Dr. Simon Munzu
Dr. Simon Munzu was a CNU/CPDM bigwig as early as the mid 1980s up to the mid 1990s. He was former charge de mission of the central committee of the CNU under Ahidjo and later the National Secretary for Economic and Social Affairs in Biya’s CPDM. Munzu was one of the heroic trio (Anyangwe-Elad-Munzu) who convened the historic All Anglophone Conferences, AAC-1 and AAC-2, in Buea and Bamenda, in 1993 and 1994 respectively, during which two Southern Cameroons founding fathers, Foncha and Muna, with tears dripping from their eyes, admitted publicly that they blundered in negotiating the reunification arrangement with La Republique. Munzu was also co-founder of the Anglophone National Council, ANC, that later became the SCNC. Because of his commitment to the Anglophone cause he resigned from the CPDM party and from his job as Professor of laws at the Yaounde University. In 1995 Dr. Munzu joined the UN systems where he works until today as an international public servant. He spoke to The Median’s syndicated columnist, Douglas A. Achingale. The interview makes for compelling reading.
*Good afternoon Doctor Munzu and thank you for accepting to receive us here in Limbe at such short notice.
-Good afternoon, Mr. Achingale. I have to admit that your request for a meeting and press interview came to me as a surprise. It’s been a while since I returned to Cameroon following my retirement a year ago from service with the United Nations. I chose to settle here in Victoria (also known as Limbe), where I’m living my life quietly, away from public view and, especially, from media attention.
*Indeed, not much has been heard about Dr. Simon Munzu since the holding of the famous AAC 1 in Buea on 2 and 3 April 1993, AAC 2 in Bamenda from 29 April to 1 May 1994, and the intense national debate on constitutional reforms of that period. But we still recall your memorable appearance and outstanding performance as guest on CRTV’s ‘Cameroon Calling’ in the morning, ‘Dimanche Midi’ in the afternoon and ‘ActualitéHebdo’ in the evening, all on the same day, Sunday, 23 May 1993. Many Cameroonians still remember the political shockwaves that you sent throughout the country at the time. So, where have you been in nearly 20 years?
How time flies!!!!! You are right. Publicly, I have not been on the national scene in Cameroon since September 1995 when I commenced my career as an international civil servant with the United Nations. My first posting was as a United Nations Volunteer (UNV) with the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (UNHRFOR) which I subsequently headed, from August 1997 to June 1998, as interim Chief of Mission. I worked in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office in Rwanda as Programme Manager from July 1998 to February 2001 and, from March 2001 to September 2004, as Senior Policy Adviser on Human Rights at UNDP headquarters in New York. I returned to service in the field with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), first as Director of the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) from September 2004 to May 2011 and then as Director of Political Affairs in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) from May 2011 until my retirement in August 2012.
*We understand that you were first a member of the CPDM before you started your fight for the secession of former Southern Cameroons. Was it out of frustration that you did so?
-I did not, repeat, not start a fight for the secession of Southern Cameroons. Together with others, we started a fight for an end to discrimination against Anglophones and for the recognition of their rights as full citizens of this country. These are, and remain, legitimate objectives that we fought for and would continue to fight for as long as the need to do so persists. That does not require the secession of Southern Cameroons, and I have never, repeat, never been an advocate of the separation or secession of the Southern Cameroons.
In the 20 years since Barrister Sam Elad, Professor Carlson Anyangwe and I launched the struggle for the achievement of these objectives by convening the first All Anglophone Conference (AAC I) in Buea in April 1993, noticeable progress has been accomplished towards the mitigation of discrimination against Anglophones and the recognition of their rights as full citizens of our country, Cameroon. The efforts in this direction should continue because a great deal more remains to be done in this regard.
*What about your previous membership of the CPDM?
