Thirty Years In Power and Biya’s Mission Unaccomplished
November 6, 2012 | 0 Comments
-What the Cameroonleader could do to beef up a porous legacy
As the world watches with keen attention the hotly contested elections between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, President Biya is celebrating thirty years in power. It is no mean feat considering that there are only about three leaders in the world today who hold a similar record. His partisans may be in celebration but many Cameroonians will agree that short of outright failure, the thirty years would have been a lot better. Without weighing in on the debate, since President Biya is still in the second year of his current seven year mandate, it is not too late for him to bolster his legacy with a number of reforms.
First, he should take the lead in ensuring that the next Parliamentary and Municipal elections are fair.The President has on numerous occasions prided himself in making Cameroon an oasis of peace in a troubled sub region. Well one of the biggest threat to that peace remains elections. For all his years in power, credible elections have been abundantly short. Few are those who take the current electoral body Elecam serious. Beginning with the next elections, Biya should vouch for transparency beginning with the ruling CPDM and then extending it nationwide. Let the CPDM sweat for its victories instead of using the administration and outright rigging that has tarnished its victories.
No one will deny the fact that corruption has thrived abundantly under President Biya.When quizzed about corruption some years back, he asked for proves, today there is an entire government in prison purportedly for corruption. There is little proof that the arrest of high profile personalities is doing anything to curb corruption. If the President is serious about fighting corruption, how about starting with article 62 of the 1996 constitutions which calls for state officials to declare their assets? Personalities arrested and jailed arbitrarily, a judiciary that takes forever to render justice, Cameroonians in the dark as to restitution if any. The current crusade neither serves as a deterrent nor does it render justice. Understandably fighting corruption under the current regime is like casting the biblical first stone, who exactly has not done something fishing while serving in government?
Looking at the unemployment numbers, there is nothing for President Biya to be proud of his thirty years. In terms of brilliance and share talent, Cameroonians have it but the opportunity is always denied them. From artists like Richard Bona, to talented soccer players like Samuel Eto’o playing in the best clubs in Europe. From computer gurus, to medical doctors, engineers etc, Cameroon should not envy any other country, but for all its potential, Cameroon remains way behind countries like Ghana and even Gabon. The President could make the investment climate more friendly, dismantle the bureaucracy at the port in Douala and launch a charm offensive towards the Cameroon Diaspora.
As serious as it is, President Biya has treated the Southern Cameroons problem with scornful levity. Unfortunately it is not one of those problems that can be wished away, it is not one of those problems that human rights violations will lay to rest, it is not one of those problems where bribing, leaders and creating factions is going to stem. It is about historical realities that no attempts at falsification can serve as a solution. When the President with arrogance changes the name of country as he did in 1984, it is a problem, when he abandons the Limbe deep sea port and out of the blues focuses on Kribi, people see the injustice. When the promise to tar the ring remains fallow decades after it was initiated, it is an issue. The absence of credible leadership and the numerous factions singing discordant choruses to the same song should not delude anyone about the seriousness of this problem: It is a ticking time bomb
At the sunset of his long stay in power, President Biya should look back in retrospect at how it started. It is just not normal that the remains of the man who voluntarily handed power to him on the Nov 6 1982 should continue to rot in Senegal. There was every reason for President Biya to feel rancorous after the 1984 coup, but his predecessor died since 1989, and should the devout catholic that Biya is not turn the chapter by facilitating the return of his remains?
If someone had told Cameroonians around 1984, that ten to twenty years later, they will look with nostalgia at the Ahidjo years, it would have been considered a joke.Biya has done little to earn the respect and trust of the people in thirty years but there is still plenty he can do catch up. All it takes is the will and the backbone, can he show Cameroonians he has one .He has been lucky to be a leader inCameroon where anything goes. With his style of leadership he will not survive two terms as Governor in a country likeNigeria where there is more political heat.
The odds are heavily deem that the Biya Cameroonians have known for the last thirty years will do the above but since when was it wrong to nurse hopes that even in the darkest of prospects? By the way has the thirty years of Biya not been full of surprises? A leader who understands and knows the weaknesses of Cameroonians more than Cameroonians know him? A leader who has preyed on the weaknesses of his peoples his friends and foes? Who would have thought in 1982 that he will still be in power today? In 1992 that the revolution will not topple him? Every story has its ending and Biya has to decide how he wants his to end for better or for worst.
Living in Denial: Sweden and the slave trade
October 16, 2012 | 21 Comments
Sweden is the country which is neutral, open-minded and anti-racist, if not in reality, at least in its self-image. Gustav lll, Queen Kristina, Axel Oxenstierna and Luis de Geer are known as national heroes. They were either royalty or intellectuals and extremely wealthy. Little do the Swedish people know that these heroes were the frontier concerning Sweden’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade.
I was only twelve when I read the information provided at Cape Coast Castle. After a second my stomach ached. I read it over and over again to make sure I was not imagining it. Overall, the sign said that Swedes built Cape Coast Castle, that Sweden colonised a part of which is today present-day Ghana and that Sweden was one of the main providers of iron during the transatlantic slave trade. I questioned the facts and asked the tour guide as this was information I had not read about at school and he confirmed what I was dreading. Every step I took in the slave fort and every shackle I saw I started to think of why this information had been withheld from me in Sweden.
