Participating in Positive Change

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2011 Elections: Participation and political change in Cameroon

September 7, 2010

By Aloysius AGENDIA
The massive registration and voting of Cameroonians in the 2011 Presidential Election in Cameroon is indispensable for change  in the country, whether the elections would be rigged or not.
Registration and voting may not be an immediate panacea to our problems, but it is a significant step towards signalling that we want change and even implementing the change and in the direction that we want.

Massive registration would definitely mean that the people are ready to defend their votes.  This will make would-be riggers to be cautious in the way they go along with
their malicious business. It is equally easier to rigged elections when there are less registered voters and actual voters, than when there are many people who registered and actually vote.  Massive turn out is always a very important signal.

Unfortunately, the SDF and other misguided "opposition" parties in Cameroon are again telling Cameroonians not to register, by not encouraging them to register.  They are creating voter apathy already and, they would be the first to claim that voters' were disenfranchised and elections rigged.

Amateurish, lacklustre and lackadaisical political leadership.

In a recent interview in Le Jour published online on August 23, 2010, SDF natural Chairman and candidate, John Fru Ndi, was too ambiguous, saying it is not him to tell Cameroonians to go or, not to go and register and subsequently vote. His focus was more on Elections Cameroon-ELECAM. I understand his concerns but he must equally know that politics is about tactics. Massively mobilising his militants and sympathisers to register is a better tactics than keeping them in the wilderness. It is even a condition sine qua non for the success of any party; if at all the SDF wants real business.

It is not only the duty of the opposition to verbally criticise. What are they doing to turn the tides?

Still in the same newspaper, (Le Jour), Hon. Jean Mitchell Nintcheu, SDF MP in the Littoral Region, was even more radical by vibrating that no elections will take place in Cameroon under ELECAM.
The SDF has always made such similar comic statements at best, before. During the era of National Elections Observatory-NEO, it was that they (SDF) would not participate in elections, but they did. When government signalled the creation of ELECAM, they changed strategies by saying; No ELECAM NO ELECTIONS.

Yet, the 2007 Municipal  and Legislative Elections were  conducted without ELECAM and the same parties which never asked it members to register, took part in the elections and are now  managing councils  and have seats in parliament. Though ELECAM has been created with its flaws, now, the same rhetoric is ongoing.

Instead of focusing on winning more militants  and sympathisers through the selling
of party programs on different issues affecting public life and also by encouraging people  to register, vote and defend their votes, the SDF, which remains the main opposition party is still engaging in fruitless hide- and-seek "belly" politics. This pushes some people to believe that the SDF is either complicit with the CPDM, or the party decision making body is highly incompetent and not motivated.

In the same dossier in Le Jour, little known Progressive Movement party of Jean Jacques Ekindi, also took rather radical stand on voter registration. According to the article MP says, it would not collaborate with ELECAM.

Furthermore, in an online article published by  the National Bilingual daily, Cameroon Tribune  on September 5, 2010, it was revealed that there are dissenting voices in the SDF as to its participation in elections, which should begin with calling on its militants and Cameroonians to register on voters’ registers.

Anembong Monju, the Communication Secretary for the party said without any shame that the SDF as of now, will not tell Cameroonians to go and register, neither would it instruct its militants not to register. I wonder who are the communication and political advisors for this party which started with a lot hope in the 90s.

The recent declarations of the SDF and the  of little known MP parties   are nothing  short of  amateurish political gimmicks, which smacks of senile political leadership just as the leadership of the CPDM itself. This is because, the same political parties receive funding from the state, have MPs in the National House of Assembly and some of them manage councils won from elections which the same parties have always described as always flawed.

I find it utterly ridiculous for the "opposition" not encouraging people to register and subsequently vote. Time is running out and we are left with just a few months to the elections if at all they are held within the first 9 months of next year. That notwithstanding, when the results would be declared, the same parties who are mute now on registration of voters, would be the first people to call on Cameroonians
to go and defend their votes. Which votes? Funny indeed.

These parties just as the CPDM are terribly wanting. Unfortunately, change in Cameroon without any possibility of a coup d' etat, is likely to come from two main parties- CPDM or SDF. But when leaders of the ruling and opposition parties choose just to behave alike, it becomes really hard for the voters to decipher.

