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"In Penja the banana leaves a bitter taste"

Cameroon: Banana industry weighed down by scandals

There is still a lot of improvement required in the banana industry in Cameroon, as mentioned by Wake up Africa. According to them firms from abroad (such as an American multinational and the French Compagnie Fruitière) practice modern slavery and neo-colonialism with the support of dignitaries of the regime.

Wake up Africa: "Haut Penja (PHP), most important producer of bananas is under suspicion of abuse, forced expropriation of land, unfair labour relations, unreasonable dismissal, absence of trade unions, ridiculously low salaries and working days of more than 14 hours.

At the same time the residents complain about the pollution as a result of the plant protection means. Products prohibited by the EU, because of health risks are traded as usual in Penja. As a result of these environment polluting chemical products an abnormal increase in cancers, breathing and skin diseases are being observed. The prosperity acquired by PHP is also not used for the benefit of the inhabitants of Njombé. The roads are damaged by the lorries of PHP and the associated companies have not paid taxes for 20 years.

PHP has the political responsibility, the government and the judiciary in its inside pocket. The executives are being paid well in order to keep keep quiet. PHP count on the governing party (RDPC) and hires out land to high military officers. PHP is a member of the Association de la banane camerounaise (Cameroon association of banana producers), a lobby directed by the brother in law of the minister of finance Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana.

Show trials are held, arguments disappear and witnesses are silenced. According to the French daily Libération president Paul Biya would be one of the most important shareholders of the company. In any case PHP has pineapple orchards in the village of Mvomeka'a in south Cameroon.

On 26 April the opening night of the film La Banane of the young Cameroon director Franck Bieleu was forbidden. This film denounces the exploitation of the inhabitants of Penja, shows the air and water pollution as the result of poison used in the orchards and factories by PHP. French journalists were arrested recently because they wanted to film demonstrations by SOSUCAM (another partner not interested in the rules) expropriated citizens. The journalists nevertheless received permission from the national director of the film industry. He will without form of process be removed from his position.

Attempts by Paul EricKinguè, ex mayor of Djombé Pendja, to expose this abuse made him end up in jail.

This banana scandal is only the tip of the iceberg. It is sad to see that 50 years after independence neo-colonialism is still reigning supreme, In Penja the banana has a bitter aftertaste."


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