After the flight back to Sweden I gathered my pictures from Cape Coast Castle, prepared a presentation and went with uneasy steps to school because I felt that I had a mission to spread this information but simultaneously I felt that I would confront defiance. My intuition was correct as my teacher disregarded the information I had gathered and claimed that it was false and therefore there was no point of holding a presentation about this subject at school. In that moment my teacher made me neglect my past and surpass the reasoning that the racism I faced at school and other parts of society actually was deep-rooted and intertwined with our past.
In due time, I have realised that Sweden’s involvement in the slave trade was more complicated than I had previously comprehended. Up until the 9th of October 1847 Sweden had a colony in the West Indies called Saint-Berthélemy where there were thousands of slaves. When Gustav lll was asked to end slavery in the beginning of the 19th century by Great Britain where the abolitionist movement had grown strong the Swedish king firmly neglected that Sweden had had any participation in having slaves. This denial has lived to our days in Sweden as well on the former Swedish colony Saint-Berthélemy.
Our school books in Sweden mention the presumed Swedish heroes but the significant part of the slave trade is surpassed. Queen Kristina is recognised as a woman who was raised as a man to be able to rule Sweden but who despite this chooses to convert and abdicate. She is not recognised as, together with Luis de Geer, being an initiator for Sweden taking on slaves. Louis de Geer is not known for this initiative either, instead he is solely known as a merchant and industrialist. Axel Oxenstierna, a friend of Louis de Geer, was famous for being Queen Kristina’s confidant but it is not mentioned that he received four slaves as a gift from Luis de Geer. Gustav lll, the Swedish king, who not to mention bought Saint-Berthélemy in 1784 with the intention to trade slaves and other goods connected with the transatlantic slave trade.
In the former Swedish colony Saint-Berthélemy the ignorance on this particular part of history is just as immense. Most of the inhabitants on the island do not know that their ancestors were slaves as this is not taught of school. This denial is prominent on the island as well in Sweden. This denial has left Swedes to believe that racism does not exist in Sweden as Sweden “does not” have a colonial past. This denial has led to having a careless attitude towards malicious images of black people and derogatory words as the Swedish people generally have a hard time realising what is racist. Racism has been presented as something a few crazy people believe in and support and by that Swedes can comfortably close their eyes to the structural racism which dictates everyday life.
Introducing Afro -Swedish Perspectives
October 11, 2012 | 2 Comments
Hello Readers, Greetings and welcome to my new blog Afro-Swedish Perspectives. My name is Charlene Rosander. I grew up in the south of Sweden in a town called Malmö where I still live today. My mum is from Ghana and I define myself as an Afro-Swede as Ghana and Swedenare the places I’m culturally from and it forms a sense of belonging amongst Africans in Sweden. My definition is less complicated than my heritage. My Grand Father was actually Lebanese but he was born and raised in Ghana and my Grand Mother is Ghanaian. My Mum, Aunt and Grand Mum live with me in Malmö. Every now and then we go to Ghanato stay with my Uncles in Achimota in Accra.
I have a Teacher’s Degree but I’ve also studied International Migration and Ethnic Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies, English and Project Management. Currently I work at a high school as a Student Assistant. My work is very rewarding as I get to guide the students along the right path, motivate them and help them throughout their studies without needing to grade them.
My heart and soul is with my students but I’m simultaneously torn as I burn equally for combating racism, especially racism towards people of African descent. This is not solely because of my descent as I also feel the need to focus especially on this group as racism is widespread towards this group without necessarily being acknowledged, especially in Sweden.
I’m part of an organization called Pan-African Movement for Justice which is an organization based in Sweden which works with creating awareness and acknowledgement of the situation for people of African descent. We also try to mobilize people with African descent acrossSweden, Europe,Americaand hopefully the rest of the world in due time. We want us to stand together and react on injustices.
Still in 2012 we find malicious images, caricatures, of black people in art and culture; black people are still being harassed and looked down upon simply due to colour. This is something I feel I need to address and fight against which I do through Pan-African Movement for Justice by being part of a project called Café Pan-Africa Malmö where we meet once a week and discuss issues concerning black people. When needed we also take action by for example writing articles and empowering ourselves with education which can be implemented practically. Recently, I and two colleagues went to Warszawa to the OSCE, ODIHR to learn how to combat Hate Crimes towards people of African descent.
I’ll be able to contribute to PAV-www.panafricanvisions.com, by sharing incidents happening in Sweden, and other parts ofEurope, towards people of African descent. I will let you in on my thoughts as a mixed young woman from Ghana living in Sweden and I will also let you in on our struggle inSwedenandEuropefor a society where we are all truly equal. I believe that there is such a time otherwise I wouldn’t have all this energy to spare. The struggle goes on. Check on my blog and feel welcome to share your thoughts as well!!
Nigeria: Why Churches Are Target of Bombings – Police
June 30, 2012 | 0 Comments
By Chika Otuchikere*
The Nigerian Police have given reason why places of worship have become the main targets of bombing attacks in the country.
