13 June 2023
Minister Pandor expresses concern regarding the treatment of South African businesses in Cameroon
Following the Official Working Visit and subsequent developments of Minister Naledi Pandor to Yaoundé, Cameroon on 14 April 2023, to promote trade between South Africa and Cameroon, the Minister expressed her commitment to building people to people as well as business to business relations between the two countries.
Notably, the visit included fruitful discussions with His Excellency Mr Lejeune Mbella Mbella, Minister of External Relations of the Republic of Cameroon. It also included paying a courtesy call on the Prime Minister, His Excellency Mr Joseph Dion Ngute.
Additionally, on the sidelines of her official visit, the Minister convened a business forum attended by companies operating in Cameroon as a step towards promoting greater business collaboration, and prosperity in both countries.
However, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, has again expressed concern regarding the treatment of South African companies in Cameroon.
On Friday 14 April 2023, Minister Pandor was briefed by the Senior Executives of the two companies, Chococam (Tiger Brands) and MTN, who reported on actions by the courts in Cameroon which have impacted their operations. The companies reported the illegal freezing of their bank accounts since September 2022. They further mentioned that despite extensive efforts to seek legal recourse, they have not been successful.
The Minister has also been briefed by Senior Executives of Vodacom regarding challenges they are experiencing in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Minister Pandor had advised the Executives of South African companies to continue pursuing all legal avenues available.
In the case of Cameroon, Although the Minister remains hopeful that the matters will be addressed positively in line with the deliberations she had with her counterpart and other leaders, she has been appraised of the latest developments which amongst others have led the courts to order the banking partners of the two companies to release the funds subject to the garnishee orders to be transferred to an Escrow account administered by the Registrar of the court of first instance.
In view of the illegality of the garnishee orders, this step is considered by the two companies to be yet another irregular action taken by the courts at the instance of one party in the legal dispute.
The Minister’s Working Visit had affirmed the importance of regular political consultations between South Africa and Cameroon which was to create scope for greater collaboration in key sectors and on critical projects. Unfortunately, these latest developments will challenge the extent and appetite for investments into Cameroon, thus the minister called for the need for further explorations to resolve the attendant matters.
The Minister’s visit and engagements had also stressed the importance of creating a conducive environment that enables the private sector companies of both countries to operate and contribute to the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road