-Yes, I was once a member of the CPDM. I joined the youth wing of the CPDM in 1969, when the party was known as the Cameroon National Union (CNU). I was 19 years old and a high school student in the Cameroon College of Arts, Science and Technology (CCAST) in Bambili, which I attended from October 1968 to June 1970. I travelled to England in January 1971 to pursue higher studies in law that lasted from 1971 to 1981 and culminated in my graduation as a Barrister-at-Law from the Inns of Court School of Law and call to the Bar at the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple in London as well as my obtaining a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) degree and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree from the University of London and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in law from the University of Cambridge.
When the CNU established a section in the United Kingdom in 1972, i was a pioneer member of the Section and, from 1972 until I returned to Cameroon in January 1982 I held a succession of posts in the executive of both the UK Section and the South of England Sub-section of the CNU.
In May 1983, in his capacity as National President of the CNU, a post that he maintained after resigning in November 1982 from the office of President of the Republic, Mr. AhmadouAhidjo appointed me as Chargé de mission within his political team in the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the CNU, cumulatively with my duties as lecturer in law at the University of Yaounde. I successively served under two Political Secretaries, Mr. Felix Sabal Lecco and Mr. François SengatKuo. In 1990/1991 President Biya who had succeeded Ahidjo as National President of the CNU (renamed CPDM in 1985) modified the composition of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the party. He abolished the post of Political Secretary and established that of Secretary-General as head of the National Secretariat, to which he appointed Professor Ebenezer NjohMouelle. He also reshuffled the Secretariat, promoting me to the post of National Secretary for Economic and Social Affairs.
It is, therefore, as National Secretary for Economic and Social Affairs in the National Secretariat of the CPDM Central Committee and a member of the CPDM delegation that I took part in the deliberations of the historic Tripartite Conference convened by President Biya in Yaounde from 30 October to 18 November 1991. It is also as a representative of the CPDM that the same Tripartite Conference selected me to join the 11-member Technical Committee made up of seven Francophones and four Anglophones and chaired by Professor Joseph Owona, which was charged with drafting a new constitution for Cameroon.
*That’s amazing. So why and when did you quit the CPDM?
-Remember that the three ‘parties’ to the ‘Tripartite Conference’ were the government, political parties (comprising the ‘presidential majority’ and the opposition) and so-called ‘independent personalities’. At first, the Conference decided that political parties, including the CPDM, would have three representatives on the Technical Committee for the Drafting of the Constitution. Initially, it was Secretary-General Professor NjohMouelle who was designated to represent the CPDM on this Committee. The other two members nominated by other political parties were Francophone. This meant that all three political party representatives were to be Francophone.
The leaders of three opposition parties based in the South West province (now regions) objected to this. They demanded that at least one political party representative should be an Anglophone. To satisfy their demand, NjohMouelle stepped down and proposed me, CPDM National Secretary for Economic and Social Affairs and an Anglophone, to replace him as the CPDM’s representative on the Technical Committee. This was unanimously accepted by the Conference.
But MolaNjohLitumbe, the Chairman of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) with headquarters in Buea, came up with yet another demand. While acknowledging my Anglophone credentials, he asked that the Anglophone party representative should come from the ranks of the opposition and not those of the CPDM. As a compromise, the Conference chairperson, Prime Minister SadouHayatou, raised the number of party representatives from three to four and asked opposition parties to propose an additional Anglophone party representative for the Technical Committee. Mr. Litumbe promptly nominated a member of his party, Barrister Sam EkontangElad, to the applause of the Conference. This brought to four the number of Anglophnoes on the 11-member Technical Committee: Minister Benjamin Itoe representing the Government, Sam Elad and Simon Munzu representing political parties and Carlson Anyangwe as ‘independent personality’.
During the floor debate at the three-day Tripartite Conference, all Anglophones who addressed the Conference, whether of North West or South West origin, elderly or young, traditional rulers or civil servants, men or women, and whether attending the Conference as delegates of the Government, of the ruling CPDM and its allied parties, of opposition political parties or as the so-called ‘independent personalities’, raised the issue of the ‘marginalisation’ of Anglophones in the conduct of public affairs and called attention to the fact that Anglophones were treated as ‘second class citizens’ in their
own country. They insisted on the need to address and remedy the ‘Anglophone problem’ within the framework of the new constitution that participants at the Tripartite Conference stridently called for.
