to the problem of Cameroon. The polysemic use of this term is a political maneuver whose aim is to distract the Cameroonian people from the nagging issues that implacably account for the failure of the Government’s public policies. I even met on social networks one of these TV set debaters who claimed that “the opposition manipulates living together…” And here is the answer I gave him.
It is not the opposition that is manipulating the so-called problem of live together. It is the Government which promotes this fictitious and factitious concept so that the real problem which is the living badly Cameroonians.
The live together understood as a problem in Cameroon is a fiction that is contradicted by reality and daily observation. Look at the life of Cameroonians at school, at work, in places of leisure, in the street, in markets, in public transport, etc. Nowhere in these places of meeting and activity is there any manifestation whatsoever of ostracism and explicit expression of rejection or hatred of others which could justify talking about a problem of living together. On the contrary, upon observation and analysis, the life between Cameroonians is characterized by a permanence of relations of conviviality and solidarity between people, conviviality which manifests itself on all occasions to the point even the term “neighbor” is commonly recognized as the mark of a fraternity generated by the proximity of physical location . In a more prosaic way, between Cameroonians in everyday life, we laugh together, we drink together, we study together, we work together, we flirt together… And when someone has a misfortune or is in danger, everything the world stops and gives a hand to save the person… So where is the problem of living together here if not that of being a fiction constructed by the regime to give itself a social and political discourse?
Poor living, a Cameroonian problem
When we gutted this political maneuver, we discovered that behind this curtain, there is a real Cameroonian problem, that of poor living which results from chronic poor governance due to inefficient public policies and the inability of this government to provide the minimum package of public service that should guarantee Cameroonians so that they feel at ease. This minimum package is made up of six areas in which this government displays questionable, if not insufficient, competence or even expertise.
It goes like this:
- of the primary health care system and universal health coverage where in health facilities you still cannot find a thermometer, a compress or a bottle of alcohol, where caregivers are kept in scandalous poverty, and where you are sure to die if you fall ill and are destitute. And yet we advocated a formula for universal health coverage which would be based on a generalized contributory model and which would be financed by a tax on the consumption of all products; the proceeds of this tax will be donated to a universal health fund with autonomous management powers. The advantage of a taxation leaned on consumption is that the biggest consumers will contribute more and that the layers with lower incomes will contribute less. The current annual health bill of countries amounting to 800 billion F and the GDP being 25,000 billion, this tax will represent only 3% of the GDP, which will allow Cameroonians of all ages and conditions to have access to all medical care unlike the formula currently being tested by the Government, the scope of which is extremely limited.
The same goes for schooling where our children are entrusted to 80% of teachers paid below the SMIG in the scandalous status of master of parents in primary schools or contractors in secondary schools. Applying the same model as the one applied for my health coverage, the government will be able to provide the country with an education system with a well-paid teaching staff and well-equipped schools.
This is the case with access to water and electricity accessible to less than 50% of urban and rural populations combined, the road network where in the rainy season, 80% of localities are difficult to access.
Finally, there is employment, where the government displays its incompetence in promoting an economic context where the investment rate would be 30% of GDP, thus being able to generate a growth rate of 8-10% like Côte d’Ivoire, which is likely to generate 400,000 decent productive jobs per year and thus reduce the massive unemployment that is undermining our society within a decade. The current major shortcomings of the government in this area have today led to a unique situation in the world where the bulk of the non-agricultural jobs to be created in our country are those offered by the public service. The result of this aberration is that the number of state employees is double the number of jobs in the modern productive sector.
This situation reveals the inability or even the incompetence of the current Government to formulate and develop policies and practices with a view to stimulating massive attractiveness policies for foreign direct investment which would create high-capacity companies targeting the global market and using much more labor.
The need for a paradigm shift and a review of the cast of officials in charge of the economy
It is at this level that the quality of the casting of the Ministers in charge of the economic departments must be questioned because it is the effects of the decisions taken at their level that the productive activities of the sectors under their supervision would generate massive job creation. At the point where the current performances of the various productive sectors are displayed, there is reason to wonder whether most of these officials are capable of understanding that the problem in Cameroon is first of all that of the economic model, and that this must absolutely experience a migration from the currently proclaimed import substitution model to a model of insertion into global value chains.
To return to our original remarks, it is clear that this Government has created a mirror to the larks with the false problem of living together which is more of a political diversion. Enlightened patriots must agree on the essential points such as the support of our Party, the PAL, namely:
1- Cameroon does not have a problem of living together populations; our country has rather a problem of bad living of the populations because of failing public policies.
2- The resolution of this problem shows that the current central issue of our country’s development is the economy, an area that requires the implementation of a new economic model.
3- To this end, there is an urgent need to engage the country as much in the paradigm of a new economic model: insertion in the global value chains as in a profound re-casting of the officials placed at the head of the predominantly economic ministries, most of which, if not all, show results attesting that they have reached their threshold of incompetence, as the other should know.
His Majesty Celestin Bedzigui
Chairman of the PA