By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The Cameroon Film Industry (CFI), a platform of film stakeholders in Cameroon with representatives from the producers, directors, actors, technicians, and writers’ guilds have called for a revision of the draft law on cultural and artistic associations tabled before parliament on June 29, 2020.
The members amongst other things made it categorically clear that the draft law greatly ignores the bicultural nature of Cameroon enshrined in the preamble of our constitution. To them it is reflected in the fact that the law does not take into consideration the organizational differences that exists in the two cultural systems of Cameroon.
“The law is unconstitutional because it raises a lot of conflict with other laws, Takum Fred Che, Financial Secretary of CFI said. “You cannot take a situation where the 1990 Laws that have guaranteed that Associations can be created at the grassroot level bringing it to the people. But this draft is centralizing the whole thing back to the Minister of culture.”
He added: “You have to procedurally suffer and even have to do a lot of documentation to make sure your application move from the sub divisional level to divisional, regional, and national level. It makes the Minister the only person to accredit and authorize the existence of federation. This totally goes against the 1990 liberal laws.”
The members further indicated that the law makes room for just a single federation totally taking away the freedom to form one which makes the draft unconstitutional. “The law is also practically difficult to apply because finally it is unclear if associations shall be under the management and control of MINAC or MINAT, thus creating a fertile ground for conflict of functions, responsibilities, and powers,” a concept note from CFI noted.
CFI which is a major stakeholder in the film sector of the country according to officials were and are being ignored and sidelined in the drafting of the law. The law to the officials does not have what it takes to harness, nurture and maximize their potentials.
CFI added: “The September 22, 1979, law which is used as base is misrepresented in the present law because whereas the 1979 law was intelligent enough to know that cultural groups and artistic groups cannot be governed under the same law, this one erroneously thinks they are the same. While the 1979 law uses the terms, “company,” “union,” and “guilds” to distinguish the appellations used depending on the area of competence, this drafts attempts to use them as hierarchical structures that are directly related and dependent.”
Proposing solution to the draft law on cultural and artistic Associations in Cameroon, the members of CFI said a clear distinction between cultural groups and artistic groups had to be made, with specific laws elaborated for each to ensure their smooth functioning.
“Artistic groups should be governed by internationally established rules that respect and know guilds as agglomerations of common interest,” CFI said. “A confederation of federations representing our bicultural nature should be established in the artistic groups with equal representation.”
The draft bill has however been adopted leading CFI, and other stakeholders involve grappling with the fallout of the “bad” bill as stated by some officials.
The bill according to the Minster of Territorial Administration Paul Atanga Nji is one that is going to make the industry more profit and make it closer to their minister than how it was before.