From the Horse’s Mouth – Cameroon

FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH **

Contributions by our very own Jacob Kuh and Benjamin Nwall in Cameroon
Facts you did not know about Cameroon (Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon on the Gulf of Guinea, is a Central African country of varied terrain and wildlife. Its inland capital, Yaoundé, and its biggest city, the seaport Douala, are transit points to ecotourism sites as well as beach resorts like Kribi – near the Chutes de la Lobé waterfalls, which plunge directly into the sea – and Limbe, home to a wildlife centre.)

 

1. How are birthdays celebrated?
Birthdays are either celebrated quietly with a cake and a few friends and family members, or a feast is organised and friends, family, and colleagues are invited to rejoice with the person celebrating. Birthday feasts are mostly organised over weekends.

2. When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?
In Cameroon, it is not polite to offer a handshake to a person who is your senior. The junior will say good morning or afternoon and wait for the senior to offer his or her hand. It is not also advisable to shake the hand of a senior person whilst wearing a cap or hat – while your right hand reaches out to the hand being offered, your left hand should be used to remove the hat or cap.

3. What languages are spoken in your country?
French and English are the two official languages in Cameroon. The country has ten regions, eight are Francophone and two Anglophone. While these are the two official languages, Cameroon is home to about 230 ethnic groups and each group has its own language; therefore about 230 local languages are spoken in Cameroon.

4. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?
Due to the bilingual nature of the country, both the twelve and twenty-four hour clocks are used. The Francophones use the twenty-four hour clock while the Anglophones use the twelve hour clock.

5. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in Cameroon?
In Cameroon people drive on the right-hand side of the road. Driving is really different from one town to another. In Douala, the commercial capital, driving is very hectic. You must have a valid driving license of course and your car must be in good shape. We also have lots of motorbikes which makes it difficult to drive as they don’t really respect rules and regulations. The roads are not good, even in the major cities such as Douala and Yaounde. It is quite common to be stuck in traffic for anything from two to four hours at any given time.

6. How important is punctuality?
Punctuality is commonly not very important and ‘African Time’ is the order of the day. Most people will generally be 30 minutes to 1 hour late and will routinely blame traffic jams for this.
For official and government appointments, however, you are expected to be punctual.

7. What types of music are popular? Who are some of your most popular musicians?
Makossa and Bikutsi traditionally used to be the popular music forms in Cameroon. The advent of globalisation, however, brought many musical genres to Cameroon. For example hip-hop, R&B, Congolese rhumba and music from Nigeria.
Some musicians presently popular in our country:
Petit Pays – Watch
Manu Dibango – Watch
Richard Bona – Watch
and Charlotte Dipanda – Watch

8. Are there any Traditional Dances?
As mentioned earlier, Cameroon has more than two hundred ethnic groups and each group has their own traditional dance. Here are examples of a couple of traditional dances:
the Bakan Pygmies Dance – Watch
the Assiko (Bassa traditional dance) – Watch

9. What traditional Festivals are celebrated in your community?
The Batanga community of Kribi celebrates Mayi on the 9 of May every year – Click here.
The Duala community celebrates Ngondo each year on the Wourri river shores – Click here

