Following the Fako Land–grabbing saga, the SDO, Zang III has admitted to having only four plots. He claimed that it is his right to own the plots while describing as a political ploy and name-calling, accusations that he is a land -grabber. He further claimed that he wants to build on the plots and subsequently enjoy his retirement here, like many administrators who served in Fako or Southwest before him. Zang III spoke to The Post in what was more of a quarrel than an interview.
The Post: How would you react to the suspension of surrender of land by the Minister of State Property, Lands and Surveys?
Zang III: The suspension is a temporary measure and it is due to the number of petitions the Minister received on the land surrender in Fako. I think the Minister and the Government are looking for better procedures to surrender land. It is a general issue because there is another circular the Minister signed No. 008/MINDCAF/A100 of August 8, 2014, suspending land surrender in Donga Mantung Division in the Northwest, Fako, Manyu and Meme in the Southwest and Menoua in the West Region.
How many plots or hectares of land do you own in Fako Division?
I have four plots in Fako which, even if put together, will not make up to one hectare.
How did you acquire these plots?
I was given them by communities without any pressure. My files were recorded by normal procedures by the competent services of the Ministry of Lands, Surveys and Housing Affairs. My name appears on the maps because I didn’t see any problem, any doubt to do so since I was given the plots freely; otherwise, I could have put fake names like others.
Some of the documents we have indicate that you were allocated the lands by communities, others by the Divisional Officer, DO. What was the DO’s cut in the transactions?
It is absurd and scandalous to focus all the opinion on the plots owned by the SDO who is a Cameroonian like any other, while others have acquired hectares and hectares or have mismanaged enormous parcels of lands many years ago without any noise. Every week, I have to solve land conflicts or disputes where some personalities and other persons have grabbed land. But I have to remain reserved about it. Why only my person is being dragged in the mud because I have a few plots and am interested to build, to improve the standard of my family. Some Chiefs have voluntarily decided to give me one or two plots, without any pressure, and they have the right to do so. It has been the case since, before my arrival in Fako, for other personalities, elites and civil servants, economic operators, and so on. I have not forced any Chief, any community to give me land. The lands I acquired from the state lands come through a process headed by the Divisional Officer, in tandem with the regulations in force
There are allegations that in the cases of Ngeme and Mokundi where it is claimed due procedure was not respected?
In the case of Ngeme and Mokundi, why don’t you ask the former Divisional Delegate of Lands and Surveys to know the truth? Since he is very involved and I am not the sole proprietor in their area. This is proof of sabotage, xenophobia and blackmail.
Before acquiring these lands, were you not aware of the 1982 Circular No. 003/CAB/PR of February 8, 1982, which prohibits administrative authorities from acquiring national lands in their areas of command?
I was aware of that text. But I want to remind you that this is my third stay in Fako. The first was during my internship under the then Divisional Office in Limbe in 1984 when I was a Cycle ‘A’ student at ENAM, with the late SDO, Nde Fosah. The second time was during the period 1986 – 1991 when I served as Deputy Director of CEFAM Buea. And the third is now that I am serving as SDO for Fako from November 16, 2012. You can easily understand that it is by the grace of Almighty God and the confidence bestowed on me by the Head of State that I am back in Fako after 21 years. So, I consider the jurisdiction as my second home, what could easily be justified that I obtained these plots in order to invest like others before me; like any other Cameroonian; like other illustrious administrators who have served in Fako in various capacities and enjoy their retirement either in Buea or Limbe. I am a citizen and I think it is a legitimate right to live with people imbued with legendary hospitality, generosity and humanity. It is not a crime or an abomination.
How many of these lands have you sold?
I have not sold any land in Fako. I don’t recognise myself in selling land to other persons. It is unbelievable and regrettable that anytime someone is questioned on an illegal sale of land, he points at the land of administrative authorities. I am neither a land-grabber nor a land merchant. Let it be clear: how the Human Rights organ has not investigated many cases reported to it since 2003 and even before. There are cases they have been informed and they know very well. There are so many of them. But the Human Rights can point out only an administrators without going through some impostors who are only living by selling lands or being facilitators in land transactions in the whole Fako (Buea, Tiko, Mutengene, Limbe). They know themselves in various villages. I have never signed a document for the sale of land anywhere. How can Human Rights point at only the SDO; without investigating or knowing the role played by the former Divisional Delegate of Lands and Surveys, Thompson Kinge Molonge, transferred to Kupe Muanenguba who is immensely rich, being a Category B1 in the public service and having only less than seven years of work. And there are many others like him. I am a seasoned administrator. So, I have to be discreet in the matters I am treating. I have a multiplicity of files on that issue in my office, but my duty is not to expose those concerned – just to open enquiries and stay calm and quiet. Those who are intoxicating the atmosphere are those who have connection with the illegal vendors of land. They know themselves.
How many houses have you built in Fako?
Presently, I have not built any house. But from the plots I have acquired, I intend to do so since I am a Cameroonian. I am obliged to participate at my level, in the development of this division, of my country, that justifies why my name is on my plots.
How are villages carved out in Fako and how are the Chiefs designated?
