Biya Violates His Own Decree on Bilingualism Promotion The Guardian Post Newspaper Report.
The head of state Paul Biya has of recent made public a number of presidential decrees only in the French language in a clear violation of section 3(2) of his own decree creating the commission on the promotion of bilingualism and multiculturalism which is headed by former prime minister Peter Mafany Musonge.
Keen observers of the development say they have been left with the conclusion that Biya’s action means he apparently has little or no regard for the commission which he created earlier this year.
Biya, it would be recalled, on January 23, 2017, signed a presidential decree putting in place a national commission on the promotion of bilingualism and multiculturalism in Cameroon.
The move by the head of state, which had long been advocated by some civil society actors, pundits said, came in fulfillment of section 3 of the 1996 constitution which partially states that ” the state shall guarantee the promotion of bilingualism throughout the country. “
” Under the authority of the President of the Republic, the commission shall be responsible for promoting bilingualism and multiculturalism in Cameroon with a view to maintaining peace, consolidating the country’s national unity and strengthened its people’s willingness and day-to-day experience with respect to living together”, paragraph 3 (1) of the decree creating the commission, Quote ” Paragraph 2 of the same section says in part that the commission shall ensure the monitoring and implementation of the constitutional provisions establishing English and French as two official languages of equal status an especially ensuring their use in all government services, semi-public bodies as well as any state-subsidized body.”
The decree creating the body also empowers it with “receiving petitions against discrimination arising from non compliance with the constitutional provocations on Bilingualism and multiculturalism and reporting thereon to the president of the republic. ”
But since the putting in place of the 15 man commission whose members and Secretary General have long already commenced work,
the head of state, under whose direct authority the body is and to whom the commission is supposed to report any such “language discrimination” is apparently intentionally or otherwise, the one showing what watchers of the policy, literally call disdain for the commission.
In the last couple of weeks; the Guardian Post Newspaper has noted that of the many presidential text issued; be they appointments, dismissals, presidential directives, and condolence or congratulatory messages to foreign leaders, a significant number of them were first issued only in French, before either the English version was sent afterwards, or the French version was only translated by others into English.
One of them is the decree of June 27,2017 appointing university heads and other officials. As should have been the case, all the decrees appointing the officials ought to have been in separate English and French versions, but that was not the case. Instead only appointments having to do with the universities of Buea and Bamenda were in English while the rest were in French in one document.
It was thesame case with the decrees of July 4 2017, appointing senior divisional officers as well as Secretaries and inspectors general in the various governors offices. All were in French except for civil administrator in the two English speaking regions of the country.
Before then, there had been another text appointing and transferring magistrates across the country following the June 7 2017 meeting of the Higher Judicial council. Even the Guardian Post that had an opportunity to publish the full document could only lay hands on the French version.
Another recent decree that was issued only in French language was that appointing some officials in the armed forces including eleven new generals.
Other recent presidential messages of condolence or congratulations destined to some foreign heads of state, have been made available (published in the state run Cameroon Tribune) only in French.
Meanwhile, of late, official documents or press releases issued by the communication services of the ministries and state institutions have been only in the French language too to the chagrin of many.