2018 Elections:”In Cameroon, change will never come from the polls but from a radical move” -Achille Mbembe
Archille Mbembé assesses the calamitous situation of BiyaIn a free forum published on the website of Jeune Afrique, the Cameroonian academic argues that change in Cameroon requires a radical reform of the shape of the state.
“While they had the opportunity to get rid of it once and for all, they would have chosen to let it tweak at their expense, for seven more years, a model of government characterized by inertia, paralysis, neglect and abandonment, which took years to institutionalize, his trademark.
In truth, Cameroon has never had a free election. Electoral time has always been a great moment of rape for both individuals and consciences. This was already the case towards the end of the colonial period when universal suffrage was extended to the natives.
This is still the case today.
The birth of electoral corruption dates back to the post-war years. In order to counter the growing influence of the nationalist movement, the French administration creates, through prebends, a string of small satellite parties, often of an ethnic character and acquired by definition for its cause. Colonialism and democracy being incompatible, every effort is made to distort the verdict of the ballot boxes – banishment, bullying, harassment and intimidation, physical violence, ballot box stuffing.
In the aftermath of independence, the single-party regime takes over the panoply of means of repression inherited from colonial legislation and void of any content the principle of representative government. Little by little, an insidious confusion is established between the election and the plebiscite. Any competition discarded, the polls result in improbable scores.
Thus the elections became one of the many rituals of voluntary servitude typical of contemporary Cameroonian political culture. In the absence of public liberties, their function is not to allow the expression of the general will. Just like the bureaucracy, the army and the forces of repression, even the so-called traditional chiefdoms, they serve above all as cogs in the vast project of recruitment and corporalization of the whole of society pursued since 1960 by the ruling class .
This function has hardly changed with the advent of multiparty politics. The building remains the same despite many tinkering. In the direct line of colonial traditions of brutality and corruption, universal suffrage has become one of the many means by which tyranny is perpetuated.
The electoral law itself is like the system that designed it. Because it provides for first-past-the-post voting, and because every effort is made to give voter cards only to supporters of the current regime, the power can effectively be vested in someone who arithmetically, represents only a minority fraction of the entire population.
Under current conditions, suffrage in Cameroon is therefore far from universal. It is, de facto, census. Alternating with power through the ballot box is almost impossible. Dominant groups which, since the end of colonization, have been able to divert public power for private accumulation to their advantage exercise absolute control over public finances, the procedures for awarding markets, credit, regulation , and especially the main rents, be they mining, forestry, or agricultural. They also have the armed force, the police, the gendarmerie, specialized units that they can transform, if necessary, into real private militias.
Everywhere in Africa where there was alternation, it was necessary for the opposition to unite behind a single candidate, on the basis of a minimum platform. It also had to join dissident factions within the ruling bloc. In the Cameroonian case, the project of a peaceful alternation can hardly succeed without the constitution of a true multi-ethnic, multi-class, multi-faith and multi-lingual social movement, uniting around a common objective a very large part of the social strata. , professional organizations, unions, churches and other entities.
For the rest, the last show does not change anything in the state of the country. The system remains as sclerotic and parasitic as it has ever been, gnawed from the inside and without perspective. For the class of owners and hoarders who support it, to govern is to use the public power to reap private gains. It is redistributing the opportunities for depredation and misappropriation to better. It is also puncture the weakest and those who do not benefit from any protection.
Cameroon remains embroiled in a regressive economic, social and intellectual trajectory, torn apart by multiple and heterogeneous convulsions.
In the English-speaking regions where a useless war is waged, the same ingredients will continue to produce the same effects: assassinations of police officers, gendarmes and other armed men; kidnapping and kidnapping of civil authorities on funds of repressive convulsion. The escalation continues, the procession of murders, burning villages, killings in the small week is far from ending, and with him the rosary of atrocities.
Need for a radical reform
Cameroon will not succeed without a radical reform of the form of the state. In order to relieve tribalist pressure, federalization or regionalization is inevitable. The same is true of the reform of the electoral law, of justice, of the enlargement of Parliament’s powers and of the establishment of other independent institutions capable of deepening democracy.
The transition to the rule of law also requires the establishment of a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the protection and defense of the rights of women and minorities, the promotion of plurilingualism and multiculturalism. A drastic reinforcement of the powers given to the agencies in charge of the fight against corruption, mass diversions and crime in general is imperative, as well as the reduction of the presidential mandate from seven to five years, renewable once.
If the opposition Cameroon, all tendencies, can not agree on such a minimum program, which would aim at a fundamental overhaul of Cameroon’s political system followed by free and independent elections, then it is not credible “.