According to a release by the Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, most churches have limited protective measures and do not demand any means of identification before worshippers are allowed in.
Mba said the acting Inspector General of Police Mohammed Abubakar has recommended to churches and mosques in the country to institute standard security committees to work with the Police in protecting members against attacks.
According to Mba who said members of the committee should be comprised of volunteers with impeccable background and passion for the safety of fellow worshippers stressed that the background check on the proposed members would be necessary to prevent infiltration by ‘enemies’
Mba named absence of physical security gadgets such as Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras as another factor making them to become ‘soft targets’ to criminal elements.
“Churches and mosques are safe heavens and sanctuaries for worshiping and experiencing God’s love, mercy and grace. They are hallowed places and somewhat immune from the troubles, conflicts and violence of the world, including wars.
“However, recent events in Nigeria and other parts of the world, particularly the serial attacks on churches in some parts of the country, appear to have fundamentally altered this age-long view.”
“Churches and mosques provide a pool of large crowd. Consequently, the possibility of mass casualty in the event of an attack is high. This is a big attraction for terror groups.
“Any attack on a place of worship is considered sacrilegious. It will, therefore, elicit mass condemnation and extensive media coverage. Terror groups savour such free and elaborate coverage.
“Because of the sensitive nature of religion, an attack on a church or mosque can easily provoke hatred, suspicion and reprisals amongst the various religious groups.
“When that happens, there could be breakdown of law and order. Such state of lawlessness, even if temporary, fitted into the desire of terrorist organisations.”
The IG also recommended to officials of places of worship, to carry out what he termed “risk assessment and vulnerability surveys” which he said will determine the risk they were exposed to.
According to him, factors to be considered in such assessment should include location, analysis of their neighbourhood demography, size and architectural design, population and access roads.
He advised leaders of Churches and Mosques to consider erecting barriers to keep human and vehicular traffic away from designated areas.
“One of the most effective ways of preventing suicide bombing is to isolate the suicide bomber to himself and prevent him from reaching his targeted audience. Churches and Mosques officials are advised to make conscious efforts to know their members. This will make it easier for them to spot and identify strangers and intruders.
“Churches and Mosques in restive areas must avoid the temptation of isolating themselves from the public or their host community. They must avoid the ‘fortress mentality.
“There is need for perimeter fencing of all places of worship to prevent invaders from gaining cheap access, especially during prayers/services,” he said.
The police boss encouraged officials of churches and mosques to build strong relationship with local police and other security agencies to encourage seamless flow of information.
*Courtesy of AllAfrica.com
Marafa May Have Jump Started The National Conference
June 13, 2012 | 0 Comments
At the dawn of the 90s, when the bloody launching of the SDF set off the democratization process in Cameroon, a National Conference was viewed as the panacea for a new direction for the country. The clamour for the National Conference was backed by the all powerful National Coordination of opposition parties, it was backed by the civil society, and the private media buoyed by exciting political developments amply articulated the case made by proponents of this forum. The response from President was “sans objet”, a National Conference will serve no purpose is a loose translation of his laconic response.
His response could be understood because in the Republic of Benin, where the first National Conference took place in the continent, President Kerekou sat helpless and
watched as he was stripped of all the dictatorial powers he had. The experience in Zaire now the DR.Congo had not gone well at all for President Mobutu. In lieu of the National Conference, President Biya organized the Tripartite Talks which did little to address the concerns of change thirsty Cameroonians. Over two decades later, there is every indication that Cameroon needs that National Conference more than ever before. Infact the urgency becomes fiercer considering the subtle viciousness of the raging succession battle within the ruling establishment which is overheating the polity. A lot of ink has flowed since the arrest of former Prime Minister Ephraim Inoni and former Territorial Administration Minister and Politburo member of the CPDM Marafa Hamidou Yaya. In a couple of letters Marafa by fate or by design may have finally jump started the National Conference.
Whereas the other high profile detainees have largely remained silent, Marafa has put the regime in panic mood with embarrassing revelations contained in letters that have left the country only yearning for more .As the country watches in awe, as the CPDM is pinned to the wall unable to defend their Party Chairman cum Head of State, as the SDF joins the fray providing a high profile team of legal advisers to defend Marafa, and with the CPDM dominated parliament reportedly backing a demand for a commission of enquiry into kickbacks paid to former Minister of Transport and now Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma as revealed in one of Marafa’s letters, the former Secretary General at the Presidency and Minister of Territorial Administration may have launched that National Conference.
There may be no reason to believe everything Marafa says , but if the Government and the ruling party are running helter skelter, then there should be elements of truth. That the ruling establishment is unable to articulate a coherent response can only add up to guilt. Rather than answer the charges , the regime thinks casting doubts on Marafa’s character and vaulting ambition will sweep the issues under the rug. But what about the facts he has used in making his arguments? Why has the regime not provided facts to the contrary? Issues raised by Marafa have bordered on his doubts on the ability of ELECAM to organize free elections, advise to Biya to step down, instances of corruption brought to the attention of the head of state, his opposition to violent crackdowns in Douala et al. Most of these issues would probably never have occured had the National Conference taken place to lay a strong foundation for a country serious on meeting 21st century challenges.
