Jul 16, 2012

Marafa, the CPDM, and the rest of us

By Tazoacha Asonganyi

Marafa Hamidou Yaya was arrested and put on “preventive detention” in April 2012, with Ephraim Inoni, a former Prime Minister. In the process, we are learning again that it is not free, independent state institutions that are playing their role of investigating, arresting, and detaining suspects; it is all at the pleasure of one all powerful man, Paul Biya, President of the Republic. Reason why motions of support to Paul Biya are with us again to praise him for the arrest of Marafa and Inoni - from CPDM MPs, the National Youth Council, Mfoundi CPDM, and many more probably to follow in the days ahead...

Like for many political parties, “democracy” is also the pet “slogan” of the CPDM, which they included it in the name of their party, but their militants seem to have very little idea of what it means. Party solidarity cannot be allowed to endanger the rights of the individual member whose free will must remain realised and promoted by the party. Since Marafa published his letters, the CPDM has promoted the politics of personal destruction – visceral, mean-spirited campaigns to destroy him in public opinion – which I find disheartening and bad for the present and future of the country. I know in the jungle of the politics the Cameroonians play, the importance of putting one’s self in the place of another – empathy - to experience what they were feeling, and to understand their motives and desires is never as strong in us as in other societies we look up to.

In Africa, the individual is not yet liberated from the traditional bonds of community, and from the representation of the world as an organic hierarchical totality. This is why we usually hear appeals, like we are hearing from the CPDM to ethnic, religious, traditional or party bonds of solidarity to dampen society’s self-interrogation and self-critique, as characterised by the Marafa letters. To those who spend their time asking why Marafa is only making his revelations today, there is no privileged standpoint from which such revelations can be made; and there is no appropriate moment.

Marafa’s letters indicate that the official political expression we discern in public – motions of support and all - does not necessarily represent popular sentiments. It is those who lost sight of this that were surprised at the speed at which the Marafa letters emerged in the wake of his arrest. Without focus on the underlying meaning of the behaviour of individuals, it will always be difficult to predict the evolution of a political system like Cameroon’s. I have always known that individuals might find it advantageous to hide their true political sentiments from officialdom, so political values should never be judged on the basis of publicly observable and quantifiable measures of support, since the mere existence of motions and rallies of support does not infer popular support, especially for aging leaders that have spent too much time in power! Indeed, in a regime like ours, true political values are hardly ever expressed in public; the landscape usually looks calm and tranquil when it is rife with subterranean discord.

Newspapers are reporting that following Marafa’s letters, Paul Biya instructed the SG at the Presidency to open investigations into the bribery allegations linked to the CAMAIR maintenance contract. But the documents on which these instructions are based were available to him since 2001 because they were provided to Cameroon by Advanced Technics Trust Ltd to enable Cameroon to win its case against South Africa Airways, as per the agreement signed between the two parties on 26/06/2001. This is why another contribution of Marafa’s revelations is the further exposure to the rest of us of the manner the country has been run since Paul Biya took over from Ahidjo in November 1982; he has kept recycling corrupt people in his governments, in spite of his knowledge of their dirty files, and so emboldened them to turn Cameroon into a corruption fraternity in 30 years of his reign. In doing this, he turned government from an expression of leadership, to the service of slaves to a master, as so aptly put by one of his sycophantic university don! He failed to follow the advice that a party leader, like an army officer cannot expect to impose discipline on his subordinates unless he is capable of accepting and working to the same discipline himself; he cannot successfully fight corruption within the ranks of his party and regime, unless he is an example of the incorruptible. This is why we witness daily a curious discrepancy in the behaviour of the CPDM: what they say and what they do seem to always exist in separate compartments!

The CPDM Newspaper l’Action No. 254 of 11 July 2012 waded into the 32.5 billion case against the government, “after several weeks’ investigation on the whereabouts of the money.” Their conclusions reveal the blurred mindset of the CPDM related to corruption. The paper writes: “Following negotiations, Transnet SAA accepted to pay the sum of 26 million US$ (14 billion FCFA), which Cameroon accepted. The 14 billion were naturally deposited in the account of Cameroon in SGBC central branch in Paris. Part of the money served in the payment of the results allowance, part served to pay bailiffs and other witnesses that helped the commission to assemble its evidence, the rest was transferred to government coffers...”

L’Action further informs the rest of us that account no 00078013914 was opened in SGBC central branch in Paris in the name of the Republic of Cameroon to take care of legal fees. The Cameroon government obviously put money (how much?) into the account even before the money from SAA was deposited into it. What was the total sum in the account following the deposition of the money from SAA? We need these details of how taxpayer’s money was spent, but l’Action newspaper that carried out investigations “for several weeks,” failed to give us, hoping to clean the image of the CPDM government and regime without much effort!

The crash of Cameroon Airlines Boeing 737-200 (Nyong) is related to the commissions (bribes!) given to Cameroon government officials to derail the purpose of the contract of maintenance of Boeing 737 and 747 of Cameroon between CAMAIR and Transnet South African Airways because it was effectively the non-maintenance of the planes that led to the crash, and the loss of lives. Indeed, it is the crash and loss of lives that brought the bribery crimes to the fore and caused Cameroon to pursue South Africa Airways for non-execution of contract!

L’Action newspaper does not seem to know that the 32.5 billion have become the microcosm of the budget of Cameroon, and Cameroonians are interested in knowing how each franc of the money was spent. If l’Action newspaper is interested in answering the question “What happened to the 32.5 billion” which constituted the purpose of the “several weeks” investigation, they should know that by now, the rest of us want to know the exact amounts that served each purpose...

Mental health is the ability to adapt to the stresses and misfortunes of life; the ability to cope with anxiety and depression in a healthy way. An outstanding feature of successful adaptation is that it leaves the way open for future growth. Marafa has shown himself to be totally on top of such afflictions; his response through his letters is virtually an exhortation to some of his colleagues who are suffering the same fate as himself to stand up and play the man. He has shown that just as it is usually necessary to sacrifice peace if freedom and justice are to prevail, it may usually be necessary to sacrifice loyalty for freedom and justice to prevail. He has shown us all that in the arduous task of building a new Cameroon, there are many who should not be pigeon-holed; and he has shown that he is a man for all seasons and all reasons...

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