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CAMEROON – Towards Media Excellence – The Colbert Factor

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The Colbert Factor:

Patriotically unpatriotic Cameroonians

In the build-up to this year’s May 20, National Day celebrations, the Yaounde City Council unveilled in pomp and pageantry, a giant and beautifully constructed monument in the heart of the nation’s capital.

Estimated to cost over 2billion FCFA, the edifice designed and supervised by a foriegn architect, was christianed ‘Le Patriote’. Unveilled a few days to the National Day event by Cameroon’s Housing and Urban Development Minister, Celestine Kuetcha Courtes, personal representative of the Head of State, who himself had jetted off in a chartered flight few days before to Europe for ‘a brief private stay’, the monument and the European trip, crystalized Cameroon authorities’ understanding of what it meant to be patriotic.

No doubt that the monument was constructed in the spirit of the country’s leader, whose subbordinates never miss an opportunity to attribute any project realization to, including even the donation of a trash can to a community.

And, just like in the sonnet ‘Oxymandias’, by Percy Bysshe Shelly, the English romantic poet’, where the ruined statue of an ancient king carries the bold inscriptions: ‘My name is Oxymandias, Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair’, when in effect, there are no works left to examine in that empty desert; the boastful inscription on the Yaounde monument reads: ‘J’aime le Cameroun’, ‘I love Cameroon’.

Fittingly, Yaounde authorities’ patriotism and love for Country, as exemplified by the inscription on the ‘Le Patriote’ monument, is more of lip-service; as not far from the monument lie stinking heaps of garbage, cloaked water ways and delapidating public edifices abandoned over the years to themselves.

The inscriptions ‘I love Cameroon’, ‘J’aime le Cameroon’, stand in ironic contrast to the decrepit reality of what is patriotic about Cameroonian leadership. The pitiful state of Cameroon’s economy brought to its knees by the currrent leadership and its accomplices, undercuts the bold and boastful assertion of ‘J’aime le Cameroon’. And, some of those shouting on rooftops how they love Cameroon have sometimes tarred roads into their bank accounts in Europe. Such a savage contradiction renders the Yaounde Unity monument’s prideful inscriptions almost commically naive.

Just like in the aforementioned Oxymandias poem where the speaker evokes images of a cruel leader who wears a ‘frown’ along with the ‘snear of cold command’, clearly showing the king’s ‘passions’ such as ‘pride, tyranny, and disdain for others’, ‘Le Patriote’ monument may also be the current leadership’s lasting testament of its hubris, rather than the boastful patriotic intentions behind it.

In his internationally acclaimed work: ‘The Trouble with Nigeria’, which could fittingly as well be ‘The trouble with Cameroon/Africa’, Chinua Achebe accuses Nigerian leadership of projecting a ‘False image of itself’. The same could be said of Cameroon leadership that has made pilfering and plundering a steady menu on their tables and yet, cover up by composing patriotic melodies.

How can we talk patriotism in a country where public utilities are collapsing, where parastatals and state-owned companies are wastefully inefficient, where if you need electricity, you must buy your own generator, where if you want uninterrupted water supply, you must sink your own borehole, and where very soon, if you want to travel, you may have to set up your own airline, or have enough resources to hire one like our beloved father of the nation did recently. Was it not Chinua Achebe who suggested that very soon in Nigeria, and that holds true for Cameroon, one may have to build his/her own Post Office to send his/her own letters?

How can anyone in Yaounde talk patriotism when knowledgeable observers have estimated that as much as 70% of this country’s wealth is regular consumed by corruption?

And, what a beautiful way for Chinua Achebe to capture the trouble with Nigeria, and by extension, the trouble with Cameroon. According to him, there is no problem with Nigerians as a people, no problem with the climate, not even with the seasons as there is the dry and rainy season.

‘The trouble with Nigeria is simply a failure of leadership…the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example, which are the hallmarks of true leadership’, writes Chinua Achebe. I challenge anyone to state the contrary for Cameroon.

Contrary to Cameroon authorities’ understanding of patriotism, Chinua Achebe is very categorical in his definition of who a true patriot should be.

‘A true patriot should always demand the highest standards of his country and accept nothing but the best for and from his people. He would be outspoken in condemnation of their short-coming without giving way to superiority, despair or cynicism. That is my idea of a patriot’, state Chinua Achebe on page 16 of his book.