A National Conference will possibly have vouch for separation of powers with checks and balances. It may have made it possible to have strong institutions instead of a strong man in power. It would likely have come up with the kind of electoral reforms that will make Cameroon the envy of other countries. The CPDM backed Biya in rejecting in. It possibly would have come up with reforms that would have quelled the institutionalization of corruption. Today there is a whole government in jail for crimes not clearly spelt out, with facts that are hazy though no one doubts the magnitude of corruption within the regime. It never took place and the result is a faulty constitution whose provisions have never been fully implemented since 1996. It never took place and since 1990, Cameroon has not known a single election that is free and fair election.
The National conference may have addressed concerns of Southern Cameroonians who have since continued to be humiliated and stretched and now want nothing but a restoration of their statehood.
Hard to make an exhaustive list of what a National Conference will have addressed but it is right to say the issues have been multiplied many fold. Even President Biya and his CPDM who “saw no merit” may rethink their stance if the clock could be turned backwards. While his collaborators in jail must have tasted the poison they helped serve Cameroonians, the President cuts a pathetic figure. In power for circa thirty years is Mr Biya proud of his legacy as it stands today?
For the National Conference, dialogue or whatever it is called to be successful, people must speak their minds, people must unburden secrets, people must be ready to listen and as hard as it might be forgive. Marafa has fingered Issa Tchiroma, Fame Ndongo and even the President himself. In the absence of a formal gathering, his letters serve a purpose. Cameroonians may love to know about election rigging and its techniques, there will love to know how proceeds from oil were managed when he was Chair of the National Hydrocarbons Company. How about shedding light on the operational command in Douala? What if someone tells us what really happened to money contributed by Cameroonians during the Coup de Coeur for the upkeep of the embattled lions ate the 1992? How about Minister Fame Ndongo answer the charge from Marafa on his role in siphoning funds for some bogus satellite program at CRTV? Already former CPDM Central Committee Member Chief Milla Assoute is adding flesh to the corruption charge levied against Issa Tchiroma for on a contract for the maintenance of Cameroon Airline planes in the mid nineties.
While it is laudable that the SDF is pushing for a Commission of Enquiry on the compensation of victims of the 1995 plane crash, one must ask why the MPs of the leading opposition party did not ask for one on the Albatross, or for one to review the modus operandi of Sparrow Hawk. Hopefully Marafa’s barbs can fire up others within the ruling party, the opposition, civil society, the progressive forces in the Diaspora et al to step up the fight for change. The country needs that National Conference or some genuine form of National dialogue. On it may depend whether the country makes or mars. On it depends genuine reconciliation because beyond the façade of peace lies a badly fragmented polity. Genuine reconciliation starts with dialogue, shedding light on issues not to reopen old wounds but to better understand each other and chart a better way forward. From the 1984 coup, the repatriation of the remains of former President Ahidjo, national recognition of heroes of the independence struggle like Roland Moumie, Ernest Ouandie, etc. South Africa had its truth and reconciliation with sordid tales that hurt but helped to heal the wounds of apartheid. Nigeria after Abacha tried the something similar. Cameroon needs its own and Marafa’s missives though inadvertently may be leading the country towards this ultimate eventuality.
Charles Taylor Bags Fifty Years: Justice served? Join the Debate and Share Your Thoughts
June 5, 2012 | 0 Comments
Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor who was the 22nd President of Liberia, serving from 2 August 1997 until his resignation on 11 August 2003 was recently slammed a 50 year jail sentence by the International Criminal Court. Considering his role in the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone and the flagrant human rights abuses that took place, was justice
served? Mr Taylor aged 64 is the first African leader found guilty of war crimes by an international tribunal and his sentencing came shortly before the tenth anniversary of the International Criminal Court. The price tag of Taylor’s trial is estimated at a staggering $50 million. How many classrooms, hospitals, roads, bridges, etc could this amount help build in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Justice may not have a price but is spending that money on the trial of one man be it Charles Taylor a misplaced priority?
Is the Court placing so much emphasis on Africa with the pending trial of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, and the arrest warrant on Sudanese Leader Omar El Bashir making some to think the ICC may have a hidden agenda? Join the debate and share your thoughts. Readers should keep the discussion civil and void of any profane language.
SDF AT 22: The Party Infront Of A Mirror
May 29, 2012 | 0 Comments
Launched on May 26 1990 in Bamenda with six innocent souls paying the supreme price, the Social Democratic Front has been in the thick and thin of the democratization process in Cameroon. There is just no way the history of modern day politics in Cameroon can be complete without the role played by the SDF in standing up to President Biya and the CPDM in the early 90s. From the mammoth rallies across the country, to the heroism of John Fru Ndi, the vibrant National Executive Committee meetings, the SDF was a party with a class apart. Real and imagined tales of bravery catapulted its Chairman John Fru Ndi from a bookseller to the defacto President of Cameroon. What he said was the equivalent of law. “Le Chairman a dis que” was the word in Douala, Bafoussam, Mbouda and other major towns in East Cameroon. “Chairman don talk say” to adepts of Pidgin English in Bamenda, Kumba, Limbe etc. Few are those who thought the CPDM will survive the raging momentum of the SDF.Indeed there are many who believe that the SDF leader and Union for Change Candidate John Fru Ndi actually won the elections of 1992. Today that SDF is a very pale shadow of its former self. Gone is the enthusiasm it generated .has tremendously evaporated, the clout and charisma of Chairman Fru Ndi has waned, turn out at rallies is a far cry from what it was in the 90s, emblematic lieutenants of the party have either left or been forced out of the party and many Cameroonians now doubt the potential of the SDF as a credible alternative to the CPDM.
