GCI Opinion: Chronicle Article on Kumba Council is Biased and Misleading

Global Conscience Initiative’s Chief Executive has described as abuse of free speech an article published in the Chronicle newspaper No. 113 of February 6 – 18, 2007, alleging a financial scandal rocking the Kumba Urban Council.

“The allegations in the article are just not true, investigated, biased, misleading and have all the elements of malice”, said the Global Conscience founder.

Mr. Samba Churchill, who is also president of the Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists, CAMASEJ, Kumba chapter, made the denunciation on Wednesday, February 7, 2007, after the Government Delegate of the Kumba Urban Council, in the presence of his collaborators and other key staffs of the Council, brief media men and women in Kumba on the situation of affairs in the Council.

The Chronicle had amongst many other things, reported that the council was virtually comatosed and that the signature of the Government Delegate had been suspended due to huge financial improprieties. The article had evidently disturbed the Delegate and compelled him to call for the press briefing, to address the issues raised in the article and clarify public opinion. The press briefing lasted for over three hours, during which the Government Delegate picked on all the accusations in the article and tried to disprove them with documentary evidences. Other top Council Officials threw more light on the Delegate’s explanations.

“I am very convinced that the author of the article was serving a vested interest rather than the Kumba community’s”, said Mr. Samba. He added that the reporter was evidently misled, and he allowed himself to be used without any moral or deontological reflections and considerations.

The CEO advised that the Government Delegate, to encourage freedom of expression and democracy, write a rejoinder to the article, addressing its very content, and address the same to the Editor of the Chronicle Newspaper. He also urged the Editor of the Chronicle newspaper to publish the rejoinder, with or without comments, and make room for a much more broader public debate on the Council ‘s operations and transparency.

Also, Mr. Samba appealed that the Government Delegate and other administrative heads should create more forums to talk to the press because, according to him, in so doing they will clarify any doubts in the minds of the public about what they do, how they do it, where they are doing it, and why they do it. Global Conscience is an independent peace-building organization through the promotion of human rights, democracy and governance.