Consequently, the four Anglophone members of the Technical Committee for Drafting the Constitution strongly advocated the return of the country to a federal system of government because we sincerely believed that such a system would be the best framework for recognizing, upholding and protecting the Anglophone identity and giving Anglophones their full rights as citizens of this country. To this end, we submitted a 14-page memorandum to the Committee that was disdainfully ignored by Professor Owona and the other six Francophone members of the Committee. They insisted that Cameroon was a unitary state, that it must remain so and that the Tripartite Conference did not give our Committee a mandate to propose any change to the unitary form of the state.
I retorted that, while it was true that I was representing the CPDM on the Technical Committee, it was also true that I had been specifically selected as an Anglophone who was expected to bring the concerns of Anglophone Cameroonians before the Committee; that, to my knowledge, the form of the state had never been discussed at any meeting of the CPDM; that, during the floor debate at the Tripartite Conference, no preference had been shown by CPDM speakers for one form of the state or the other; that, in principle, both the federal and the unitary forms of the state were open for consideration by the CPDM; and that, therefore, it was totally legitimate and consistent with my status as a senior CPDM official, for me to advocate putting the federalist option before the Tripartite Conference for consideration alongside the unitary option.
*There must, therefore, have been considerable disagreement among members of the Technical Committee on this critical issue. Am I right?
-Oh, sure. Disagreement within the Technical Committee between the seven Francophone members and the four Anglophone members over the form of the state that should be recommended in the proposed draft constitution led to a stalemate and to the suspension, sine die, of the Committee’s meetings and deliberations in April 1993. The Anglophone members of the Committee used this long period of suspension of the meetings of the Committee to produce a ‘Draft Constitution of the Federal Republic of Cameroon’ to counter the draft unitary constitution spearheaded by Professor Joseph Owona.
Since the Technical Committee for Drafting the Constitution had been set up by the Tripartite Conference, we had expected that the latter forum would be reconvened to receive, deliberate and decide on the report and recommendations of the Technical Committee, which would include both recommendations based on a unitary form of government and those based on a federal system of government, between which the Tripartite Conference would have to choose. As advocates of a return to the federal system of government in Cameroon, we needed to be sure that, among the political parties that would be attending a re-convened Tripartite Conference, there was at least one that would wholeheartedly champion federalism and the ‘Anglophone cause’.
Mr. NjohLitumbe and Ambassador Henry Fossung, Chairman of the National Democratic Party (NDP), were both strong and outspoken advocates of federalism and of justice for Anglophone Cameroon. We persuaded them to join forces through the fusion of their two parties to produce one strong political party that would champion everywhere, especially at the re-convened Tripartite Conference which we were expecting, our stand on the constitutional debate then raging in the country. That is how the Liberal Democratic Alliance (LDA) was born out of the fusion of Litumbe’s LDP and Fossung’s NDP. I accepted the invitation from the leaders and members of this new political entity to become its first Secretary-General. Consequently, I resigned from the CPDM, a party to which I had belonged, taking the life span of both the CNU and the CPDM, for a cumulative period of 24 years, from 1969 to 1993.
On 17 May 1993, President Biya established an enlarged Technical Committee on Constitutional Reform comprising the 11 members of the Technical Committee appointed by the Tripartite Conference and about 20 other persons. On 26 May 1993, we formally tabled the ‘Draft Constitution of the Federal Republic of Cameroon’ before this new Technical Committee, but its chairperson, Professor Owona, refused to submit it for examination by the Committee.
