By David Atangana
Some workers of Tubah Council say their salary advancements have not been paid since 2014. They expressed their frustrations after the council acquired a new vehicle for the Mayor to the tune of twenty-five million francs CFA. The Mayor speaking exclusively to MMI, clarified the situation, stating that he had paid salaries in the most difficult of situations, because of the ongoing Anglophone crisis.
The mayor further blamed the central government in Yaounde for the erratic nature of payments that are due to the councils.
One of the workers who spoke to MMI described the situation as inhumane as some of them have died out of frustration spanning from the non-payment of their advancements.
“I write to decry the inhuman situation under which the staff of one of the biggest councils in the North West is going through. When news got to us that the CPDM took over the council from the SDF, we all celebrated thinking that as the party in power, many things were going to change and the working conditions of the staff to get better. Little did we know that it was just a game of refilling the same old wine in a new bottle” said a worker who opted not to be named.
According to them, following the last local elections in Cameroon, the man who was mayor under the SDF ticket from 2013 to 2020 was retained by the CPDM, worsening the problems created by the same Mayor.
Their advancements, MMI was told have never been paid since Mayor Tanjong Martin took the reigns of power in Tubah.
“He has refused to pay our advancement dues since 2014 till date,” he lamented adding, “Sad enough, one of our colleagues who even went on retirement died last year after visiting the Mayor’s office on a daily bases for his money to be paid so he could get himself treated which was never paid till he died of sufferings.”
Some of them are on retirement facing tough times in the quarters with their money owed by the council with no signs of paying.
The council, according to some of the workers, has not paid their salaries for the past four months but has bought the luxurious car for the Mayor, a situation they described as provocative.
“We have come to see that they do not think of us as parents with families depending on us and for our kids to go to school. We have not been paid for the past four months but the Mayor has rather as a sign of provocation decided to buy his new Prado car and using for his trips while we are unable to provide for our children,” he cried out loud calling on the powers that be to hear their cry
TUBAH MAYOR, TANJONG MARTIN MISHONGONG PROVIDES CLARIFICATION
In an exclusive chat with MMI, Tanjong Martin Mishongong, the Mayor of Tubah Council admitted not paying advancements since 2014 but said he prioritized payment of monthly salaries to advancements for lack of resources.
Refuting claims that the council is owing four months’ salaries, he said salaries for January and February 2023 were all paid.
He however said the council is in financial crisis since 2016 due to the armed conflict in Anglophone Cameroon, a situation that has robbed the council of her sources of revenue.
“From 2016 till now councils are in financial crisis due to non-payment of taxes by the population because of the crisis we are having on the ground,” Mayor Tanjong told MMI, noting that, “The modern council structure is abandoned there in the bush in Bambui. We are now using rented premises where we pay two million monthly which is even very difficult to pay.”
According to the Mayor, all sources of revenue for the council are no longer there except building permits, making administrative work and payment of salaries burdensome.
“Our only source of revenue now is building permits. We can no longer go to the field even to collect market tolls. The council has not received even 10,000frs from any market in this municipality since 2016,” he went on adding that, “Even council sheds in Bambui were not laid to the tune of 87 million. I went on a rampage in December last year and raised 13 million FCFA in forceful recovery which we used for budgeting”
Due to the poor financial state of the council, the mayor said, “We were advised by Labour and Social Security to cut down the staff from 68 to 30. Though I accepted but later reasoned out that it was not the best thing to do since many will rendered jobless. I called a meeting and told my workers that we have to be managing since the council no longer has funds regularly because things are not moving.”
The mayor further explained that a huge part of the challenges they were facing was down to the erratic nature of their quarterly payments received from Yaounde.
“We never know what amount is to come, they come in late, and sometimes, these payments come in bits. So it is very difficult for us to budget and plan ahead. The central government is aware of the challenges posed by the crisis and should, therefore, support our councils more,” Mayor Tanjong explained.
NON-PAYMENT OF ADVANCEMENTS SAGA.
Responding to the Issue of nonpayment of advancements the mayor said, “Paying salaries is better than paying advancements.”
Without stating whether the advancements will be paid, he x-rayed the situation and qualifications of some workers when he took over in 2013, explaining that he had invested massively in their continuous professional development:
“I entered this council in 2013 and there was only one worker with an Advanced level. Others had the first school while some had nothing. I recruited two engineers who are category 10 workers. I sent three workers to South Korea for capacity building and sent two to CEFAM(now NASLA). Another is studying store accounting at ENAM. At the moment, one has just come in from NASLA. I have raised many of them from category zero to at least category 7” he went on.
He however revealed that he has been having quarterly meetings with the staff where they are free to raise their worries but no one has ever raised this issue.
“What have they done to meet their mayor with these grievances,” the Mayor challenged.
Noting that those complaining have ill intentions, he revealed that, “There is one worker who embezzled 118 million in 2012. We charged him to court for 12 months. After he refused to resume. He stayed away from work from 2012 to 2020 and when he came back he wanted to be paid arrears for these periods. We pay for work done not registration as members”.
25 MILLION PRADO STIRS CONTROVERSY.
At the heart of the brawl between the council workers of Tubah is a Prado car recently acquired by the Mayor for 25 million francs CFA.
Questions abound on how the council has no money but is capable of purchasing a 25 million vehicle for the municipal magistrate.
In reaction, the mayor described such complaints as uncalled for and insensitive to the actual situation and needs of the council:
“Complaining that I bought a car for 25 million is out of place. I don’t know how a worker can be questioning the head of administration without facts,” he said stating “The law says after five years, a service car is obsolete but I have used one car since I took office in 2013. I used that car for nine years before changing.”
The Mayor further explained that the old car had been involved in an accident twice and as such, changing it was a necessity rather than a luxury.
The Way Forward
Considering the crisis facing the council and complaints from workers, the mayor told MMI that the advice of Labour and social security to cut down staff could still be applied if things did not improve.
“If things do not improve, I will cut down administrative staff from 68 to 30. The rest will be laid off. When there shall be money, they will come back. With that, there will be no accumulation of advancements whatsoever”.
He, however, points out that in the context of the ongoing crisis, part of the solution lies in the central government in Yaounde, paying the councils their quarterlies on time and in a consistent manner:
“The way forward is that the central government should respect its obligations by paying its quarterly payments on time and give us fixed amounts to help us with budgeting,” the Mayor concluded.