Don't ask me to go and create my own party because it is virtually impossible for any new party to succeed now. This is partly because; the hopes and aspirations of the people have been destroyed by the outdated leadership of both the SDF and the CPDM. Most Cameroonians do not believe in political parties again. Many think on ethnic lines. Most importantly, implanting a viable opposition beside SDF or the CPDM would need several years of education, selling of manifesto and sensitisation.

All these require considerable political and economic capital which most of us do not have. A bit of political capital may be there, but the economic/financial capital needed to set the ball rolling is missing or very difficult to garner. That is why we have not been able to see a better and an organised opposition in Cameroon.

The SDF profited from the benefit of doubt and the overwhelming frustration
of people in the early 90s. It is not the same now. Frustrations have grown even further albeit this time around, our people are so scared of political parties again. They gave their trust to these parties, but mostly got nothing in return but disappointments.

However, I still see a few elements in both parties (CPDM and SDF) who can turn the tides. Unfortunately, the issue is that the old ideology of dominance and suppression
is still very strong in the main parties. Proponents of this old and centralised ideology sack opponents from the parties or simply demote people with different views from strategic positions in the parties.

Theoretical true and practically false perception of youths

Claims on by Cameroonian youthful journalist, Carole Yemelong, who works for Equinox Radio and presently (as of September 07 2010)  taking a professional course in France,  that Cameroonian youths are dead-ready to see  the out-come of 2011 are theoretically true. But, if you investigate more, they would be practically false. You can start by asking the same lady if she has registered for the elections. You may be surprised with what you will hear.

No change will come from people sitting at home and making wishes. They must register and make sure they vote and defend their votes. Registering to vote is the first step towards defending your votes and defending your vote should be the last step toward ushering political change.  It is not an issue of rushing to polling stations for the counting when you did not even register, talk less of voting. It is not a matter of resulting to violence and claiming that your vote has been stolen when you did not even register to vote.

Pacific change can only take place in Cameroon through meaningful political participation and with the concerted efforts of all Cameroonians.  Let the opposition plays it role and stop doing the gallery. A stable Cameroon oriented political base will then set the pace for developments in other sectors, social, health, economic, etc. Cameroonians at home: Register and vote if you want change

Go Back

That's a freethinking Cameroonian. Hope "SDF natural leader" Mr Fru Ndi John, could be able to learn from this creative article. The only panaceau to change is for Cameroonians at home to enforce in massive registration and actual voting. Until that is done, change would continue to belong to posterity.
Make no mistake, even a military take-over, might definitely not be the ultimate solution. If truely Cameroonians crave for change, then spare notime, but to get every would-be voters registered and vote come 2011.

Long Live Cameroon

The outcome of the 2011 elections will be decided strictly on the basis of the recently released census results. As credible as the results are, the CPDM is confident to carry the day in the two anglophone regions.
We shall take care of the remaining regions which are our traditional heartlands.

With less than 1 million Cameroonians in the two above regions,as per our census; only 500.000 eligble voters by our statistics shall vote. Analysts like yourself could write all you want nothing will change. I shall personally be in Bamenda, Bali, Kumbo taxing in a helicopter to make sure things go our way.

These elections have a special significance for us, the CPDM. It is the last time we shall be tapping the services of our allies in the Cameroon opposition like Fru Ndi, Bouba Bello, Ndam Njoya etc. Old age shall sweep most of them way but our successor Frank shall carry our baton. There shall be a change of command both at the helm of the ruling party and the state. Mr. Frank Biya, shall take over in 2012. Those Biafras who ignore my predictions do so at their own peril.

The political landscape shall never be the same again. Those who wish us ill will only have themselves to blame. Also, I have decided and advised the head of state never to allow voting outside our country. Any one with balls should come to our Cameroon and expose his tantrums for us to see. There, there is Amnesty International etc etc. for you to run you dirty mouths.

Those Cameroonians of the English expression who do not like the manner we run our beloved country could go to the Nigerian Embassy in Washington and take additional citizenship besides the US one. We hate you people.

I think a more balanced view of the matter would have been one that highlights and condemns machinery of fraud the regime through its instruments have used to make elections as meaningless as many now feel they are.

You blame the SDF and MP for the stand they have taken out of their frustration with what they see as meaningless efforts that lead NOWHERE without at the same time giving them reason to think that by working to have their militants register to vote, anything will be different.

WHY SHOULD A REGIME THAT NEVER HAS ANY REGARD FOR FAIRPLAY AT ELECTIONS RECEIVE SO MUCH SYMPATHY FROM YOU WHILE VICTIMS OF SUCH PRACTICES BECOME YOUR TARGET? While not taking sides with the SDF or MP, I think we need to start by calling on the CPDM regime to sit up this time around and give the population reason to register massively and vote. The language they are using is the same language they used. The very tactics used yesterday are still in place. I see this as the difficulty they are having convincing people.

