Article by Kenedy Ejacha***
(Former Chief of Cabinet of the Vice-President of the National Assembly of Cameroon)
Edited by Innocent Chia
From time immemorial, the history of humanity is populated with instances where warriors have changed camp and become assets in the championing of causes against which they were ready to lay their lives. Remember Saul to Paul? Winning over these converts is as great a weapon as ever existed in the struggle of the establishment of societies as we know today.
Defectors provide adversaries with the information and or tools to successfully corrode the cohesiveness of the collective's power structure. Jacques Fame Ndongo and his cohorts are all too mindful of this legacy, which is reason enough to explain the ratcheting of the assault against the former top CPDM boabab and Secretary General at the Presidency, Marafa Hamidou Yaya, who is now responsible for feeding them a sample of their feces.
The final assault that will bring victory to the people of Cameroon in the war against the brutal dictatorial Biya regime and his French coterie will be inevitably achieved through a systemic collapse of the apparatus that has sustained the Biya regime against the non-violent activism for genuine democratic institutional reform by the Cameroonian people. The current visible fragmentation of the regime’s internal power structure cannot independently spur the long awaited and overdue revolution for change that Cameroonians in their immense majority have been clamoring for – a unified and coherent opposition leadership is greatly necessary, too. It seems very important to highlight at this point the fact that, the current internal bickering that is rocking the Biya regime is not a novelty. Still fresh in our minds are the defections of former regime bigwigs such as Francois Sengat-Kuo, Titus Edzoa, Chief Mila Asoute, Albert Ndzongang, Solomon Tandeng Muna, Jean Jacque Ekindi...
What the apparatchiks of the regime are hoping for is that, things don’t turn out as they did in the early 1990 – period marked by the pseudo-rebirth of multi-party politics. They are counting on the legendary nonchalance and naivety of the Cameroonian people for nothing to happen to them.
I already sense that naivety being expressed in the way I hear some Cameroonians talk about the Marafa episode of the “Operation Epervier” psychodrama staged by the regime. I enjoin us to pause for one moment and ask real and meaningful questions about the opportunistic value of the information that Marafa is providing about the mode of operation of this regime. Yea, I agree with all those who say that Marafa fought against the Cameroonian people when he supported the Biya regime in its assaults on the rights and dreams of the people of Cameroon. But...!
But today, the guy is not with Biya! It very clear that he is against Biya! This guy is fighting for his survival. There are many in the regime that like him, are ready to give up on Biya, but the question in their mind is where can they go for safety. These people are watching at the manner with which Marafa will be treated by the people of Cameroon that he has decided to now serve.
It will be a tactical blunder to continue associating Marafa with the Biya regime even when all facts point to a mutual divorce between the two. The people of Cameroon should not forget that they are at war - for real - against the Biya regime for their rights and freedom. Like any army at war, when a major player from the opposing camp defects to your camp, you embrace him upon the verification of the genuineness of his defection – this will spur more defections from the enemy’s camp. The treatment of enemy defectors is a very critical component in modern ideological warfare where battles are won on the psychological battlefield. The NATO mission in Libya is still fresh on our minds. During the NATO war against Kaddafi, news about the defections of Kaddafi’s henchmen was highly saluted by the NATO propaganda machine and it consequently served as one of the principal cause of the downfall of Kaddafi.
By deciding to embrace Marafa and providing him legal counsel, the Social Democratic Front party, SDF, through the leadership of its National Chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi, is making the point to the Cameroonian people that it has a lucid understanding of who is against the people. The SDF is demonstrating here what has always been its resolved determination - to go after the principal victimizer of the Cameroonian people in the person of Biya himself and no one else. Marafa’s solicitation for legal help from the SDF, in his life’s battle against Biya, reveals some very important facts that must not be ignored.
Firstly, it shows that Marafa trust the SDF to defend his life against the brutal and despotic life snatching Biya regime. And this raises the serious question of why would he trust the SDF. There must be something about the SDF that Marafa knows which gives him that absolute confidence in the SDF. The understanding that his case against the regime is more of political than legal – as unequivocally expressed in his third letter from jail – enlightens him enough to take the wise decision to associate to his defense a robust political apparatus with the ability to stand its grounds firmly against Biya. Is it that his past embedment within the highest decision making stratum of the Biya regime gave him the kind of exposure that enables him to rely today on the integrity of the SDF as the most potent political force against the Biya Regime? If that is the case – which certainly it must be – then it will be fair to conclude that all the accusatory propaganda about muddy deals between the regime and the SDF is just a bunch of gimmicks from political opponents aimed at smearing the SDF and its top leadership in the minds of Cameroonians.
Secondly, the spontaneous response from the SDF to commit its legal experts to advocate on behalf of Marafa’s right to a just and equitable trial is an indication that the SDF, if given the opportunity to govern, it has the capacity to pursue policies that will privilege reconciliation over retaliation.
Decades of institutional anarchy and civil service corruption have greatly compromised the ability of Cameroon to, as it is now, build a civil service administration fully comprised of corrupt-free individuals. Majority of Cameroonians have in some form - encouraged by an ineffective judicial and accountability system - inappropriately dipped into the public treasury. The Post-Biya regime nation-building effort will require a well balanced approach of resetting mentalities and putting in place strong institutions that will guarantee transparency in the conduct of business at all levels from top to bottom. While each case of unresolved crimes committed under the present regime against the people should be reviewed on case by case bases, the overall expectation should be that reconciliation prevails – only to the extent at which individuals involved are ready to come clean and make amends by committing themselves to restitute to the public domain whatever they had swindled.
Indubitably, there is a wind of change that is blowing in Cameroon. This may not be the kind of wind that travels with breezy sounds, pulling down trees and crippling communities like the one that ushered the pseudo-political reforms of the early 90s. The wind that we are experiencing is a subtle wind that is blowing fine particles of sand into the eyes of the Prince of Etoudi. Thus, blinding and misdirecting him to light the fire of discontent in his own camp. What the Cameroonian people need today is an opposition leadership that is capable of magnifying the fire that the Prince himself has lit in his own camp. Marafa is one heck of a guy that if we, the people, give him the gasoline that we have kept for long to burn down this regime, he will know the right bushes of the regime to set ablaze. Please people of Cameroon, let’s all breathe in our deepest breadth ever and then exhale together on this fire that will cause this regime to burn down completely.
***Kenedy Ejacha is the former Chief of Cabinet of the Vice-President of the National Assembly of Cameroon. He was also a SDF candidate for the 2002 Legislative Elections in Mfoundi – Yaounde. He currently is living in Maryland – USA.