You can see that in taking the decision to leave the CPDM, I did not act ‘out of frustration’, whatever that may mean. I was pushed to that position not by ‘frustration’ but by my commitment to the ‘Anglophone cause’ and the emerging signs that my party, the CPDM, was not paying enough attention to the ‘Anglophone problem’. I am aware that some people have said that I left the CPDM out of frustration because I was not appointed a Minister or to another senior position in the state apparatus. That, of course, is utter nonsense. Those people do disservice to my character, but I forgive them, for they know not who I am. Those who know me would not say that about me.
Of course, for a citizen interested in the conduct of the public affairs of his country as I am, to serve one’s country as Minister would be a great honour. By my education, my professional experience and my knowledge of public affairs, I had the profile to be a Minister or even Prime Minister. In fact, many people at the time used to say that I was, in one of those peculiarly Cameroonian expressions, ‘Ministrable’.
However, I do not believe in power for power’s sake and have never, in my life, sought to be appointed to any state office. I believe strongly that leaders should be servants and that the purpose of state power and authority is to serve the people and not those whom they have put in power. That is why I always took a rather principled stance within the ruling party in favour of running affairs for the public good, not for the benefit of the few elites in power. I knew that adopting a progressive and constructively critical stance on public issues while I was a senior official of the ruling party would not endear me to the hierarchy of the party or the state. But I preferred that to selling my soul, my convictions and my beliefs in exchange for transient office and perks.
*Nevertheless, your going abroad has been seen by many as a deliberate abandonment of a genuine cause you and others began. Many are those who now brand you “escapist.” What do you have to say about that?
-I doubt if it can be rightly said that I deliberately abandoned a ‘genuine cause’ or that I ‘escaped’ from anything. I can tell you, however, that two main reasons led to my decision to leave Cameroon in September 1995.
In the first place, and paradoxical as it may sound, I left Cameroon in 1995 as an act of patriotism. As I said earlier, in our capacity as members of the Technical Committee on Drafting the Constitution, Sam EkontangElad, Carlson Anyangwe and I convened the first AAC in April 1993 (Benjamin Itoe gave our initiative his endorsement but felt that, being a government Minister, he could not sign the notice convening this grand meeting of Anglophones which, nevertheless, he attended). The purpose of the All Anglophone Conference, as we its conveners made clear, was for Anglophones, regardless of province of origin, social status or political party affiliation, to arrive at a common set of proposals for asserting and safeguarding Anglophone interests, to be submitted and defended at the impending national constitutional talks that had just been announced, in March 1993, by the President of the Republic – in his famous or, if you prefer, infamous ‘grand/large débat’.
This would enable Anglophones to avoid the mistakes of 1961 when Southern Cameroons politicians went to the so-called Foumban Constitutional Conference without adequate preparation or a common agenda and, consequently, got a raw deal, the debilitating effects of which succeeding generations of Anglophones are suffering to this day. In fact, by the time we convened the AAC, several other regional and special interest groups, notably in the ‘Grand Nord’, the ‘Grand Centre’, the ‘West’ and the ‘Littoral’, had held their own meetings and adopted their own positions to be tabled at the forthcoming constitutional forum. We were about the last special interest group to meet and adopt a set of proposals to be tabled at the constitutional talks that were in the offing.
Because, on 3 April 1993, the massively attended, hugely representative and immensely successful AAC in Buea adopted federalism as the form of the state to be proposed by Anglophones at the announced national constitutional forum, the regime in Yaounde instinctively and summarily dismissed the entire outcome of the AAC and peremptorily branded its recommendations ‘secessionist’. Instead of seeking to understand the real nature of our demands so as to give them the proper response that the justice of our cause called for within the framework of a united (but not necessarily ‘unitary’) Cameroon, the regime chose rather to trivialize Anglophone grievances and make nonsense of the pertinent recommendations of the AAC. It paraded a horde of Anglophone and Francophone hirelings on national radio and television in a campaign to deny the existence of an ‘Anglophone problem’ in Cameroon and to smear the exponents of that problem as disgruntled, misguided and unpatriotic ‘secessionists’.