Even if all the Cameroonians of voting age registered and voted what change would they expect. Paul Biya would win like it or not. The SDF would flout Fru Ndi as their candidate. What change do you expect from any of these two men if one of them wins? Absent a revolution, change is near impossible in Cameroon.

The inertia has been caused by the major political actor in Cameroonian political sphere and not the opposition like you think.What is massive registration going to do to stop the disenfranchisement of voters who are deemed to vote anti establishment? We have seen that in the past more than once, why do you think it will change now? And talk of natural candidates who is even credited with the birth of that tagline? Any objective writer knows it is the CPDM that introduced the politics of natural candidates and if the other parties have copied it,i cant blame them.Perhaps it is time for the political leadership in paye to just go ahead and declare the country a monarchy instead of always making us the laughing stock of the world with elections whose results are always ever known four years ahead.

Hello sir,
Your observation is just the usual yes, yes, yes, that Cameroonians are up to. if you openly acknowledge that ELECAM has been created with its shortcomings, why do you so much believe that the short comings of ELECAM should not or cannot be corrected. If you are not Biased my friend, you should equally hammer on the fact that these shortcoming as the opposition are asking for should also be redressed.
You give the impression that the Ruling Government is all knowing and all correct in what they do and all should accept what comes from them.
With all due respect Agendia you give me the impression that you can go ahead and build your house on a foundation which from all civil engineering criteria is porous. You see a burst pipe and go ahead to pour water expecting it to reach your destination with the simple justification that it is a pipe ok.
What you have simply done is using your pen to tell us what we have always heard from academicians of the Biya regime.

Its really Great to see this site.Give us more interesting and informative stuff.keep doing work like this for the further also..Thanks Buddy

there is an issue at stake is that there is actually no way out of this story unless we have a radical take over and 2011 cannot provide that with or without ELECAM.the youths of this country do not beleive in any politcal or administratiive setup.

we do not look neither up to Fru Ndi because of his outdated policies of chickening out.everytime he says "we are not in" with the hope the wills would bend,they don't and he chckens back hw doen's have any straight policy as evidenced from the contradctions from him as co.

the is bound to e voter aparthy wether Fru Ndi calls for it or not, "This is partly because; the hopes and aspirations of the people have been destroyed by the outdated leadership of both the SDF and the CPDM. Most Cameroonians do not believe in political parties again".

take a look at the photograph in the artcle,those are the presidential candidates for 2011 and every other preceding elections.they are the same people who have failed this country.

in fact if i were to vote, and i know i won't,i would vote for Biya.Atleast he is the experienced devil that i know and who mirrors all the "opposition" candidates.But again i don't need to register before he wins i thnk that like Endeley, "if no one votes for him, the stones will" we have seen it before!

I agree with the writer. We all aready know that this regime won't organize a free & fair election...this is no news to us and shouldn't be news to the opposition. Politics is a game of tactics. What new tactical moves have they taken to beat the biya's system? If the opposition, for what ever reason, think they can't beat biya's tactical moves or the cpdm machinery, they should come out clearly and say so. But, how do they expect to beat Biya & the cpmd when they don't even want young, new, dynamic & current political actors to take over the fight for them? Do you know that 26 yr old boys & girls that were on the street protesting in 1990 are now 46 year old parents, with better understanding of the world, more educated, and can be very instrumental to the opposition? ….. but Fru doesn't see it that way. For two decades they've cried foul but stayed in the the 'ring'. This itself explains why many Cameroonians are convinced Fru & his cronies are on the gov't's payroll.
Anyway, the writer's frustration is not because he thinks biya and the cpdm are any better, but because most Cameroonians had expected a lot more from the opposition and Fru Ndi.

Aloys, i remained concerned about the fact that you sounded negative and blame SDF for opening our eyes, as a journalist who have served Cameroon for years, what did you in your capacity as a news editor or Producer did while in Cameroon?

Every bit and pieces in CRTV was censored you stayed quite and never dare to criticised, today after being paid by CPDM government you embark on a campaign to destroy SDF, how did you catapulled yourself to where you are today? Please could you kindly revisite your strategy to destroy the SDF? Could you take from where Fru Ndi left and continue with the struggle?