I dare state without any fear of contradiction, that all those who poured out on the streets in Bamenda and Buea on September 22, 2017, following Government’s failure to adequately addressing the demands of Anglophone teachers and lawyers, were and remain true patriots, demanding the highest standard for and from their country. I dare say the Mancho Bibixys who wanted a constant flow of potable water, good roads and better working conditions for Bamenda City Council workers, were the true patriots.

I dare say the Ntumfor Nico Halles, the Nick Ngwanyams, and the Agbor Ballas, who are ‘outspoken in condemnation of (Cameroon leadership’s) shortcomings without giving way to superiority, despair, and cynicism’, are the true patriots. I dare say the Dieudonne Essombas, the Fidoline Nkes, and the Equinox crew that constantly demand the highest standards for their leaders and country, are the true patriots.

What about those ordinary Cameroonians pushed abroad by a reckless deprivation of economic opportunities back home, and who toil day and night, sending home the much needed remittances to families and loved ones?

A leadership that would unwittingly alter the name of a state from ‘United’ to Republic and delete one of the ‘uniting’ symbols-the star-creating an image of assimilation, since pushed boys into the bush to be fighting and self-emolating themselves, cannot be said to be patriotic.

A leadership that cannot explain why 60 years after independence, it must hire a foriegn architect to realize a historic monument and why authorities must go abroad to receive treatment or take a recess when they could have constructed their own Camp Davids back home, cannot claim to be patriotic. Same holds for those who remain complacent, preferring to sing patriotic songs, albeit unpatriotically.

That’s why Chinua Achebe had to beautifully explain that unpatriotic leadership should not expect any patriotism from its citizens:

‘(Africans) are what they are only because their leaders are not what they should be’, he concludes.

‌*Colbert Gwain is digital rights activist, author, radio host, Commitment Maker at UN Generation Equality Coalition, and content creator @TheColbertFactor

WAIT! BEFORE YOU GO ON about your daily chores, ask yourself: How likely is it that the content you just consumed would have been created by a different news outlet if The Colbert Factor hadn’t done it?

Just think of what the media landscape in Cameroon today would look like without The Colbert Factor thinking out of the box. Who would accompany you in challenging the boundaries of conventional thinking? Who would help you relive John Naisbitt’s paradym’s shift to the effect that: ‘The new source of power is not money in the hands of a few, but information in the hands of many’?

There’s no gainsaying the fact that the kind of content we create not only helps in putting the right information in the hands of many, but is also necessary for democracy. It emboldens us to uphold our freedoms and inalienable rights.

In these perilous times, a truth-seeking and informative local news organization like The Colbert Factor is essential. But, it’s not easy, cheap or profitable. The Colbert Factor is a solution-oriented, independent non-profit content creation medium. It serves as the ‘first draft’ for newspapers, radio and TV stations, online news outlets and blogs. We don’t have ads and we are independent of corporate and government interests.

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When President Mnangagwa signed a document purporting to be his mate, see the reality?

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Hopewell Chin’ono’s Hypocrisy Exposed by Mr. Tinashe Mpasiri

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On 24 November 2022, Mr. Hopewell Chin’ono shared this tweet on his wall: https://twitter.com/daddyhope/status/1595758807392534528?s=20&t=YflO7bnB-32EN89x_0fPfQ with the following message directed to nameless and faceless South Africans:

“What we ask from South African citizens is for your President to STOP sanitizing Corrupt Rule in Zimbabwe and to STOP lying that our economy was destroyed by sanctions Listen to our President speak about the LOOTING in 1996.

Why doesn’t your president speak about free elections?”

The above mentioned tweet led to a conversation between Mr. Mpasiri, a member of the Justice Under Rule of Law (JUROL) and Mr. Chin’ono as set out on this link: https://heyzine.com/flip-book/d47b109920.html.

When asked why he had chosen to share a video of 1996 in support of his narrative that President Ramaphosa was guilty of sanitizing the corrupt practices by President Mnangagwa and his administration, Mr. Chin’ono responded as follows:

“ZPF leading Public officials operate with criminal business partners to loot public resources. For all intents and purposes sanctions are not the cause of Zim economic quagmire but ZPF looting public purse thru its puppet business partners from as far back as 1996?”

Advocate Matiza, a member of the Justice Under Rule of Law made the following observations and also a participant in the Banking on Africa’s Future (BOAF) – Legal Literacy WhatsApp group, commended as follows: “It is clear from the above that by importing the video in which Mr. Mawere was featured with Minister Mnangagwa as he was known then, Mr. Chin’ono was openly alleging that Mr. Mawere was Mnangagwa’s then criminal business partner who was his accomplice in looting public resources of Zimbabwe.