In short, the powers in Yaounde gave a profoundly deaf ear to the Anglophones who wished that the Cameroonian people (Anglophones and Francophones alike), holding constitutional talks in a national forum convened by the President of the Republic whose authority no one contested, should together examine and find an adequate and equitable solution to the ‘Anglophone problem’. The Anglophone National Council (ANC), subsequently renamed the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC), had been established at the end of the AAC in Buea as the moderate voice of the Anglophones. The steadfast refusal of the regime in Yaounde to dialogue with the ANC and get a better understanding of the exact nature of its demands radicalized the Anglophone movement and weakened the voices of moderates within it, like myself, whose advocacy of dialogue with the regime in Yaounde was made to look illusory, futile and unachievable.
As Spokesman of the SCNC and the latter’s designated public voice and communicator, I was caught between the dismissive attitude of a deaf and insensitive regime in Yaounde and the demands of some impatient and radical SCNC members whose rhetoric veered increasingly towards a call for ‘separation’ or ‘secession’ of Southern Cameroons that I did not support but which I would have to speak up for if that became the official position of the Anglophone movement. I chose, in the face of this dilemma, to opt out of the movement that I had pioneered but whose deviationist orientation towards separation or secession I did not share. My joining United Nations service in 1995 took me out of the SCNC and out of Cameroonian politics in general.
I remain staunchly committed to the aspirations of Anglophone Cameroonians towards the recognition and preservation of their identity and heritage, the enjoyment of their rights as full citizens of Cameroon and the autonomous conduct of their own affairs. That, I believe, can be achieved without the separation or secession of the Southern Cameroons to which I am unequivocally opposed. I see the day when the regime in Yaounde, whether the one we have now or one that, in the course of events in our nation, may come tomorrow, will abandon the policy of denial and engage constructively with the Anglophones to find an adequate and equitable solution to the ‘Anglophone problem’.
*You said that two principal reasons led to your decision to leave Cameroon. What was the second?
-The second reason for my going abroad in September 1995 was a matter of pragmatism. I had chosen, on various national issues, to take a principled stance within the National Secretariat of the ruling party because I believed that, in many respects, the CPDM and the government that supposedly emanated from it could do a great deal more to ameliorate the living conditions of the population across the ten provinces (as today’s ‘regions’ were called then) rather than serve essentially the interests of the ruling elite at various levels of national and local government and in state corporations.
When some like-minded members of the party initiated the ‘progressive wing’ of the CPDM as a platform for pushing for reforms within the party and the state, I joined them without hesitation, the only member of the National Secretariat of the party’s Central Committee at that time to have done so. On a number of occasions, I was designated to represent the CPDM on panel discussions on burning national issues organised by CRTV on radio or on television. I invariably introduced my contributions by stressing that, although I was representing the CPDM, no one had told me what to say, so any views that I expressed were mine and not those of the party. This was factually true, but stating it so bluntly on TV or radio was considered by some in the party hierarchy and the state apparatus to be politically incorrect and even disloyal.
Matters came to a head when I openly supported federalism and publicly argued for an equitable solution of the ‘Anglophone problem’ in the national constitutional debate of the early 1990s, co-convened the first and second All Anglophone Conferences, took on the role of Spokesman of the AAC and, ultimately, joined the ranks of the opposition upon becoming Secretary-General of the LDA. I was harassed and ‘punished’ for my ‘rebellious’ behaviour in many subtle ways. For example, at the University of Yaounde and, subsequently, the University of Yaounde II where I taught law, I was always passed over for promotion and denied research missions abroad on which the university routinely sent its academic staff during the long vacation.
A Senior Divisional Officer (SDO) for Meme division in the South West province, my province of origin, refused to sign administrative papers that I needed to be able to register in my name a piece of state land in Kumba regularly allocated to me years earlier by one of his predecessors, sarcastically saying in a hand-written note to the divisional chief of lands that I should wait for the advent of the ‘Republic of Ambazonia’ to have the land registered in my name. In July 1994, after this SDO had been replaced by another, I was detained for several hours some kilometres away from Kumba, on the Victoria-Kumba road, by gendarmes who said that they had an order from ‘the hierarchy’ banning me from entering Kumba, even for the purpose of passing through to go to my home town of Nguti situated on the Kumba-Mamfe road.