As the party clocks 22 and with the critical nature of the times, the SDF needs to go back to the fundamentals that militated for its creation in the first place. For a party which led the opposition in Cameroon with brio, the party needs to step up its game again. From 47 MPS at the elections of 1997, the SDF has seen its membership drop to 22 in 2004 and even lower today. Scores registered by its candidate in the elections of 2004 and 2011 are a far cry from what the party obtained in 1992. It is common knowledge that the ruling CPDM owes its successive victories to flawed elections but that should not be any reason to underscore the fact there is something profoundly wrong in the SDF.It may be a challenge the CPDM may not risk but are there any certainties that the SDF as it stands now will record significant victories if there was a level playing field?
Despite the fraud that characterizes elections, been in the opposition requires that a serious party makes a credible case against the ruling party. It requires that the opposition draws a sharp contrast from the party in power with its vision, choice of leadership, choice of candidates, modus operandi et al. It is not enough to point to the blatant corruption, the absence of democratic progress, the lack of infrastructure and the endless litany of short comings of the ruling CPDM and imagine that Cameroonians even in free and fair elections will automatically vote you in. The electorate, Cameroonians are more politically educated than there were in the 90s when the SDF was created and will not just vote the party or its candidates just because the CPDM must be replaced. Has the SDF led by example? Has the SDF proven beyond reasonable doubt that in power it will govern better than the CPDM? Has the SDF made a convincing case to Cameroonians that if given power it will be accountable or will be able to hold office holders accountable? The answers to these and many are blowing in the wind.
Since the party was created in 1990, it has been led by Mr John Fru Ndi. The CPDM has been led by Mr Biya, the CDU by Ndam Njoya, the UNDP by Bello Bouba Maigari. If within your own party, you cannot change leadership why should the CPDM be in a haste to change its own leader? As cynical as this may sound, it is actually an argument the CPDM makes. Granted the SDF continues to hold conventions, but should a party leader not think of passing the relay baton for someone else to continue the fight or lead the party in a different way that might produce better results? Can the party not present a different member as a candidate for Presidential elections who is not the Chairman?A few years back, the party was torn apart in a debate on how to invest candidates for future elections. While some influential militants wanted the creation of an independent investiture committee, partisans of the Chairman will not hear anything of it. Their argument been that the independent investiture committee will emasculate the influence the Chair has in the party.
It is important for people to be loyal to a leader but when that loyalty is at odds with the values of the party, it becomes a problem. If the SDF is unwilling to create an independent investiture committee that will serve as a neutral umpire in the selection of potential office holders, why would the CPDM government give in to calls for the creation of a truly independent electoral commission in the country?
Corruption remains rife in the country and many have argued and rightly so that if the implementation of Article 66 which requires Office holders to declare their assets prior to assuming and leaving office is the threshold of any meaningful fight. For obvious reasons, the CPDM government is not hot at all about implementing the clause. On the other hand the SDF could show Cameroonians about its seriousness to govern seriously by requiring its top leadership as well as Mayors and MPs to declare their assets. The party even has a shadow cabinet. The only known SDF MP who declared his assets is Hon Jean Michel Nintcheu. It was exciting when news circulated some time back that the Chairman was going to declare his assets, but disappointing that he backed down saying that he is not a government official and nothing mandates him to declare his assets.Fair enough, but does the symbolic gesture of declaring your assets not draw a contrast in the eyes of Cameroonians between you and the sitting President people are disappointed in?
No organization can thrive in indiscipline. When Ben Muna was axed from NEC in the 90s, it did not bother anyone, then came Siga Assanga, and many others. Far from serving as instrument to maintain discipline in the party, the dreaded Article 8:2 became a weapon to settle scores and purge the party of real and perceived enemies of the leadership. The result is that the party’s NEC is hollow today. No offense to those who constitute its membership today but who can deny the fact that since the departure of cadres like Akonteh, Nyo Wakai, Asonganyi, late Dr Tchenkwo, and others, the party has lost a lot of vibrancy? Where are those strong communiqués that used to come from the Secretariat? Why is the party not taking stronger positions on issues like corruption? It is not enough to make press utterances and throw verbal punches at Biya for arresting state officials. If the SDF was in power, how will it handle issues of corruption? On what basis is the party putting its Lawyers to defend Marafa and for what crimes exactly? So if there is tangible proof that indeed Marafa has tainted hands, will the SDF seek to help him prove the contrary?
