By Tazoacha Asonganyi in Yaounde.
In the absence of clean policy and vision, the wheels of a political party can groan on monotonously, trudging along old paths and chewing the same cud over and over again. We surely are not strangers to motions of support and “the people’s call.” But the timing of this other bandwagon of “calls” to which many CPDM structures and barons are desperately trying to jump on, and take it over, is strange! The “calls” seem to be a calculated indiscretion meant to give out a little but important message to the rest of us.
The CPDM has been in a state of mental turmoil for quite some time now, aggravated by the fear of the unknown. It has been teetering on the edge of crisis, trying to keep up appearances, with no confident vision of the future in front of it. What we are witnessing now is just a symptom of alarm in the party, and of its God-sent leader. Only this can explain this other disingenuous manner of expressing what seems to be a long-laid devilish plan.
True, what appears as the same action, performed by several individuals in different places, may have a variety of different psychodynamic reasons and explanations. The “callers”may not necessarily be all willing follower; and some of the “calls” are talking of 2018, while others are talking of “the next” presidential election. Our take is that this is all about “the next” presidential election that may happen in 2018, or sooner.
One of the central purposes of spin-doctoring is to form public opinion before the act. Many politicians usually blame the press not only for its partiality, but also for its not checking and cross-checking information dished out to form public opinion. This is obviously the reason for the strong condemnation of journalists by Paul Ayah in a write-up he titled “journalist sans pareil” [a strange type of journalist]. All because, judging by the gesticulation of the CPDM and its hero, some journalists concluded that the signs are that the presidential election will be anticipated.
Ayah reminded them that the fundamental law of the land (the constitution) provides for anticipated presidential election only when the incumbent president dies, or steps down, or is declared by the constitutional council to be no longer capable of exercising his duties. He charged that since none of these was the case, the journalists were living in a dreamland. Fair enough: I think all of this would be true if we have an agreed basis for democracy in our country. But we do not.
Macky Sall, the Senegalese president, has committed himself to organizing a referendum in May 2016 to ask the Senegalese people to decide on his proposal to reduce the presidential term from 7 to 5 years. He says “if they (the people) say yes, the presidential election will take place in 2017 instead of 2019.”
This may have given Paul Biya an idea on how to “anticipate” the presidential election in Cameroon, especially because of the ease with which he removed the term-limit clause from the constitution in 2008. He must be reasoning that if he could so easily carry out such an operation that most of his peers are finding difficult to carry out, he can easily amend the constitution any time he wants, to reduce the presidential term in Cameroon from 7 to 5 years too (renewable once). His griots will easily argue that since it was the decision of the Tripartite Conference of the ‘90s, it is the wish of all Cameroonians. When it is done, he can then call a snap presidential election for October 2016 (instead of the October 2018 we are all focusing on).
Those trying to unfold this plan are arguing that he needs more time to finish “his” development projects. This is like taking all of us for the fools they have always wanted us to be. They forget that development is the perpetual struggle of humans to live a better life. A development project can never be finished to the extent that further development would no longer be necessary. As the philosopher would put it, the new is a question or problem; it is at once a result and a catalyst for step-by-step amelioration. The ludicrous deification of leadership given expression by the CNU/CPDM regimes for over half a century is a frightful aspect of human bondage that reduces human choices by freezing human ingenuity and passion.
In Cameroon, the governing system has been so screwed up that we regularly vote, but we do not elect. Abdoulaye Babale’s declaration that ELECAM’s role is to protect national institutions by blocking any transition at the summit of the state, only confirms what all of us have been saying!
This voting without electing has caused the people to slowly lose their pride, dignity, and self-belief. It has affected the nurturing of attitudes, behaviors and feelings of solidarity, and the cooperation and attachment to society that the election of leaders is supposed to nurture. It has blocked the development and practice of civic, social and emotional skills needed to make informed decisions in society. Indeed, it has subverted the use of elections to cultivate the soft skills of human capital needed to produce engaged, responsible citizens and their capacity to be, to know, to do, and to live together, as some would say. And so the pent up anger, and the explosion of violence that is slowly engulfing all of us!
Sycophants in the entourage of a leader can give him ideas, but since the leader is human like me and you, they always selects from a maze of ideas only those that assuage their ego and boost opinions that were already in their minds. This is true of Paul Biya. Like a Jacobin with trust in “le peuple” as the generic source of his actions, he knows fully well that he has been there for 30-some years because “le people” vote, but his regime elects him. He will go in for “another term” without the slightest fear of being humiliated at the polls like some of his peers. Abdoulaye Babale, there is no need to worry!
And so, as Paul Biya prepares to go in for another term chanting the slogan of “emergence,” he should remember that for the magic word to have relevance, it must be hinged on an implacable logic and an imperative of efficiency that can neither surrender to the “calls” of “le people,” nor to electoral favours, or bribery, or the arbitrariness of a political party incapable of looking reality in the face and taking the hard decisions that are necessary.
Those “opposition” people that will jump into the arena to give this other “call” of shame some respectability, or those that will claim that they will call its bluff, will no longer be a subject of bewilderment and ridicule. They all know that the regime can only be stopped through the streets, not the ballot box!