Oral, Written Questions As Control Mechanism

Members of Parliament can either pose oral or written questions to government officials as provided by the law.

The Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon, which is the highest law of the land, stipulates in its Article 14 (2) that “The Parliament shall legislate and control Government action”. This provision of the law gives the members of the two Houses which constitute the Senate and the National Assembly, the authority to control the actions of the Executive. The control of government actions by the Parliament takes diverse forms amongst them oral and written questions to government officials during plenary or committee sittings.

The same Constitution of the country underlines in its Article 35(1) that the “Parliament shall control government actions through oral and written questions.” The article adds in sub (3) that “during each ordinary session, a specific sitting shall be set aside each week for question time”.

During such sessions, MPs pose questions to cabinet ministers and top State functionaries related to their fields of competence. During the March 2015 session for instance, different members of government notably the Ministers of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Philip Ngole Ngwese of Forestry and Wildlife, his colleague of Sports and Physical Education, Adoum Garoua and the Secretary of State in charge of the National Gendarmerie, Jean Baptist Bokam, who was in front of the Defence Committee for the scrutiny of the draft bill, all passed through grilling as they defended various bills tabled by government. The debacle of Cameroon national football team at the last African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea for example was a lucrative topic for MPs as they bombarded Sports and Physical Education Minister with questions surrounding Clinton Njie’s participation. November sessions consecrated to the adoption of the State budget usually produce more fireworks as MP most often ask numerous questions to get the nitty-gritty of the State budget and how the tax payers’ money will be used judiciously.

The National Assembly as per the Constitution may also question the responsibility of the government through a motion of censure which is admissible only when it is signed by atleast one-third of the Members of the House.

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