By Mwalimu George Ngwane
Originally Published in CODESRIA BULLETIN Number 3 - 4, 2004
The underlying assumption of this essay is that multipartyism has failed in Cameroon not necessaraily because multipartyism has proven to be an ill-adapted political model in most of Africa but primarily because the political elite in Cameroon have been unable to provide a vision of a future for Cameroonians and a realistic strategy for achieving it. The essay therefore calls on Cameroonians to see beyond Presidential elections 2004 and to ponder over the question: ‘What will Cameroon look like in the year 2020?’
For more than a decade, the goals of multiparty democracy still elude the masses and within the present political context of unbridled demagogy, multiparty may remain a façade and charade, promising much but delivering little. Many reasons have been advanced for the dismal performance of neo-liberal democracy in Cameroon but let us dwell on just a few.
(i) Lack of democratic will:
Cameroon’s leadership yielded to democratic pressures (both internal and external) in the early 1990s more out of convenience than of conviction. In his political book Communal Liberalism, the incumbent President, Paul Biya had manifested his apprehension for multipartyism as he wrote:
The present phase of the history of Cameroon does not permit the institution of a multiparty system. Our Party (Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement- CPDM) is therefore, responsible for the reduction of the existing ethno-cultural divisions in order to promote national integration… (Biya 1987: 127)
Hardly had Paul Biya, who took power as President in 1982 from Amadou Ahidjo, settled down to experiment his political thought than the 6th April 1984 aborted military coup jostled his grip on power and the 26 may 1990 launching of another political party (Social Democratic Front - SDF) defied his one party ideology.