10. What are your seasons like?
Cameroon has two seasons, a rainy and dry season. In the southern part of the country, the rainy season lasts up to nine months – generally April to November/December. Interestingly the 4th most rainy city in the world, Debudscha, is found in the South West Region of Cameroon: Click here
And the dry season lasts only three months – generally December/January to March.
In the northern part of the country the dry season can last about ten months while the rainy season can last just two months.
11. Tell us an interesting fact about your President?
Paul Barthélemy Biya’a bi Mvondo known as Paul Biya was born on the 13 February 1933. On 6 November 1982 he was selected to be the second president of Cameroon since the country’s Independence after the resignation of the first president Amadou Ahidjo. Mr Biya is one of the longest serving presidents on the African continent and is considered to be a key player in the central Africa region. He made headlines lately when he decided to fight the terrorist group Boko Haram, joining forces with Nigeria Chad and Niger.
He has a young wife with three children.
12. What are Cameroon’s major industries?
Agriculture is the major industry (cocoa and coffee mainly but also vegetables and fruit).
The country also produces oil and gas.
13. How do people spend their free time?
In cities, people spend time in their homes with occasional visits to friends or family and trips to Limbe and Kribi over week-ends during the sunny season. Whilst in the rural areas, people spend time chatting about politics and many other topics over a bottle of white wine or locally made spirit. People like gossiping – we call it kongossa in Cameroon.
14. What do people drink?
What people drink in Cameroon depends on their pockets. The majority go for locally made drinks like white wine made from palm tree (matango) or locally made spirits (odontol, arki). Meanwhile those who can afford it drink beer – some favourites are Guinness, Heineken and Kadji. South African wines are also quite popular.
15. What is a popular local dish?
It is very difficult to pinpoint one popular dish in Cameroon. Each region may have one or two popular dishes. However, Poisson Braisé/Roasted Fish seems to be a dish found nationwide.

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And the very popular breakfast of Beignets Haricots/Puff Puff & Beans (Puff Puff or Pof Pof are fried balls made mainly from flour and yeast and they are yummy)

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16. What do you pay for? (Euro 1 = XAF 655)
In a restaurant… A cup of coffee – 1,5 euros , a Coca Cola – 2 euros
A 2-Course meal for 2 people – nothing extravagant – 15 euros
At a shop… A loaf of bread – 0.2 euros, a local newspaper – 0.8 euros Milk from 2 to 5 euros
17. Security – in general?
People visiting the far north, north Adamoua and eastern regions of Cameroon should be mindful of their safety. The Boko Haram group and rebel groups from the Central African Republic have made these areas unstable. The rest of Cameroon, however, is generally relatively safe and the main cities, Douala and Yaoundé are very lively with people enjoying going out at night. The surrounding cities like Kribi, Limbe, where people like go to relax and enjoy the sea are also safe.

** Meaning: From the highest authority. From the source.
Origin: In horse racing circles tips on which horse is a likely winner circulate amongst punters. The most trusted authorities are considered to be those in closest touch with the recent form of the horse, that is, stable lads, trainers etc. The notional ‘from the horse’s mouth’ is supposed to indicate one step better than even that inner circle, that is, the horse itself

GHANA (Country risk rating: Medium); 22 June; Tensions high in Accra following violent protests

Tensions are currently high in Ghana‘s capital, Accra, where security forces clashed with thousands of demonstrators protesting against the demolition of the city’s Old Fadama informal settlement on 22 June. The violence, which involved protesters throwing stones at police and security forces reciprocating with teargas and live ammunition, centred on the Old Fadama informal settlement and the offices of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly. Although the situation has reportedly been brought under control, security forces are yet to continue with their demolition of the informal settlement. Any further such attempts are likely to elicit further violent protests by local residents which are likely to be centred on the Old Fadama informal settlement and surrounding areas. Clients in Accra are advised to monitor local developments, avoid all street gatherings and ensure that itineraries are kept flexible to accommodate for any potential travel delays.

Ministerial team to examine new immigration rules – Cabinet Phumla Williams | 11 June 2015

Also issues raised by Fitch Ratings are receiving govt’s attention at the highest level

Statement on the Cabinet meeting of 10 June 2015

1. Implementation of key government programmes

1.1. Cabinet was appraised on the outcomes reports for the fourth quarter(January-March 2015). It was satisfied on the progress that has been made in the implementation. Members of the Executive will undertake media and stakeholder-engagement activities to unpack the progress made in the implementation of the fourth quarter outcomes. Details will be communicated as soon as this schedule is finalised.

