Douala: Célestin Tawamba elected first president of unified business federation 0

During the significant electoral meeting on April 9 in Douala, Célestin Tawamba was elected with an overwhelming majority as the first president of the Cameroon Business Consortium (Gecam), garnering more than 98% of the vote. He was the only candidate. Tawamba, who leads Cadyst Invest, takes on the presidency in the aftermath of a highly debated merger. This merger brought together the Inter-Patronal Group of Cameroon (Gicam), the nation’s premier business organization, and the smaller, yet significant, business group Entreprises du Cameroun (Ecam), which itself was born out of dissent within Gicam.

The merger treaty between Gicam and Ecam was signed on April 5, 2023, and ratified on July 11, 2023, amidst attempts by some Gicam members opposed to the merger to block the assembly. These dissenters, who also initiated legal proceedings, suspected Tawamba of seeking to dissolve Gicam for personal gain. Critics argued that Tawamba, having served two terms as the president of Gicam and ineligible for a third term, orchestrated the merger to head the nascent organization.

Despite opposition claims, the decision for a merger-creation rather than a merger-absorption was made, a choice that did not alleviate suspicions surrounding Tawamba’s motives. This led to the establishment of Gecam, effectively dissolving Gicam despite reservations from both the council of elders and the board of the then-leading business organization in Cameroon.

Tawamba has faced criticism since the inception of his merger proposal but maintained that his goal was simply to unify the business community for a more effective representation of corporate interests. On January 29, 2024, in a letter to the members of the newly formed organization, he responded to the widespread call for his leadership, stating, “I must, in truth, confess that there are requests that duty compels one to accept, lest one commits betrayal. Many of you, individually or collectively, have asked me to take my share of responsibility by continuing beyond just the entry point in the process of solidifying this important edifice that we have built together.

As Tawamba takes the helm of Gecam, numerous legal challenges initiated by members of Gicam opposed to the merger, which resulted in Gecam’s creation, are still pending in court.

Source: Business in Cameroon