By Tazoacha Asonganyi Yaounde.
Human history has shown that authoritative rule invariably ends up in the backwardness of society, and invariably, in resistance. It is only all-inclusive, democratic rule that enjoys the adherence of all members of society, and releases their god-given talents and abilities, that produce what according to Alexis de Tocqueville, the ablest governments are usually unable to produce, namely, an all pervasive and restless activity, a superabundant force, an energy, that produce wonders – human and societal development; the feel good factor.
At every election, the CPDM is always asking for “comfortable” majorities, or “large” majorities. During the 2007 elections they went home with 267 of the 360 Council seats, and 153 of the 180 parliamentary seats. They used these majorities to set the rules in every domain of society; to define our basic rights; to limit the political possibilities of the “minority” – the opposition - in such a way that, using the rules, they would never get the chance of becoming the majority. They used their majority to avoid compromise and consensus on major societal issues, and at the least opportunity, they turned around and appealed for “harmony” and “peace”, which, invariably, only serve the selfish interests of the “majority”! Sometimes they enforce these using the brute force of the self-interested laws. Further, they use their “majority” to create outfits like the National Communication Council, and many others, which jump into the arena and play the game like blind boxers!
In any case, this is not my main concern here. There are some worrying issues that the CPDM campaign is presently raising with some of their actions and utterances.
First, there has been talk of the mass circulation of “fake” voters’ cards in Kumba. Later, it was revealed that they originated with Meme 1A Section president of CPDM and Mayor of Kumba 1 Council Area. This was a very important public issue. It is to the credit of many stakeholders that public sentiment was calmed because they recognized the importance of the demeanor, investigated it aggressively, and attributed blame accordingly. Political party members are identified by their party cards. The explanation that “barcode stickers” were established for use in identifying members of the CPDM during primaries in “Meme 1A” is frivolous. The deformation of voters’ cards with such stickers is a clear attempt to cause confusion and to continue to campaign even on Polling Day; it is an unacceptable effort to violate the consciences of the voters. If the barcodes are attached to tee-shirts, caskets and other accompaniments on Polling Day, they will have the same effect on onlookers like wearing the uniform of a political party on Polling Day would have. Therefore the so-called identity barcodes of the CPDM should not be allowed to be displayed on electors in any form on Polling Day. Further, any effort to get voters to exit with ballot papers of the “opposition” to surrender them with the identifying barcodes on them for remuneration would be nothing short of violation of the spirit of the secrecy of the ballot.
Second, contrary to what some CPDM members may think, the voter’s card, like currency notes, the national identity card and the passport, are national documents that can only be deformed at the peril of the deformer. The voter’s card is a symbol of the power of the people. The disrespect of the voters’ cards by deforming them with stickers is indicative of the value the deformers place on the document. Their giving the impression that the voter’s card is private property that can be sold, loaned and abused in all forms is a reflection of the mindset of a party that wins elections not because of the people but in spite of the people. Indeed, the man increasing considered as the president of the CPDM Cell in ELECAM has been causing confusion by giving the impression that those who want to, can ignore the voter’s card and vote with the national identity card alone, thus feigning ignorance of the effect it will have on the idea of the biometric system, and the problems that such a practice will cause to the electoral process on Polling Day.
Third, the Southern Cameroons considered reunification as an all-inclusive affair. Defining events like the All Party Conference in Mamfe in 1953, the various Constitutional Conferences, the multiparty legislative elections in 1957, 1959 and 1961, the multiple visits to the United Nations, the interactions in the Southern/West Cameroon(s) House of Assembly, the Mamfe plebiscite conference of 1959, the plebiscite of 1961, the All Party Bamenda Conference of 1961, and the Foumban Constitutional Conference of 1961, were all-inclusive events for the people of Southern Cameroons – they included the “opposition” and “governing” parties; they included all currents of opinion in the society. In doing this, Southern Cameroons leaders looked forward to an all-inclusive future in the new Cameroon they hoped for. Only those who understand the full dimension of this can nurture the spirit of reunification.
The present noises being heard about Tiko (the ‘gateway’ to Buea from Douala), and Buea (said to be readying to receive Paul Biya) with respect to the possibility of the “opposition” controlling those towns following the September 30 elections, and welcoming Biya to Buea, are strange noises that are a betrayal of this all-inclusive spirit of the reunification idea. The noises are an indication of how much Paul Biya and his party, the CPDM, have betrayed the reunification idea. The CPDM has had some thirty years during which they could have invited their leader to Buea or anywhere of their choice, and feasted with him in any manner of their choice. But to give the impression today that as a political party they can betray the reunification idea by giving the impression that those of the “opposition” belong to a different category as far as reunification is concerned, is not only treacherous and unpatriotic; it may strengthen the SCNC argument that the CPDM inspired law no.84-1 of February 4, 1984 abrogated the union, and turned the former Southern Cameroons into a territory colonized by the CPDM and its agents.
Fourth, part of the power of incumbency is the power to control events and make things happen: using large chunks of the state budget at will; using part of the national budget for campaigns by initiating projects during campaign time. These can be done using the "state’s pen" to sign decisions, as is being done for traditional rulers, Maroua University institutions, and other acts. But to abuse the public service and public property for party campaigns is gross abuse of power; to camouflage as Head of state and descend to the arena as a party leader would constitute a violation of the public trust. And if it is true that Aminatou Ahidjo was given 400 million FCFA to carry out campaigns for the CPDM, and yet the amount was not considered when 1.7 billion FCFA “from the public treasury” was being distributed to political parties, it would be tantamount to theft of public money by the CPDM.
Fifth, all development in Cameroon today seems to be hinged on what the CPDM calls “greater achievements” (or has it become “major accomplishments”?). This seems to have given way to (or produced) what they call Vision-2035 and the growth and employment strategy paper (GESP) which, they say, are products of an “all-inclusive stakeholder consultative process” – meaning that they belong to all Cameroonians. Yet, we still hear South West Chiefs and other CPDM sycophants claiming that “it is the CPDM that is capable of bringing meaningful development like roads, schools, hospitals, and infrastructure…” as if taxpayers’ money belongs to the CPDM! According to them, the CPDM will be with us (where they are!), until 2035 and beyond. I hope that they themselves believe this.
Virtues like peace, work, fatherland, that constitute the motto of Cameroon are not absolute; they are conditional on their satisfaction of other purposes, other aspirations, other yearnings. The essence of development is not just the human and natural resources available to a people, but how the resources are used. We are all members of the same society who happen to have different currents of thought; who happen to belong to different political parties or societal groupings. In the ongoing electoral campaigns, small ideas, small acts, small utterances will affect our thoughts and actions by the effect of the collisions they will cause in our minds. They will impact us with the perceptions they create. So far, the perceptions the CPDM seems to be leaving with us is that they abhor the biometric system of elections, and they can even desecrate the reunification spirit to win their “comfortable” majorities.