1.2. Cabinet welcomed the selection of 13 renewable energy producers during the fourth window of government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme. These renewable energy producers (solar and wind power energy) will supply an additional 1 084 megawatts in support of the national grid and thus help the country to move closer towards a long-term sustainable energy supply.

1.3. Cabinet welcomes the 2013-2014 Local Government Audit Outcomes and applauds the performance of municipalities that showed a consistent improvement in almost all aspects of municipal-audit outcomes. An overwhelming 96% of auditees (municipalities and municipal entities) submitted their financial statements on time, which is a major improvement from 93% in 2012/13 and 78% in 2007/08.

The report recognises that a concerted effort was made to address irregular expenditure. Notable is the significant increase in the number of municipalities and municipal entities with unqualified audits from 30 in 2012/13 to 58 in 2013/14, with only seven in 2007/08 pointing to a steady trend towards good governance and sound financial management.

Auditees with financially unqualified opinions now account for 76% of the total local government expenditure budget of R315 billion. This means that almost eight out of every 10 rand spent by local government is spent by entities with financially unqualified statements.

Of the 335 municipalities and entities audited, 102 improved, 194 remained constant, 27 regressed while two were new and 10 were still outstanding. This reinforces more efficient and accountable basic service delivery in line with the ‘Back to Basics’ approach. Cabinet welcomes that as part of the Back to Basics Strategy, special attention will be given to the 50 municipalities that received disclaimed audit opinions, particularly the 25 that received disclaimed opinions for the past five years.

Cabinet also expresses its concern over those municipalities that continue to employ unqualified people and thereby undermine good governance practices. The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, working with the municipalities, will expedite the process of resolving these issues.

2. Key Cabinet decisions

2.1. Cabinet approved the Strategic Turnaround Plan of the South African Post Office (SAPO). This plan has assisted in diagnosing the root causes of problems and also identified key strategic interventions to turn the entity around. A new business model is being developed to reduce over reliance on mail business and move towards a balanced revenue mix. Cabinet is confident the strategy will move the SAPO forward. The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, together with the management of the SAPO, will hold a special media briefing to unpack the plan.

2.2. Cabinet approved that the feedback received on South Africa’s initial report on the implementation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (2000-2013), be tabled in Parliament. This report was received from the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Cabinet endorsed the governance mechanisms to ensure an integrated, coherent and participatory approach to the implementation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in compliance to the constitutional rights of children.

Submission of South Africa’s report is in line with international treaty laws and obligations. This report also serves as a barometer on how the nation is progressing on upholding children’s rights and well-being.

3. Cabinet’s position on current issues

3.1. Cabinet commends the successful hosting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa in Cape Town last week, which reaffirms that the country is a world-class international destination for high profile events. WEF Africa provided a platform for government to showcase South Africa as an investment and business destination, which is critical to meeting the objective of the National Development Plan (NDP).

Cabinet also welcomes the significant role played by the media sector in ensuring that information from this critical event was carried across various platforms to allow issues to resonate with South Africans.

South Africa’s credit rating at BBB by Fitch Ratings reaffirms that the country remains open to foreign investment and further demonstrates government’s commitment to prudent fiscal management. Meanwhile, the issues raised by Fitch are receiving government’s attention at the highest level.

3.2. Cabinet welcomes the launch of the Media Landscape 2014 – Celebrating 20 Years of South Africa’s Media, which captures various aspects of the inspiring past 21 years in which media have played a critical role. Each chapter considers the media landscape from 1994 and reflects on how far we have come, while considering future challenges. Most of the stakeholders agree that much has been achieved in this discipline.

Cabinet urges those in the media, academia, civil society and government to read Media Landscape 2014, which provokes informed debate and discussion on the 20 years of the media in a democratic South Africa. The publication offers an objective and honest account of the country’s media sector. In the drafting process it fostered strong collaboration between government and the media industry, through leaders and civil society organisations.

