It looks like the build up to February 2008. State workers and private citizens are again voicing their frustration over the inability of the government to rescue them from difficult situations.
A strike by lecturers of state run-universities is likely to go on in spite of the announcement of a one-billion-franc research fund this week. Health worker, who had also downed tools, have returned to work but union leaders warn it is only for the time being. Only two weeks ago, authorities were forced to deploy troops in central Yaounde to foil a protest by angry street vendors and hawkers who had been deprived of a livelihood by a poorly thought out campaign to "embellish" Yaounde. In Douala, workers have begun taking employers hostage to demand over due pay. Across the country, people are hurting and anger is building - again.
What is coming out of the recent developments is that the government strategy of promise-and-fail is becoming ineffective. People are getting wise and losing trust. Lecturers say they want to see the research fund go operational before they van return to work. Health workers said the meeting that was held in Yaounde this week and the promises that were made was a déjà vu. Since the February riots over high cost of living, the prices of basic commodities have only gone up, in spite of commitments taken by President Paul Biya to reverse the situation. No special lenses are needed to see that the country is sliding dangerous towards a breaking point - again.
The bad news is that in addition to a failing government, the economic outlook of the country is only likely to worsen this year, more than anyone imagined. The IMF now believes that the volume of wealth produced by the country would decline by about one percentage point to about 2.5 percent this year, compared to 2008. Unless the global economic situation improves, the timber sector is likely to collapse. The Chambers of Commerce estimates that 3,000 jobs are on the line. Last year, timber companies announced they had already shed 10,000 jobs. Petroleum, that gave the government a record 651 billion last year is likely to turn in a negative performance - production is falling and crude oil prices are about half lower than they were last year. Last week, the Minister of Finance hinted that the government could be forced to undertake budget adjustments.
A combination of social instability and economic woes would prove lethal. In February, the death toll was about 100, according to non-governmental organisations and 40, according to the government. The only way out appears to be for the government to overhaul its methods and consider radical and sincere reforms, especially those that would lead to smarter spending. Unfortunately, that is not happening yet. In March, we pointed out that the visit of the pope, honouring as it was, was too expensive for a broke country like ours. In a couple of months, President Paul Biya currently on a private visit abroad [from the state's pocket] is expected to take another expensive trip to Paris, France. No immediate benefits, to resolve the problems of striking lecturers, nurses and street vendors can be expected.
Newer news items:
Older news items:
- EXCLUSIVE: Biya, Fru Ndi discuss elections during “frank” talks
- Biya Beats Obama on Holiday Expenses
- Yang ignores Anglophone petition over EMIA recruitment
- Biya meets with US, France over Libya, Cote d’Ivoire
- Collywood unseat Nollywood - Imeka Ike
- Gov’t propaganda seeks to kill SCNC
- EU wants road links to Nigeria
- Wildlife law enforcement spreading in Africa
- Foreigners sweep top Camair-co jobs
- Discrimination, hate could become real problems in Central Africa-UN
- Former Central African Republic leader dies in Douala hospital
- Cocoa output set to double, says minister
- SOCATRAL denies blame for roofing sheet shortage
- Book Launch: Paul Biya -The People's Call