By Tikum Mbah Azonga
It`s just days to go before the council and parliamentary elections billed for the 30th of September 2013. And if there is any apt expression to describe the state of the campaign as various political parties take the country by storm, it is that of exhaustion. This is because since the campaign began a little over a week ago, the battle has been relentless on all fronts. There has been no let up.
Even so, at the end of the day, what matters is who wins. What matters is which party and which candidate will grab the most votes. It will be interesting to see to what extent the political map and configuration of both local councils and the national assembly in Cameroon will change in coloration – if at all.
As things stand, if the present reading of the chess board is anything to go by, then the ruling party , Paul Biya`s CPDM, will have the upper hand – at least psychologically – because the party picked up the lion`s share of votes at the nation`s first-ever senate elections that took place some months ago. Furthermore, the CPDM commands an absolute majority in the outgoing National Assembly and a greater number of the councils nationwide.
Whatever way one looks at it, the September 30 council and parliamentary elections will be a make or mar exercise for Ni John Fru Ndi`s party, the SDF, which has since its inception and since the reintroduction of multiparty politics in 1990, stood unbeaten as Cameroon`s main opposition party.
Nonetheless, although at the time of its creation back then, the popularity of the SDF and that of its national chairman, Ni John Fru Ndi, were at an all-time high, the crescendo or honeymoon was soon followed by dwindling fortunes. The SDF lost control of members in both the councils and the National Assembly. The departed members either died or broke away voluntarily or were excluded. Some formed rival parties, thus contributing in eroding the support base of the party. Some even defected and joined Paul Biya`s CPDM.
By every stretch of the imagination, the forthcoming twin elections are therefore a golden opportunity for the SDF to show the world that it has what it takes not just to bounce back but actually beat the CPDM. If once again the SDF misses the boat this time around, then it may be quite a while before it picks up the pieces and rises to its feet again. Such a disaster would also expose the party to the ridiculous risk of appearing like a lame duck and a toothless dog.
Of particular interest in the outcome of the election will be the role of Bello Bouba Maigari`s party, the UNDP. Although the party is in the opposition, it has for years played a dubious function as an ally to the ruling CPDM. In fact, the UNDP suddenly shot into the limelight some years ago when the SDF boycotted elections in which the UNDP broke ranks and participated. As a result, Paul Biya credited Bello Bouba with inclusion in government, making him a cabinet minister and at the same time, giving further cabinet portfolios to other members of his party. Today, Bello Bouba is a minister of state, which is a senior minister. However, to Bello Bouba`s discredit, the role of his party in alliance with the CPDM has been confusing and even treacherous, largely because the UNDP has today appeared to be nothing more than “his master`s voice”. It is simply viewed as a mere appendage of the CPDM and therefore lacking in strength of character, stamina, conviction and influence.
A closer look at the political stakes leads to the conclusion that if Paul Biya is maintaining the alliance with Bello Bouba, it is simply out of sympathy, rather than necessity. The truth is that when Biya struck the deal with Bello, he needed to ensure a majority in the National Assembly. That was then and this is now, when Biya enjoys an absolute majority. The question now is whether Biya will still maintain Bouba in the cabinet reshuffle that is likely to follow the twin elections.
That question and many others will be answered by the result of the election. All eyes are therefore on the 30th of September 2013.