3.3. Cabinet affirms its confidence in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to effectively execute its duties as mandated by our Constitution despite the recent change in its leadership.

The NPA remains steadfast in its work, and has the relevant structures and systems in place to continue to promote a crime-free society. In 2014 the organisation improved its conviction rate at all court levels with 93.6 per cent (273 641 cases) at district courts, 76 per cent (27 246 cases) at regional courts and 88 per cent (911 cases) at all high courts.

3.4. Cabinet welcomes the release of the first South African Stigma Surveyfocusing on attitudes around HIV and AIDS and TB at the 7th South African AIDS Conference, which is currently underway in Durban. The Stigma Survey, which is the largest in the world, provides practical and innovative actions and programmes to counter stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and TB.

3.5. Cabinet welcomed the success of Child Protection Week (CPW) and reiterates that our children are a bedrock of our country’s future and urges communities to protect them against neglect and abuse. Furthermore, Cabinet conveys its gratitude to all government agencies, civil society and social partners who are working tirelessly even beyond CPW to sensitise communities on protecting our children.

3.6. Cabinet welcomes the strong turnaround at Telkom in which government is a major shareholder, owning a 40% stake. The company’s turnaround has led to strong growth in revenue and a dividend for the first time since 2011 of 245 cents.

3.7. Cabinet was appraised with the implementation of the recent immigration legislation amendments and the immigration regulations of 2014, including the requirements for travelling with children through South Africa’s ports of entry, which came into operation on 1 June 2015.

Cabinet has however noted the views expressed by various sectors. In order to hear these views, Cabinet has resolved to set up a team of Ministers from both the economic and security clusters.

The team is expected to discuss and engage with the concerns with the aim of finding ways to address the unintended consequences brought about by the implementation of this regulations. This team will be convened by Minister Malusi Gigaba.

In addition, the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration will also continue with its work to relook at all the aspects relating to migrants that are in the country. This work will assist to provide synergy between migration and our laws.

4. Upcoming events

4.1. President Jacob Zuma will attend Youth Day celebrations on 16 June 2015 at the Tshwane Events Centre, Gauteng under the theme: “Youth moving South Africa forward”.

The President will also conduct a Siyahlola visit to the Tshwane University of Technology South Campus at Soshanguve, Gauteng on 23 June 2015. This monitoring visit will focus on initiatives and interventions implemented to improve the lives of our youth and empower them to better participate in the economy of our country.

Cabinet calls on young people to take advantage of opportunities offered by government programmes such as the Community Works Programme, which demonstrates how partnerships make a difference to community infrastructure and services, and also grows work opportunities into sustainable jobs due to the transfer and development of skills.

Through the National Youth Development Agency, more young people are also being brought into the mainstream economy through their programmes that provide support to young entrepreneurs.

4.2. South Africa will join the continental-wide celebrations on 23 June 2015 to mark Africa Public Service Day under the theme: “The Role of Public Services in Women Empowerment, Innovation and Accessible Service Delivery”. The NDP also identified enhancing the capability of the State as being critical to achieving Vision 2030. Since 1994 the country has also made great strides with the representation of women in senior management positions in the Public Service, which was at 39.8 per cent in March 2014.

4.3. Cabinet calls on all South Africans to join government on World Refugee Day, 20 June 2015, in reaffirming the country’s international commitment to treat all refugees with dignity. As a signatory to the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention and as a country that cherishes human rights, we have an obligation to protect the basic rights of refugees within our borders. In many instances these are vulnerable men, women and children who have been forced to flee their homelands and have done so with great courage, strength and determination.

4.4. The Department of Home Affairs, together with other government departments and agencies, will launch Operation Pyramid on 19 June 2015 at Skukuza, Mpumalanga under the theme: “Working together for safe and secure borders”. Operation Pyramid will better coordinate and align government’s and its agencies’ border projects, programmes and interventions. This transitional initiative will be operational until the scheduled establishment of the Border Management Agency in 2017. The secure, effective and efficient management of the cross-border movement of people and goods will be done in a manner that is consistent with the country’s national development priorities.

