African Center for Advocacy took part in the 3rd edition of the Citizens’ Dialogue from 09 and 10 December 2021 at Hotel Merina, Yaoundé- Cameroon.

The theme of the 3rd edition of the Citizens’ Dialogue was Budgetary governance and health crisis: state of preservation of public wealth for the guarantee of human rights in the covid-19 context in Cameroon. It’s an output of the activities carried out by the Consortium ADIN, Afro leadershipCRADEC, DMJ and Transparency International-Cameroon; as well as the partnership CRADEC/TJNA. 

Countries across the world have dedicated unprecedented resources to combatting COVID-19. Response packages announced by Cameroon governments contain a series of measures designed to mitigate and contain the spread of COVID-19 and treat people who fall ill with the virus. 

3rd citizens’ dialogue picture.

Health financing policies are an essential element of health system responses to COVID-19. Accelerated procurement procedures to hasten access to personal protective equipment (PPE), medical devices and other essential items are critical for a timely response to COVID-19. By their nature, they open up possibilities for fraud and misspending.

« It is up to us, civil society and journalists, to identify the different beneficiaries of the contracts allocated during the health crisis and to monitor the effective implementation of these different contracts in order to ensure the proper management of the funds. » Aboudi Ottou, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Coordinator of the Cameroon Bureau of l’Agence Ecofin.

« The budget only makes sense if it is used to provide for the needs of the people. Public health is a primary health need. » Jean Mballa Mballa, Executive Director, CRADEC, said.

« Civil society must stand up against bad governance, not against an institution. In doing this, we should not be afraid of anything,» he added.

 « We are in a health situation that shakes the budget planning, and it is more often the poorest who are the most affected. The government should not take advantage of the health crisis to mismanage the state coffers. » Mballa said.

Good budgetary governance helps funds flow quickly to frontline health providers and other priority actions, as well as ensuring such funds are spent effectively and as intended. 

« To the attention of civil society, we must stand up against what is happening, and suggest to the government to put an ad hoc structure to finance the crises (climate, health, etc.) in Cameroon. Civil society has the skills and the means. » Stean Mpolo, Executive Director, Stean & Associate.

« It is necessary to lobby the head of government to ask him to assert his authority by requesting the withdrawal of any person or entity that should not be actors in the management of COVID funds. Mainly the COVID Taskforce. » Prof Mathieu MEBENGA said.

The 3rd Citizens’ Dialogue is part of the ongoing fight against corruption, the fight against tax evasion, the analysis of the management of public wealth and the evaluation of their impact on human rights. The general objective of this dialogue is to put Cameroonian citizens in line to fight against corruption and for human rights (health, education, drinking water, etc.), by defending the general interest. 

Participants were officials from the administrations in charge of implementing public finance reforms, audit institutions, members of the PBI implementation monitoring mechanism, anti-corruption organisations, representatives of Human Rights and Freedoms, representatives of Civil Society and development partners, the media, the private sector, academics and many other influential actors in the fight against corruption in Cameroon.

The fourth edition is set to be held in Bafoussam, Cameroon.