Let me remind you that the creation of administrative units is the prerogative of the Head of State. About chieftaincy and selection of chiefs in Fako – the tradition of the Bakweri stands and is still valid. The chief is selected from among the royal families and the lineage of ancestors. For administrative authorities, Decree No. 77/245 of July 15, 1977, bearing on the organisation of traditional chieftaincies, is the reference.
What do you know about Wonjoku village?
Wonjoku is a disenclaved community within the Buea Municipality, located not far from the Buea Mountain and close to Bova II, recognised by colonial authorities and Cameroonian administration. Six families are natives of this village, namely; Wonya Ndima, Wonya Ngenge, Wonya Likuba, Wonya Liombe, Wonya Lisonge and Wonya Kose.
There are allegations, by the actors themselves that you are in the process of designating a Chief for the other Wonjoku near Bulu Village?
There is no file about Wonjoku chieftaincy matter on my table.
Mr. Prefect, how could Great Soppo with a heavy population density be given less land than Wonjia Village?
I want to note that for a community to benefit a parcel of land surrendered by the Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC, an application has to be addressed to the SDO by the Chief or the Traditional Council of the village. The SDO then sets up a commission comprising all parties; the technical services of Lands and Surveys, the CDC, the Chief and two notables and his representative, to identify a place and make recommendations, depending on the availability of the land in the area concerned. The whole file (application, minutes of the commission, cadastral map) is forwarded to the General Manager of the CDC for the approval of the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors can approve the surface recommended, or modify it by reducing it or sometimes increasing the surface or even reject the file. After the advice of the Board of Directors, the file is sent back to the SDO who then transmits it to the Ministry of Lands and Surveys for signature of the ministerial order to allocate the land effectively to the community, village, organisation concerned. So many factors justify this situation: 1) the application sent to the CDC (motivation; needs of the population, historical background of the village). 2) The decision of the Board of Directors/the Ministry of Lands and Surveys. Now, the Great Soppo community has already benefitted from the first land surrender and they applied for a second allocation, meanwhile, for Wonjia, it is the first application. The land surrender by the CDC is for indigenous population. Could you prove that Great Soppo, which is an urban area, its population is indigenous? Anyway, Wonjia didn’t receive any land surrender during office as from November 2012. But Great Soppo by ministerial order No. 000222/MINDCAF/SG/D2 of February 2014 was given 40 hectares. The Chief of Great Soppo happens to be a top ranking personality in CDC management.
The Governor in an interview with The Post said you are the one who knows about New Layouts. How do you do that?
Yes, it is true. The SDO is in charge of private state land and the one to conduct files in order to create New Layouts in collaboration with the municipal authorities, the technicians of MINDCAF and MINDHU. It is a process which is finally approved by the MINDCAF. Now municipal authorities and individuals are also authorised to create New Layouts. The new texts are clear on that.
Money is alleged to have been stolen from your office in millions. Was that not money from the sale of land?
It is evident that that is another rumour propagated by my detractors to tarnish my image and dignity. These are false and unfounded allegations. How can you imagine that money is stolen from my office without me conducting an investigation through the competent services of the forces of law and order on the matter? How can this criminal act happen in my office when we know that the office is secured by the Limbe Naval Base every night? How can this allegation be true without any suspicion from my personnel? Since I occupied that office, no theft has been recorded. Anyway, I don’t keep money in my office. Moreover, I have never been involved in any land transaction. I am responsible for private state property in terms of land.
We have information on good authority that you administrators have bought cattle with the money from the land and are running ranches. How much cattle do you have?
I don’t have any cattle anywhere.
Land was allegedly sold to a company, Telcar, for a whooping sum of FCFA 400 million. How much was your cut in the deal or how much did you visa the deal for?
I don’t know about this issue of Telcar Company. Those who are specialised in using administrators’ names when dealing with illegal transactions know better about it.
There is a hotel mushrooming opposite and a potential competitor with Mountain Hotel in Buea, said to belong to a Government Minister. How did he acquire this State land meant for living quarters for Mountain Hotel workers; or, who gave him the land?
There is no file about that land on my table.
What would you tell the Fako people and the general public about this land grabbing saga?
I want to tell the Fako people that I do understand their claims about the management of land. It is normal and I think the Government is well aware and will try to find a solution, for a better procedure of land surrender by the CDC to the communities. This is a problem of general interest. But I can’t understand the ongoing intoxication against our traditional and administrative authorities by a small group of reckless demagogues who are pushing our peaceful population to violence, xenophobia and exclusion, against national integration and peace. It is very likely that all this noise made by some unscrupulous persons is due to frustration, anger and jealousy, for selfish and egoistic interest. But the mismanagement of Fako land does not start with my arrival at the helm of this division. Many patient observers can even notice that I tried to clarify the procedures and explain the process of land surrender by the CDC to the population or the communities. I would advise the population of Fako to have confidence in the Government, to remain calm and loyal to the Head of State who is engaged to conduct Cameroon to an emergent country in 2035.They just have to appraise the various projects in the pipeline for the development of this beautiful administrative unit, namely; the fertiliser factory in Njonji, the multifunctional wharf in Ilongo, the Down Beach project in Limbe and the resounding success of the Reunification celebration. We shall not accept any breach of our most cherished peace by any group of persons who preach disunity, exclusion and xenophobia among Cameroonians.
Interviewed By Bouddih Adams