4.5. The 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, which will be marked on 26 June 2015, will be used to demonstrate progress made towards realising its ideals, and to show alignment between government policies and this historic document. The Freedom Charter is a foundation on which our world acclaimed Constitution is based; today it gives effect to the country we are building through our policies and programmes.

5. Appointments

All appointments are subject to the verification of qualifications and the relevant clearance.

5.1. Mr Zacharia Isak Modise as the National Commissioner of Correctional Services.

5.2. Ms Bernedette Muthien as the Deputy Director-General of Gender Mainstreaming at the Department of Women.

Statement issued by Ms Phumla Williams, Acting Cabinet Spokesperson, June 11 2015

Cabinet’s reaffirmation of immigration rules welcome – DHA Mayihlome Tshwete |

11 June 2015

Dept says ministerial team will look at matters of implementation, seek a balance between SA’s economic and security needs
Home Affairs welcomes Cabinet’s reaffirmation of Immigration Regulations

11 June 2015

The Department of Home Affairs welcomes Cabinet’s reaffirmation of the Immigration Regulations and, in particular, the requirements for traveling with children through South Africa’s ports of entry.

In order to amplify consultation for compliance between the Department of Home Affairs and key stakeholders in the aviation, tourism, travel and hospitality sector, Minister Malusi Gigaba will convene a Ministerial team comprising both the security and economic clusters.

Among others, the Ministerial team will look at matters pertaining to the implementation of the Immigration Regulations with a view to seek a balance between South Africa’s economic development as well as security needs.

The move to establish the Ministerial team will add to efforts aimed at addressing administrative issues that may have been experienced when the requirements for traveling with children through South Africa’s ports of entry were implemented on 1 June 2015.

The Department of Home Affairs believes the Immigration Regulations will minimize the vulnerability of children traveling in and out of the country. To this end, the Department of Home Affairs has received overwhelming support and encouragement from ordinary South African families who welcome moves to protect the well-being of children.

Statement issued by Mayihlome Tshwete, Department of Home Affairs, June 11 2015

New immigration rules must be put on hold – James Vos James Vos | 12 June 2015

DA MP says there is a real risk of the ministerial task team becoming a glorified talk-shop without any teeth

Visa regulations must be suspended pending outcome of Inter-Ministerial team

Malusi Gigaba

Malusi Gigaba

In light of government’s decision to set up an Inter-Ministerial team to address the “unintended consequences” caused by the new visa regulations, Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, must immediately suspend the regulations in order to prevent any further collateral damage from occurring. This follows yesterday’s announcement by Cabinet that an Inter-Ministerial team will be set up by Minister Gigaba.

The decision to implement an Inter-Ministerial team is not enough – Minister Gigaba must immediately suspend the regulations pending the outcome of the Inter-Ministerial team. Moreover, the exact composition, mandate, and powers of this team must be made clear.

I will therefore today write to Minister Gigaba, requesting he immediately suspend the regulations, and provide the exact terms of reference of the Inter-Ministerial team, including the following:

By which date will the team be formed;

What is its exact mandate;

Who are its members;

What is this team empowered to do; and

Will a composite finding be made, and by when.

The risk of this becoming a glorified talk-shop without any teeth is a real one, and must be avoided. The Inter-Ministerial team cannot function as a red herring while the red tape of visa regulations continues to strangle industry and jobs.

We call on the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, to back this call to avoid any further damage to our country as a destination for trade and travel.

The DA believes government must always act honestly, transparently and in the best interests of all South Africans. Government has tacitly admitted that the regulations are having adverse effects – they now have a duty to mitigate such effects. Suspension of the regulations is the only way to achieve this.

Statement issued by James Vos MP, DA Shadow Minister of Tourism, June 12 2015