After I resigned from the University of Yaounde II and the civil service in August 1994 on political grounds, with loss of pension rights as provided for by the general rules and regulations of the civil service, I was denied, up to this day, the ‘immediate’ refund of my past pension contributions to which I was entitled under the provisions of the same general rules and regulations of the civil service. When, following my resignation from the University of Yaounde and the civil service, thus ceasing to be a civil servant, I applied to be sworn in to practice law as an advocate, having fulfilled all the legal requirements for admission to the Cameroon Bar, my application was denied in the Ministry of Justice, which legally had no power of decision in the matter, with no reasons given. The list goes on and on and on.
After I resigned from the University of Yaounde II and the civil service, I spent one year in Cameroon without a paid job and no income to take care of myself and my family. This was a price that I chose to pay for the freedom of my conscience, the liberty of my mind and the integrity of my being. However, in September 1995, I received the offer to serve in post-genocide Rwanda as a United Nations Volunteer. The assignment was for a period of three months. I took it. In the event, three months turned into 17 years and volunteer service became a career with the UN. If that is what it means to have ‘escaped’, then escape indeed I did. Today, I don’t regret for having done so.
*The SCNC is today divided into factions. Does that mean that the cause you and a few others began has failed?
-As I said earlier, I have been out of the SCNC for nearly 20 years. I don’t know if it is today divided into factions and, if so, which factions.
Be that as it may, I wouldn’t say that the Anglophone cause that we championed has failed. First of all, looking at developments over the past 20 years, it is evident that Anglophone self-awareness and sense of identity have been strengthened by the movement that we launched when we convened the AAC in 1993. As I observe the scene in our country today, I am pleased to note that the strong and growing sense of an Anglophone identity is trans-generational; it permeates Anglophones of all generations, including young people who, in 1993, had not yet been born. It warms my heart to see that the grand design to ‘assimilate’ Anglophones has failed.
Secondly, although the regime may not want openly to admit this, it has been led since 1993 by the spirit of the AAC to redistribute state power and authority through appointments to senior posts and to establish state institutions, notably universities, in a manner that increasingly takes the aspirations of Anglophones into account, thus reducing their marginalization and making them feel less as ‘second class citizens’ in their own country. Today, it has become virtually natural for Anglophones to occupy positions in the state apparatus and in state corporations that were unimaginable 20 years ago. In fact, one of the ironies of the situation today is that some Anglophones who were hired in the early and mid-90s to denounce and combat the AAC, its leaders and its offshoots, are the ones who have drawn the greatest personal benefit from the gains brought by the same AAC.
You can also judge the solidity and vitality of the Anglophone heritage, whose preservation we must continue to advocate, from the fact that, today, more and more Francophone parents are voluntarily sending their children to Anglophone schools, colleges and universities implanted not only in the two Anglophone regions but also in the eight Francophone regions. They do so because they recognise the quality of our system of education that does not focus narrowly on academic achievement but stretches out to encompass moral and civic education from pre-school to university. This is as it should be. For when Anglophones advocate and strive for the recognition, protection and propagation of the our heritage and our way of being and doing, it is not for the benefit of ourselves only, but for that of all Cameroonians, Anglophones and Francophones alike, so that, ultimately, the Anglophone heritage becomes an integral part of our country’s heritage accessible to all the citizens of this ‘Land of promise, Land of glory’.
*There are more Anglophone leaders of political parties today than before: Ben Muna, Paul Ayah, Kah Walla … What’s your take on that and how do you think they can impact the Cameroonian polity?