It is a good thing to know the party is in dialogue with other opposition parties and has been holding several meetings. It may be no point crying over spilt milk but one cannot help wishing that such dialogue had taken place prior to the 2011 elections. For diverse reasons, there is a lot of mutual distrust amongst the political leaders. The SDF by virtue of its size and historic importance needs to take the lead in bringing together the opposition. The opposition has aided Biya so much with the divisions, suspicions, and the war of egos between its leaders. In 1992, the Union For Change settled on Mr Fru Ndi as a candidate. People may argue that in 2004 and 2011, the SDF leader emerged second in the Presidential elections. You run for elections to win and not to emerge as runners up. In the supreme interest of change in Cameroon, would it be more productive for the Chairman to be the king maker and rally people to stand by someone other than himself who has the potential to win or to run for elections and continue to be placed second?
After 22 years of existence, it is time for the party to do some soul searching. It is time to ask hard questions which will help get the party back on the rails. Of all the Founding fathers, only Mr Fru Ndi and Aloysius Tebo are still actively involved. It does not help the party when grievances aired by other Founding fathers from the late Albert Mukong, to late Dr Ngwasiri, Siga Assanga etc are not taken seriously. It does not help the party when proposals from brilliant minds like Justice Nyo Wakai are not taken seriously. It certainly does not help when committed, effective, and hardworking cadres like Akonteh, Paulinus Jua, and Prof Asonganyi are rewarded with shabby treatment from party hawks.
22 years at the helm of the party is way too long and if he is not thinking about it Chairman Fru Ndi has to start thinking about it. The party needs new blood; it needs people with a fresh perspective. Such people are not lacking in the party, Hon Nintcheu, Tchinda Fobi, Vice Chairman Joshua Osih etc . The party needs to seek reconciliation, genuine reconciliation with disgruntled militants so they can come back to the fold. Fortunately there is a Convention coming up. It will be the ideal opportunity for the SDF to start its reformation. Simple proposals for consideration could be limitations to the mandates of elected party officials and candidates for public office, mandating all elected
officials to declare their assets, publication of party accounts on a yearly basis, creating an independent investiture committee for the vetting and selection of party officials in a way that reflects the equal opportunity that the SDF stands for etc. The SDF remains a source of hope for many. Despite its short comings, it continues to be the leading opposition party in the country. The stumbling blocks have been many, the frustrations have been plenty. From the blood of innocent souls like Evaristus Toje, Juliet Sikod and others killed at the launching of May 26 1990, to the maiming of protesters in Bamenda, the controversial elections of 1992, the victimization of countless militants etc, the adversities have been enormous.
Curiously the dwindling fortunes of the party seem to emanate more from a disappointment in the way the party has been managed and less of the road blocks created by the regime. After all the party braved road blocks to be launched, the party braved road blocks to win elections in major cities in 1996, the party has braved road blocks to win elections over and over in a place like Kumba.Just as Biya is challenged to beef up his legacy, Chairman Fru Ndi must be urged to work on his. After providing courageous leadership in the early 90s, the Chairman must ensure that the party gets back on track with sound democratic principles, and a potential to lead Cameroon better than the CPDM has.
What Operation “Epervier’ Tells Us About The CPDM
May 22, 2012 | 0 Comments
Ruling Party Needs Profound Reforms to Survive Post Biya Era
The operation sparrow hawk better known by its French acronym Epervier continues to claim high profile victims. Friends and foes of Paul Biya are among the high profile prisoners detained at the maximum security prison in Kondengui. There is palpable fear within the ranks of sitting and former state officials .Who is next is the murmur amongst them in private despite public praise for the President for adding teeth to the fight against corruption with the arrests of close collaborators.
From Mounchipou Seidou former Minister of Posts and Telecommunications and Pierre Desire Engo of the National Social Insurance Fund in 1997, the list has evolved considerably. In jail now are three former Secretary Generals at the Presidency of the Republic, Titus Edzoa, Atangana Mebara, and Marafa Hamidou Yaya. A former Prime Minister in Chief Ephraim Inoni, a Minister of Health in Olanguena Awono, a Minister of Economy and Finance, Polycarpe Abah Abah. Also in jail are heads of top state cooperation like Yves Michel Fotso of Camair, Emmanuel Ondo Ndong of Feicom, Roger Belinga of SIC etc. It is no cynicism when people say what is lacking to form a whole government in Kondengui is a President.
Besides occupying very high state functions, a common denominator in all of these folks is that they are all militants of the ruling Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement-CPDM. I talk here in the present tense because none of them has relinquished their membership of the ruling party maybe with the exception of Titus Edzoa. Virtually all of them were members of the Central Committee of the ruling party. Pierre Desire Engo was a member of the all powerful political bureau of the party. So too is Marafa Hamidou Yaya confirmed even at the CPDM Congress of last year. Think about those delegations the CPDM composes with great pomposity for party activities in the field? The folks in jail were permanent fixtures on those lists.
