A presidential decree took Cameroonians by surprise on Friday 02 March, 2018. A cabinet reshuffle was announced with some new faces making their way into government, others changing portfolio and some edged out.
According to the presidential degree, on the proposition of the Prime Minister, Head of Government, Ministries like those of Secondary Education, Energy and Water Resources, etc, were among some of the departments that welcomed entirely new Ministers.
What appears obvious in the decision by the Head of State is the desire for institutional stability and continuity in government services. Not only are the new officials expected to improve on what their predecessors did, those occupying some key cabinet positions were not touched.
The Prime Minister, Head of Government who has been on the field both at home and abroad ensuring that all instructions by the Head of State are well implemented, kept his position. Such a measure of confidence by the Head of State, like in 2009, 2011, 2015 is a call to duty. As such, the determination to serve the Head of State by overseeing effective government functioning ought to be reflected in the attitude of all the other cabinet members.
Those either making their first entry into government or changing portfolio as well as those who maintained their positions therefore have the challenge to work for the vision President Biya has defined for the proper accomplishment of his action plan. With 2018 being an election year, the stakes are evidently high for the entire cabinet, given the uphill task of providing good living standards for Cameroonians. The clarion call to make Cameroon an emergent country by 2035 has at times been more of a sing song to some without the real determination to pursue the goals set by the Head of State.
Acts of corruption, nepotism, bigotry and other malpractices have continued to be observed across the country. However, with the country having started several important projects with donor partners like the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank and so on, the swapping of positions between the Ministers of Finance and that of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development, also point to the fact that the Head of State made such adjustments to guarantee continuity.
Beyond the simple fact of administrative continuity in the case of changes at the head of services, there are key files that the President of the Republic certainly would not have seen them move into entirely new hands. Some Ministers who changed seats like the former Minister of Territorial Administration, Rene Emmanuel Sadi and the Minister Delegate at the Ministry of External Relations in Charge of Relations with the Commonwealth, Chief Joseph Dion Ngute, both moved to the Presidency in charge of Special Duties.
Minister Sadi, for instance, is simply returning to a place and duty post where he served in the past. The times might have changed and the context today may not be the same as it was when he worked there some years back, but his experience and loyalty to State institutions ought to be the same. In addition, the Head of State announced a number of projects for his seven-year tenure of office that is ending this year.
Those who know any aspect of such ambitious initiatives may have to work harder to ensure a good finish. It is therefore not anecdotal that a new Ministry has seen the light of day to foster decentralization; while Territorial administration has been given the specific task to ensure territorial integrity.
That certainly means the upcoming elections of Senators on 25 March, 2018 and others that are still to be announced will constitute a litmus test for the new Minister to accompany election officials, given the role of elections in ensuring peace and stability in a country like Cameroon which is still in full democratization process.
So, while the new dawn begins today for the cabinet, those who kept their positions, those who changed portfolios and those coming in for the first time have to take up the mantle with a clear view of building an emergent Cameroon.