However, when exposed by Mr. Mpasiri, a member of JUROL and BOAF, Mr. Chin’ono backtracked as set out below:

TINASHE MPASIRI v HOPEWELL CHIN’ONO
TM: Good morning Mr Chin’ono.
My name is Tinashe Mpasiri and I am a member of the Justice Under Rule Of Law (JUROL).
I am an avid follower of your posts and exposé and certainly wish that there were more
Zimbabweans like you, working towards a diverse, inclusive, progressive and prosperous future
for all.
I just wanted to greet you and share with you a post that was shared in a group I am a part of,
that you may be able to shed more light on it.
https://twitter.com/daddyhope/status/1595758807392534528?s=08
HC: Thank you. I did an interview last night on the issue. Feel free to share it in your group
Find it here;
https://twitter.com/daddyhope/status/1595853417355784192?s=46&t=6iHx7x2V4i8IiLZyIobk_g
TM: Thank you very much sir.
Just for your information, I belong to a group with officials from Wits University and questions
arose yesterday after your sharing of the video.
I have been asked to communicate with you so I get clarity, so we can share with a proper
context.
Your narrative on the tweet is about president Ramaphosa’s failure to act on corruption in
Zimbabwe, but the content of the video, appears nothing to do with the corruption angle.
Kindly assist with the link between the two.
HC: Good morning. Thank you for the question and you can share this audio in your group, you have my permission.
President Ramophosa has been at the forefront of saying incorrectly that the economic crisis in Zimbabwe has been caused by sanctions, which is not true.
The video that you are referencing, is meant to show that the economic crisis in Zimbabwe
started way before sanctions were imposed by western countries.
The economic crisis was authored by looting of public funds by ZANU PF elites and their business surrogates and the plunder of the country’s natural resources.
That video shows president Mnangagwa when he was Finance Minister in 1996, speaking at an event in Washington explaining how public funds have been looted.
So my point is that the president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa shouldn’t be going around
misleading unsuspecting audiences, by saying that the economic crisis in Zimbabwe is being
caused by sanctions.
So for instance, president Ramaphosa talks about the social services pressures that are exerted by Zimbabweans coming into South Africa to use things like public services like health care. And all hospitals in Zimbabwe, all central hospitals in Zimbabwe, five of them, they only require 50 million to run without any shortages and that will make sure that Zimbabweans don’t have to cross the border into South Africa to seek public services that are provided through hospitals but these hospitals in Zimbabwe don’t have paracetamol.
The biggest hospital in Zimbabwe, Sally Mugabe hospital does not even have paracetamol, it
doesn’t have basic things like bandages and 50 million is only, that’s all we need to run our
central hospitals, but it’s not being availed to these central hospitals.
Now, ZANU PF by its own admission, says that 150 million USD worth of gold is being smuggled by ZANU PF elites and their surrogates every month. Which means what they steal in one month can run our central hospitals for 3 years.
That is the point that I making that president Ramaphosa is misleading unsuspecting audiences by saying that the crisis in Zimbabwe which is over spilling into South Africa, is being caused by sanctions, it’s not true it’s caused by sanctions. It’s caused by mis-governance. Thank you.
TM: Thank you very much Mr. Chin’ono.
This is very helpful and I believe we can build a shared understanding of only when we engage.
I will share your insights in my circles and beyond.
A number of questions emerge from your audio. By surrogates and having had the benefit to watch the video, who would be the surrogates and especially having regard to the fact that Minister Mnangagwa (as he were then), was speaking to a different subject matter involving empowerment and the role of government in financing it.
I could be wrong, but it is self-evident that he was talking about government programs whose
execution resulted in financial support being diverted to personal use.
Your response to the above would greatly assist.
HC: Surrogates were people like Mutumwa Mawere who was his front until they fell out.
Today surrogates refers to people like Kuda Tagwirei who has been a front for State looting
using his myriad of companies.

Here Mr. Chin’ono identifies Mr. Mawere as Mnangagwa’s front until they allegedly fell out.

This narrative is similar to the one peddled by Chin’ono’s friend and President Mnangagwa’s confidante and lawyer, Mr. Edwin Manikai as follows:

The message above was authored by Mr. Manikai on 27 March 2021 and was addressed to Mr. Fred Mutanda. The version peddled by Mr. Chin’ono is the same as Manikai’s version.
Mr. Manikai in the middle with Mr. Hopewell Chin’ono
Mr. Manikai in the picture with the visiting American delegation of Senators to Zimbabwe and his wife and Hon. Mliswa, Manikai’s best friend.
The SMM heist gang who authored and executed the divestment and deprivation of the control of 26 companies employing 20,000 people in 2004 using public power described as the precursor to the coup of November 2017 that was orchestrated by the same gang against Mugabe after successfully prosecuting the coup against SMM and related entities.