So what does epervier tell us about the CPDM? It only reinforces the narrative that it is a sanctuary per excellence of folks who get rich quick at the expense of Cameroonians .People identify with the party not because of any ideology it represents but because it not only offers you a passport to unbridled riches but also shields you from criminal persecution. You want to obtain funds for a contract and go scot free without executing the contract? Join the CPDM.You want be considered for plum jobs in the country without qualification and where you will not rated on performance , join the party. You want promotion even when you do not deserve one based on your output? Join the party. Everyday folks like myself who irk it out to survive daily know that rightly or wrongly the party is associated with all vices imaginable in the country.
Since its creation in 1984, the party has held just about four congresses. President Biya who has led the party since its creation did not even bother to get a formal endorsement for the party to run for Presidential elections in 2004. He is not known to use his office at the party headquarters. I wonder if any Cameroonian has ever seen him with a party muffler on his neck, a party T-shirt, uniform or cap at any public event. For some reason, the President seems to keep the party at arm’s length. There is little tolerance for dissent within the party.
Ahead of the 1997 elections, attempts by the late Victor Ayissi Mvodo to challenge Biya were not viewed kindly at all and he was forced to back down from his ambitions. In 2004, Chief Milla Assoute and his progressive movement severely jolted the party. Determined to challenge Biya at the party’s primary, Chief Assoute was not given the opportunity to do so.The party had no convention and Biya was proclaimed its automatic candidate.
A man like Gerard Ondo Ndong will remind people that some of the money he is accused of embezzling was used in financing party activities. The same will go for all the detained CPDM top shots who will tell you how much there have spent for the financial upkeep of various party activities. There is the perception that the line between the public treasury and that of the CPDM is blurry. Service cars, fuel and staff are used for party activities. The President can afford to call for elections in the heart of the raining season and it will be of minimal inconvenience to the CPDM because its cadres have access to all terrain service cars there will use at the expense of the tax payer.
There is a strong school of thought which believes the travails of Mebara, Marafa, Inoni and co are politically motivated. Maybe the CPDM Party Leader and President should be given a modicum of seriousness. It could be he is bent on getting serious in the fight against corruption .He did indicate in his speech at the last party congress that epervier will not only continue with greater vigour but will know no sacred cows. If it is about beefing up a legacy that does not reflect the multiple decades he and the party have been in power, the President needs to more. How about implementing constitutional provisions like Article 66 which calls on top state functionaries to declare their assets prior to assuming and relinquishing office? That remains the single most efficient tool that will tell those in his party and in the country that he is bent on getting serious.
Will the party survive a post Biya era? It will be tough for the party to say the least. The crushing majorities the party has at the Assembly and in the Councils are a product of flawed elections. Besides the treasury at its disposal, the party relies heavily on MINAT and its field agents in the DO’s. President Biya has been the towering federating figure. In his absence the party may break into unrecognizable fragments. If the subtle succession battles have been this vicious with Biya still around, God alone knows what will become of the party when he is not there. Despite vituperations from young turks like Ateba Eyene and the dynamic Mayor of Buea Mbella Moki Charles who may well represent the future of the party, at the decision making level their influence is minimal and their cries for reforms are drawn in the wilderness.
If at a time when the opposition is almost inexistent, the CPDM with all its advantages still needs to rely on flawed elections, it speaks volumes. Why would a party whose candidate has won elections with circa 80% in the last couple of elections be shy about accepting the inclusion of a two round ballot in the electoral code? If the CPDM is so sure of itself why will it not militate for the creation of a truly independent electoral commission that will give its “victories” greater credibility or why would the party not vouch for electoral reforms that the party is clamouring for? The epervier will end up at best a smoke screen for any genuine all out fight against corruption will crumble the party like a house of cards.
If the party will survive a post Biya era, it needs a revolt from the base. Militants at the grassroots, genuine militants who believe in what the party stands for must elect leaders they believe in and not those money bags so often imposed by the party hierarchy. A few years back, veteran footballer Abega Theophile humiliated National Assembly Vice President Nicholas Amougou Noma at the party’s primary to pick a parliamentary candidate and his victory was over turned. Tales of this nature are rife within the party. Grassroots militants need to take the bull by the horns choose leaders who are credible from the base to top and learn to toil hard for campaign victories .There will be a day when Biya will not be there , there will be a day when the agents of MINAT will not be there to help facilitate their victories, there will be a day when the Electoral Commission will not just be an appendage of the party .This is a reality that needs to sink into the psyche of people who whole heartedly believe in the party and its vision for Cameroon.
Marafa Sings The Blues
May 22, 2012 | 0 Comments
Belated Resignation Letter and Vision For Cameroon
He was the all powerful Minister of Territorial Administration after a stint in another powerful office as Secretary General of the Presidency. He is still a member of the Political Bureau of the ruling Cameroon Peoples Democratic Movement –CPDM. Such solid credentials and his Peul Aristocratic background made him frequently cited as a potential successor to President Paul Biya. Unlike others who mask their ambitions; Marafa had the tenacity to tell Diplomats as wikileaks capable reveal that indeed he had Presidential ambitions. Cited here and there in the Albatross affair, Marafa had harsh words for operation sparrow hawk which had seen the incarceration of high profile state personalities. The operation he said had political undertones and he himself could be a potential victim. How prophetic those words were as today, Marafa is amongst the latest barons of the regime to be flung behind bars.
