Ernest Ela Evina, the general manager of the National Center for the Study and Experimentation of Agricultural Machinery (CENEEMA), has been in post since 1974 in a country where the law on public enterprises stipulates that the term of office should not exceed 9 years. He was 43 years old when the former President of the Republic, Ahmadou Ahidjo, signed a decree appointing him as GM.
Established in 1974, CENEEMA has the mandate to implement government’s agricultural mechanization policy. However, the scandalous nature of the general manager’s record-breaking longevity is now exacerbated by its illegality. At its June session this year, the Francophone dominated National Assembly adopted a law on the general statute of public enterprises which states in Article 70 (2) that a General Manager and his Deputy are appointed for a term of office of Three (3) years, possibly renewable two (2) times.
Paragraph 3 of the same article specifies that in all cases, the cumulative mandates of the GM and / or Deputy may not exceed nine (9) years. Long before this so-called June Act of parliament, Cameroon had promulgated into law via a 22nd of December 1999 Act, the status of public establishments and public and para-public enterprises in which Article 47 (1) stipulated that “GMs and their deputies shall be appointed by a two-third majority of members of the board of directors for a period of three years renewable twice.
Article 68 of the above-mentioned Act added that general managers may also be appointed by presidential decree for a period of three years, renewable twice. Mindful of the 1999 law, the Chief Executive Officer of CENEEMA, who is now over 80 years old, is not recognized by law, just as several others across the country have been at the head of public enterprises for decades.
A Francophone tabloid, Cameroon Info.Net that highlighted the revelation noted that CENEEMA have never reached the objectives that were assigned to the body at its creation. President Biya has kept the general manager for all these years because Ernest Ela Evina has been using his expertise and Cameroon government’s agricultural machinery to work and modernize Paul Biya’s private farms.
By Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai with files from CIN