TM: Thank you for the honest response and obviously when I watched the video, I could not make the link between Mutumwa Mawere and the looting.
Perhaps you can share evidence supporting the allegation of surrogacy and the corruption
therefore in, so that I can afford both president Mnangagwa and Mawere to give their own
account of the precise nature of the alleged link between public power and private benefit.
Unfortunately, the video’s content does not establish the causal link which is vital in determining any dispute in an Independent and impartial manner.
HC: I didn’t say Mutumwa was corrupt.
I said that there were public funds that were doled out which amounted to looting.
You are misinterpreting what I said.
The video has nothing to do with Mutumwa being corrupt, it was meant to illustrate how public funds were looted way before sanctions.

Hopewell denies what he said before and claims the video that he intentionally and constructively shared to demonstrate the origins of Mnangagwa’s corruption had nothing to with Mawere being party to the looting of public funds.

TM: Thank you for clarifying and I am intrigued by your response.
You have asserted as true and fact that Mawere was Mnangagwa front and this aspect is not
evident in the video, suggesting that evidence exists that the alleged fronting you are talking
about, is supported by concrete evidence which is required in any bona fide process, seeking to hold people accountable for their conduct or misconduct. I would be grateful if you can identify in precise terms what Mawere front for Mnangagwa.

Mr. Chin’ono on SABC repeating the narrative of corruption as the cause of the Zim crisis.

Advocate Jack Matiza who was incensed by Mr. Chin’ono’s utterances remarked asked: “How can he be held responsible and accountable for social media post that damage another person reputation? My take is Hopewell is also guilty of selective amnesia he is accusing Ramaphosa of when it comes to sanctions, by stating that Mutumwa Mawere was an front of ED without providing any proof to that. Our self acclaimed award winning journalist and human right defender…ought to know that he who alleges must prove, is he not using or abusing social media or public media platforms to make unfounded statements without allowing the accused an opportunity to air their side of the story is itself an abuse of that person’s basic human rights?
To which Mr. Mawere responded as follows: “What if there exists no shared understanding on what are the obligations and rights of citizenship? What Hopewell could be saying is that information that he may possess is true and fact unless proved otherwise because he holds a privileged position in society as a journalist. In this case, affinity politics would compel him to conclude that because I shared the same platform with the current President of Zimbabwe this reality confirms a generally corrupt relationship. You can imagine what the true import of state capture and the legal consequences arising for its existence.”
Advocate Matiza by stating as follows: “There is certainly need to actively contribute to development of such shared understanding and common standards.”
Mr. Mawere commended as follows: “If asked to explain why the conversation is intriguing, what would be your response?

Mr Chin’ono genuinely believes that CORRUPTION is the elephant in the room.

He hold the view that he occupies a special and exceptional position in relation to the affairs of Zimbabwe.

He has a view on the 1996 video.”

When asked by Mr. Mawere, what identified questions arise from the hypocrisy inherent in Mr. Chin’ono’s open attack against Mawere and when confronted by Mr. Manikai, he quickly denied what he had stated as true and fact, Advocate Matiza responded as follows:

1. Abuse of the profession of journalism by an acclaimed journalist who has no respect for the truth in his narratives.

2.How should one define a human rights defender especially having exposed Mr. Chin’ono’s embarrassing performance by first alleging that Mnangagwa was using Mawere as a front only to backtrack and deny his own bold assertions.


3.In the face of hypocrites masquerading as award-winning journalists, what should be the best response to deal with divisive characters who have captured the profession and are using it as a weapon to advance their ulterior motives?

4. Section 2 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe imposes a binding obligation on every person to ensure that the rule of law is promoted, protected and upheld and in this case, what should be done by ordinary citizens to ensure that people like Mr. Chin’ono are accountable for their conduct which is inimical to the rule of law?

5. Does a person like Mr. Chin’ono know that he is also subject to the constitution and possesses no title or authority to maliciously defame other people. How best can he be held accountable for his reckless and dangerous assertions he makes under the cover that he is a journalist par excellence?

6. Does his conduct based on Mpasiri’s excellent interrogation not fall within conduct that is inconsistent with the constitution of Zimbabwe?

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