Unlike others who have remain mute, barely a few weeks after his arrest, Marafa is firing salvos which put President Biya the man he claims to have served with the greatest devotion in a very uncomfortable posture. First he dismissed the competence of the Judge assigned to his case. Pascal Magnaguemabé the Judge assigned to most of the Sparrow Hawk cases harbours a grudge against him for a refusal to help advance his career Marafa says. Hardly had the dust settled on this when Marafa fired another missive this time an open letter to President Paul Biya which offered insight into the dog eat dog administration he served in for decades. Marafa amongst others reminds Biya of conversations he had with him from the bloated nature of the cabinet to candid advice that the mandate Biya got in 2004 should be his last. All should be done so he can step down in dignity and take a well deserved rest Marafa recalls telling Biya. Tired of the intrigues and back stabbing within government circles, Marafa cited instances where he had expressed the desire to be dropped from government only for Biya to turn down his request.
In the entire letter Marafa comes across as a dedicated statesman while subtly painting a perfect Machiavellian character of President Biya. Obviously questions come to mind. Why is Marafa making his case public now? Is it because he now has more faith in the court of public opinion than a spineless judiciary sustained by the regime he was an integral part of? The letter he wrote to Biya sounds like a belated letter of resignation. Was he really serious at all about resigning or just trying to test the wits of his boss? If Marafa was serious about resigning, why did he not follow the example of Garga Haman Adji? Why did he not do it like Maurice Kamto? These two are amongst the handful of Government Ministers known to have resigned from Office .No matter how hard he tries now; Marafa was part of a system that continues to hold the polity hostage. A prison system that is archaic, a judicial system that refuses to evolve with the times, a President who decides when it rains and when it suns and is worshiped more than a religion by those he considers Ministers and sub Ministers to paraphrase what he told Marafa when he raised concerns about the plethoric nature of the government.
It serves no purpose gloating over the misfortune of others but Marafa just like the other incarcerated barons of the regime are just getting a dose of the poison that average Cameroonians have been systematically fed with by the regime. A regime Marafa was until his arrest one of its pillars. No matter the sympathy anyone may have for Marafa and his unfortunate acolytes especially with the absence of a clear cut case, we must not forget that there are victims of a system perpetrated by them while in government. It is this system they worked for, it is this system they supported zealously when it served their interests. How many opposition rallies were broken? How many Cameroonians have been jailed and tortured for fighting against a system that goes nowhere near the edification of a modern state that meets 21st century challenges? How many elections were blatantly rigged?
No, even in the court of public opinion, Marafa’s case is heavily flawed .If it is equity he seeks by his missives, he may not get because he comes to it with dirty and heavily tainted hands. His latest missive possibly not the last one which talks about suggestions he made on electoral reforms and a vision he had for Cameroon does not get him much sympathy. He was part of the system; he was an architect of some of the most brazen electoral fraud that has taken place in the country. While in government there was nothing he did that remotely suggested that he is the martyr he tries to make himself now. Garga Haman Adji for instance stepped down as a matter of principle to join the Union of Change caravan in 1992. A tangible reason advanced by Garga then was the systematic blockage of corruption cases he had raised. Ayah Paul a CPDM MP raised hell for the party and publicly distanced himself from the ruling party when it forced through the constitutional amendment to decimate term limits in the constitution. In 1993, Justices Fombe, Epie and Fobellah risked the fury of the regime by throwing out a frivolous case initiated by the government against SDF militants after the October 1992 elections in Bamenda.
There is no tangible evidence showing anything Marafa did to stem the excesses of the regime. He was either not as brave as he wants Cameroonians to believe today, or had a self serving agenda to exploit the system in pursuit of his own ambitions.
In a working democracy, Marafa or anyone else will be free to further his ambitions to the highest levels possible, he will live in a country where there is a free and unfettered judiciary, where there is the presumption of innocence, where you do not have to be in jail for four years before a verdict is given on your case as is the case with Mebara. In a democracy power will not be concentrated in the hands of one all powerful person like Biya with impotent institutions like parliament serving as window dressing. It is this kind of society that Marafa and all the other arrested barons and those who are still in government consciously and unconsciously worked to entrench. The irony, is the ones in government do not seem to get the lesson. Yesterday it was former Minister of Environment Elvis Ngolle Ngolle talking about Biya as if he is a deity, today, there are reports he is under investigation. Who will be next?
Like many I hope Marafa keeps sending the letters. More of them especially with even greater revelations may eventually make his case better in the eyes of Cameroonians. As Chairman of the board of Directors of the all power National Hydrocarbon Companies, SNH, he probably has an idea about the way proceeds from country’s petroleum resources are used. How about he continues to set the record straight on how the government works? How about telling Cameroonians more about his role in the fraud? Even if this does not sway opinions, it will be what my catholic friends call confession; it may be a mea culpa of sorts to Cameroonians. For Marafa like most of his unfortunate colleagues owes Cameroonians a big apology for all the pain, the insensitivity, the greed, the misery, the stagnation and ….the list of grievances is endless.