Is Cameroon Ready For A Bicameral System?

Palaise des Congres

The General Secretariat of the Senate, Cameroon’s upper house of parliament was this week moved from the Yaoundé Conference Centre to the head office of the Public Contracts Regulatory Board. If the officials of the senate have been tight lipped on the reasons for this delocalization probable due to shame or ignorance, those of the “Palaise des Congress” were quick to say it’s due to repair works ongoing that have been long overdue for the structure that is over 30 years old.

Many today wonder why the country’s second most important personality, the President of the Senate should be hurled from one part of the nation’s capital to another for whatever reason. And for all that Cameroon prides itself of, this country three years after the senate was put in place cannot boast of a structure to host it.  Its not as if it is today that the idea of the senate is around. Its enshrined in the 1996 Constitution of this Country. So what when wrong?

Was the senate forced upon us? Did we think of the means and sustainability of the senate? Of what imperative is the senate to our democracy that we precipitate its creation without the structures? How can our senators for over three years run their deliberations in borrowed premises without complain? Are our senators only interested about what they take home as pay package or do they have the interest of this nation at heart? Has Cameroon really descended so low that it takes only one man to decide for us all?

These questions seem endless, and yet none of those in our upper house seems to care. Where are we heading too, maybe our future senators would be the ones to answer these questions.

The question many Cameroonians would like to have a clear answer to is “whether  the Senate Secretariat will return to the Yaoundé Congress Hall after these renovation work ?” that is expected to last not less than 24 months.

The autonomous Congress hall has seen its own fair share of responsibilities with the ruling CPDM and the Anti Corruption Unit –CONAC anchored there as well. This is the only venue of international standard in Yaoundé and has over the years combined the holding of international conferences, seminars, CPDM congresses, music concerts and other related activities and of recent, the plenary sessions of the Upper House, with workers of the centre shifting from one makeshift arrangement to another as the situation presents itself.  The management of the Conference centre has been forced to do away with some substantial sources of income due to the senate holding there. Its Director Christophe Mienzok seems to have run out of patience trying to appease these services that even run on bigger budgets than him, whereas he is supposed to generate money for the state through that same structure.

There are press reports to the fact that land has already been attributed for the construction of the Senate but the means are limited. When it was announced that Cameroon will be a construction site a few years back, many have noted that this included the construction of a permanent site to house the Upper House of Parliament. Three years after, the secretariat of the senate is being tossed around from one government structure to another. Its still not clear if the Conference Centre will be open for the senate to run deliberations for the next ordinary session.

I imagine if such a scenario would occur in even poorer and democratically less advanced countries than ours. Cameroon maybe from this should learn to put the cart before the horse and not the other way round. After all with Cameroonians “nothing is impossible”

By Abongwa Fozo

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