(EcoFinances) – Is the Minister of Public Health, Manaouada Malachie, one of those lurking in the shadows and who want to see the undisputed leader of the fish market in Cameroon, none other than Congelcam (Congelé du Cameroun), disappear? At least that’s what its CEO, Sylvestre Ngouchinghe, thinks.
In a letter dated 30 August, in which he replies to a letter from the Minister of Public Health dated 24 August 2023, but which only reached him on 29 August of the same month, after having made the rounds (for days) on social networks, the economic operator and member of the National Assembly makes no secret of his discontent. In this document, he makes it clear that the current Minister for Health, Manaouda Malachie, is using this approach to undermine his business.
« Mr Minister, we were stunned to discover that your letter dated 24 August 2023, which was addressed to us and of which we were just notified on 29 August 2023, has been circulating on social networks for the past two (2) days. What was the purpose of circulating a letter addressed to us for two days on social networks before forwarding it to us », asks Sylvestre Ngouchinghe.
The MP at National Assembly’s questioning is all the more plausible given that Manaouda Malachie has just, on the grounds of a call to order, attempted to encroach on the exclusive domain of the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries (Minepia). This is obviously not acceptable to the economic operator, for the simple reason that the laws in force in Cameroon do not authorise him to do so.
Attempt to undermine Congelcam
In addition to this argument, Sylvestre Ngouchinghe explains that while a Commission set up (on 07 June 2023, editor’s note) by the Minister of Trade (Mincommerce) noted in its report a quantity of around 334 containers deemed unfit for consumption (thus confirming the company’s suspicions), On 13 June 2023, he was very surprised to receive a letter from the Minister of Public Health in which he set up another (parallel) commission to carry out the same work on these containers at the storage site at the Douala Autonomous Port (DAP).
Even without hearing Congelcam’s managers, this commission produced a report in which it declared that the company’s products were of dubious quality, and that its managers had refused to provide it with administrative documents (certificates of conformity, health certificates, etc.). The committee then came to the company to request mission expenses.
Thinly veiled threats
Hence the conclusion of Congelcam’s CEO, who now seems convinced that the Minister of Health wants his company to die. « Mr Minister, we would like to take this opportunity to denounce such a move on your part, which has an ulterior motive, one of the recent consequences of which was the closure of our branches in Mbalmayo for three (3) months by the local authorities, without any palpable or valid reason, and which were recently reopened by the same authorities at their whim », the giant fish marketer in the country denounced.
Also, he added : « Your letter of 24 August 2023, which carries barely veiled threats, thought it necessary to order a new mission to assess the conservation capacity of our cold stores within a week, allegedly in response to a certain categorical refusal that you had received in the past. You felt you had to base this mission on the provisions of articles 8 and 20 of Law 2018/020 of 11 December 2018 on the framework law on food safety ».
As a reminder, the Minister of Health recently sent a letter to the head of Congelcam instructing him to submit within a week to the inspection and sanitary control of its facilities and food products released for human consumption « on pain of administrative and/or penal sanctions ». This was on the grounds that « the report of the inspection and control mission carried out by the technical teams of my ministerial department at the Régie de terminal à conteneurs (RTC) revealed the unsatisfactory preservation temperatures of the fish products imported by your company ». And that this inspection was categorically refused. Unsurprisingly, this sent Congelcam CEO Sylvestre Ngouchinghe into a tizzy.