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Analysis: Canticles Of Sophism (Like CONAC, Like ELECAM) 

By Peterkins Manyong

The instinct to survive is the strongest force in the world. All dictatorial regimes have this instinct in the superlative degree.

Those who tell dictators to quit power without a fight are those who don’t know how sweet power is. Those who do are those enjoying it and who would employ all the stratagems they master in order to stay put. They always give the impression that the country is moving forward when in reality it is only turning round. Like somebody seated in a rocking chair, Paul Biya is a past master in this survival game.

Elections Cameroon, ELECAM, and the National Anti-corruption Commission, CONAC, are two of Biya’s most ingenious inventions to justify his stay in power. The creation of ELECAM was preceded by one of the greatest political battles ever fought. Not that Biya ever objected to the idea. His argument has always been that Cameroon doesn’t need a foreign model.

But interestingly, this great advocate of "Consommez Camerounaise" has   never seen anything wrong in appearing permanently in western tailored suits, and drinking Chivas, rather than putting on our original traditional regalia and drinking our very nourishing palm wine. But that is beside the point. The point is that Biya wants to be seen as willing to democratise so long as his rights as an autocrat are not violated.

His mission is to Cameroonize democracy, not to democratise democracy. To achieve this goal he has to put in place structures manned by personnel with the willingness and readiness to say they are independent, even if they need permission from the country’s Chief Executive before they breathe.

Even the fact that ELECAM is almost entirely CPDM in composition is no guarantee of its subservience. In fact, Biya knows more than any Cameroonian that the majority of those who shout "CPDM Oye!" would stab him in his sleep if they ever have the opportunity, like Macbeth, to access his bedchambers. Here is the real reason why most of ELECAM’s powers had to be reverted back to MINATD.

In his determination not to be thrown off balance, he backpedaled on his Anglicising mission by making the real boss of ELECAM, the Director General, a man of Northern extraction. It was this Director General who installed the outfit’s regional officials. The ELECAM board has, thus, been reduced to the function of debating a budget for the Director General.

In the choice of ELECAM regional and divisional representatives, the Regime followed its logic of CPDM dominance. In choosing regional and divisional official scare was taken to ensure that they are not "enemies in the house" None is apparently a "zygote of the Milla Asoute to nurture the ambitions of grabbing either by physical or electoral coup d’etat the throne, Etoudi. 

CONAC

The same degree of caution appears to have been taken in creating CONAC. While ensuring that CONAC is not linked to any of the high profile arrests about which so much noise has been made. The arrests are ordered by the President and are quite selective, lending credence to the argument that the real crimes of those arrested is that they are eyeing Biya’s position.

In order to convince Cameroonians and the international community that the fight against corruption is genuine, CONAC, which had been hibernating since its creation, had to be awakened from slumber to run nimbly through the nation, organising sensitisation seminars.

The latest of such seminars held in Bamenda on July 29 and 30.The idea behind this workshop was to empower civil society organisations to combat corruption. That certainly was not a bad idea. Strategies were put in place during the two-day workshop for the civil society to identify corrupt practices and collaborate with CONAC to combat them.

A press release from Dieudonne Massi Ngams, CONAC’s Vice President, and presentations by other CONAC officials, all gave the idea that the Regime is serious in the anti-graft war. But when we consider its track record of propagating lofty ideas and later abandoning them, it is difficult to see CONAC as the long awaited anti-corruption Messiah. But it must be admitted in fairness to this outfit that the method used is more convincing than that of ELECAM.

ELECAM And CONAC Compared

Both ideas were well conceived but CONAC appears sincere as it does not pretend to have the solution to Cameroon’s corruption problem. It empowered the civil society to come up with strategies to combat the scourge, saying the fight can only be won through collective effort.
ELECAM is clearly an outfit created to perpetuate Biya’s stay in power.

In terms of composition, CONAC is also manned by the Regime’s friends. The public is, however, less hostile towards CONAC because its mission is less harmful and its approach more people oriented.

The population sees ELECAM as it truly is-an election chimera ready to devour them. The distrust for the election outfit has been highlighted by the reporter of the very credible International Crisis Group, ICG. ICG mirrors the tensions in Cameroon ahead of the 2011 Presidential Election and see the  lack of a credible election monitoring organ as the catalyst which will spark off violence should the election not be free, fair and transparent.

The approach used by CONAC clearly indicates that Biya, like every other benevolent despot, knows what is good for Cameroonians and can provide it if he wants to. ELECAM is ocular proof of political bad faith on the part of a man who once boasted that he would love to be remembered as the man who brought democracy to Cameroon.

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