-Well, considering that, from what I hear, there are over 250 legally registered political parties in Cameroon, the number of political parties led by Anglophones appears to be proportionately small. Nevertheless, you are right to draw attention to the relatively recent emergence of a flurry of Anglophone-led political parties on the national scene. For some people, this may be a sign of the ‘vitality’ of democracy in our country. I fear, however, that it may actually be the manifestation of two disturbing characteristics of party politics in Cameroon.
The first disquieting characteristic is the internal suppression of dissenting voices within political parties, whether those in government or those in the opposition. It is remarkable that, of the three party leaders that you’ve mentioned, two are former members of a leading opposition party and one a former member of the ruling party. All three appear to have been forced to quit their respective parties because their disagreement with the leadership of their parties on certain issues was greeted with hostility and intolerance within the party. This is not good for the growth of democracy in our country. Democracy cannot take root in our nation if diversity of opinion is not tolerated and nurtured within political parties.
The second disturbing characteristic of party politics in Cameroon that the existence of these new parties portrays is the tendency to base politics in our country not on ideology or issues but on personalities. I suspect that, if you were to analyse the programmes of each of the parties led by the people you have named, you would not find any significant differences between them. In that case, you would have thought that they would get together on a common platform and thus constitute a stronger and more consequential political force. The only thing stopping them from doing so is the desire of each to be at the centre, and thus the head, of any party that might result from their coming together – what I call ‘personality-oriented’, as opposed to ‘issues-driven’, politics.
The latter phenomenon keeps these parties financially, materially and organisationally weak, geographically circumscribed and ideologically unconvincing. This undoubtedly reduces their potential to, as you put it, ‘impact the Cameroonian polity’.
*If you were to join a political party today, which would you choose?
-I am so disillusioned by the low quality of party politics in our country today that I have no inclination to join any existing political party. Nor do I have any intention to create one. It is a pity that, unlike in other African countries, the electoral law of this country still does not allow Cameroonians to participate in the politics of their country as ‘independents’ even though our nation’s Constitution says clearly that Sovereignty belongs to the people and the law on political parties unambiguously gives every Cameroonian the right not to belong to a political party. If I were to get involved in the public affairs of our country today, it would not be as a member of a political party but rather as a civil society actor. This is without prejudice to the options that may lie in the future.
*Do you foresee Cameroon realizing its dream of becoming an emerging nation by 2035?
-I applaud the authorities for setting a vision for Cameroon becoming an emerging nation by 2035. This is a positive development compared to previous years when the country was governed with no set goals and, therefore, no benchmarks on which to measure our performance as a nation.
However, it is not enough to proclaim our intent to become an emerging nation by 2035. None of the countries that are today officially recognized worldwide to be ‘emerging’ nations, the so-called ‘BRICS’ (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) started by proclaiming their intention to become an emerging nation. Turkey is on the path to becoming an ‘emerging’ nation. So, in Africa, is ‘little’ Rwanda. However, neither Turkey nor Rwanda says today, or has said in the past, that it wants to become an ‘emerging nation’. Countries like these adopt a vision for their development and work methodically and relentlessly towards its implementation through a set of concrete achievements. Then, based on these concrete achievements, analysts assess their performance and confer on them the status of ‘emerging nation’.
That is how we have to proceed in Cameroon where we should not expect to achieve ‘emerging nation’ status by presidential decree. Listening to some people talk, you would think that, just by declaring our intention to be an emerging nation by the year 2035, we will inexorably become an emerging nation within the next 22 years. It doesn’t work like that. In our onward march to ‘emergence’ by 2035, the role that citizens, as opposed to the state, are expected to play has yet to be clearly defined and effectively assumed them. ‘Human capital’ is a determining factor for our country’s ‘emergence’.
I am guardedly optimistic but prudently skeptical about the probability of our attaining emerging nation status by 2035. We must wait and see.
*Thank you once again, Dr. Munzu, for giving us so much of your time for what, I must admit, has been a very long interview.
-You’re welcome, Mr. Achingale. The pleasure is mine.
Source :The Median Newspaper