With the growing need for public service delivery in Cameroon, we sat down with Mandela Washington Fellow Gerald K. AFADANI to discuss some of his initiatives aimed at strengthening democratic institutions in public management – focus on the judiciary.
Who is Gerald K. AFADANI
Thank you so much for offering me this platform to share with the public some initiatives we are undertaking aimed at strengthening democratic institutions in public management. That said, I am a multifaceted personality depending on which angle you spin me. In this context, am a Court Registrar serving at the Legal Department of the Court of First Instance Tiko and a 2014 Mandela Washington Fellow (Howard University, Washington D.C)
Can you briefly recount to us your journey as a Mandela Washington Fellow?
Huh! It’s been a long walk and gratifying experience for me. Well, it all started in 2014 when I was selected for my innovative ideas as Chief of Section for Trade and Personal Property Rights Register (RCCM) at the Court of First Instance Tiko. I had between 2009 and 2014 transformed the hitherto manual process of business incorporation through the use of electronic templates to ease data entry, collection and preservation. I was placed in the Public Management Institute at Howard University (Washington D.C) where I spent 06 weeks of intensive and enriching professional development alongside 24 incredible young Africans. After the academic institutes, all 500 Fellows attended a Town Hall with President OBAMA and one unforgettable moment of the summit was my handshake and brief chat with Michelle OBAMA. (smiles)
Thereafter, as one of the 100 Fellows retained for an Internship in the USA, I spent 08 weeks at the United Nations Foundation (UNF) New York working on many different projects notably the UNF / BNY Mellon Rule of Law Initiative and the Global Effort to End Extreme Poverty. With this experience, I founded Youth Renaissance International (www.yourein.org) which is a youth-led non-governmental organization working in the areas of education, human rights, governance, rule of law and access to justice.
At the end of the Internship, I was elected Chair of a 10-Member Regional Advisory Board for the Mandela Washington Fellowship. With headquarters in Ghana, we worked on the Board to organize the first Regional Conference for some 133 Mandela Washington Fellows from 21 countries.
In 2015, I was offered an Internship with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Arusha, Tanzania) where I spent 03 months working on the African Union Project 2016 amongst many other things.
Recently, I was selected to attend the first Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar (Alumni Ties) in Nairobi Kenya. So, that’s briefly my YALI journey.
You recently participated in an Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminar in Nairobi, Kenya. What was it all about?
Yes. An Alumni Thematic International Seminar (Alumni Ties) organized by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State took place in Nairobi, Kenya under the theme “strengthening democratic institutions in public management”. The seminar brought together some 40 Mandela Washington Fellows, Subject Matter Experts and U.S. Government Officials to inter alia, discuss challenges and share best practices in addressing issues of access to justice, public perception of courts, enhancing the rule of law and judicial ethics and efficient public management. As the lone participant from Cameroon, it was an opportunity for me to share with other participants the commitment of the government of Cameroon in upholding human rights, promoting the rule of law and access to justice through circuit courts/assizes or better still, ‘audiences foraines’ to ensure that whosoever suffers a prejudice can seek and obtain redress.
What were some of the lessons learned from the Seminar and how do you plan to replicate those lessons learned in Cameroon?
Well, there were a good number of lessons learned from our shared experiences. We understood that governance should be people-centered; addressing issues of corruption necessitates a holistic approach; that public-private partnerships are critical in driving reforms; and that the success of public service delivery hinges on integrity, ethical and professional conduct, transparency and accountability.
Through a competitive process, I have received a small grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S Department of State and administered by World Learning through a cooperative agreement to implement a project titled ‘Registraethics’. The project seeks to improve public perception of the courts by training registrars in the South West Region on ethical and professional conduct, harmonize and make public court registry fees and charges. The Project will address problems of probity, integrity, propriety, competence and diligence and access to information.
As the gateway into and out of the judiciary, court registry personnel are the first point of contact for those who need services rendered by the Courts, it is therefore important to instill in them [court registry personnel] qualities of integrity and transparency, decorum and professional comportment. The objectives will be achieved through the organization of a one day regional seminar on ethics and deontology; the publication of interviews in the print media; through participation on the radio program ‘you and the law’. Integrity and Ethics are intricately linked to efforts aimed at strengthening democratic institutions in public management.
Whereas, in performing their duties, court registry personnel serve as sentinels of justice. Any act of impropriety on their part inestimably impinges on the dignity and honour of the judiciary and the peoples’ confidence in the third arm of government.
Thank you for talking to us.
Am the one to thank you for this platform and it is our hope that, you will accompany us in the implementation of this project by reporting on the seminar and other earmarked activities. Thank you so much.
We remain dedicated to serving the people of Cameroon by bringing to them vital information.
Source: Eden News paper