Wednesday, 28 September 2016

The MD and Chairman of Cameroon Water Utilities at each other’s throats

Ondoa Akoa Alphonse Roger
The MD and Chairman of Cameroon Water Utilities at each other’s throats on the suspension of senior managers accused of “misappropriation of funds”

The news on the suspension, on 23 September 2016, of the Managing Director of Cameroon Water Utilities (Camwater), Alphonse Roger Ondoa Akoa, went round this past weekend. Without official confirmation, this information was denied by the close colleagues of the leader of this public company in the drinking water sector.

To support their denial, these colleagues of the MD of Camwater released a copy of a resolution taken by the Board on 23 September 2016, “authorising, under regularisation, the Managing Director of Camwater to sign a financing agreement in the form of a donation with the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), for feasibility studies in eleven water treatment centres” in the country.

This document is signed by the Chairman of the Board, Jerôme Obi Eta, and another board member, Nkabkob Londjou. It is supposed to give the proof that Alphonse Roger Ondoa Akoa is still fully in office as MD of Camwater. Even though other credible sources continue to say that he was in effect suspended during the same board meeting, and it is now the responsibility of the Chairman to manage the business on a daily basis.

Despite this controversy, it is however certain that, based on the comments from our different sources, there is no love lost between the Chairman of Camwater, former Minister Jerôme Obi Eta, and Alphonse Roger Ondoa Akoa, new MD of this company, appointed on 8 February 2016.

Ongoing audit at Camwater

Indeed, we learned through Camwater internal correspondence, the relationship between the MD and the Chairman worsened between 19 and 21 September 2016. According to our sources, on 19 September, the MD decided to suspend the Administration and Finance Director as well as the Assets Management Director, officially due to “misappropriation of public funds”.

Responding to the notification of this decision, which was made by the MD, the Chairman, through a letter dated 21 September 2016, informed Alphonse Roger Ondoa Akoa that such decision, according to “the statutes of Camwater”, “is the responsibility of the Board”. For this reason, one can read in the letter, the MD is invited to “defer”, “with immediate effect”, the suspension of the above-mentioned managers. It was at this juncture that an extraordinary board meeting was called on 23 September in Yaoundé, the capital.

We can however note that these suspensions and other tensions at Camwater are happening close the end of a mission by inspectors from the Higher State Audit (Consupe) at this public company; a mission during which the inspectors are mainly exchanging with the Administration and Finance Director suspended by the MD.

At Consupe’s demand, which is now extremely feared by the MDs of State companies, since the launch of this type of Operation Clean Hands labelled “Opération Epervier”; the Admin and Finance Director of Camwater had to provide explanations and documents on the management of this company during the 2008-2012 period. This period corresponds to the stay of Basile Atangana Kouna, current Minister of Energy and Water, as head of this company, whom some present as the mentor of the current MD of Camwater.

Source: Business in Cameroon

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