The Standard Tribune
YAOUNDE—Forget the two-week time frame set by the law – campaigning for the 2011 presidential has long been on. Here are some of the themes that are emerging and which we believe would animate the campaign season:
1.Honesty: Ben Muna’s remedy for Cameroon
How do you solve a problem like Cameroon? Give it an honest government, says Ben Muna’s APF. Whether from an opposition or governing party perspective, the 2011 election campaigns will come down to three things: governance, governance and governance. The difference would be made by how the different candidates put forth their solution to the problems of corruption, abuse of power and opacity in the management of public affairs. There have been all kinds of solutions, the most recurrent being that it would take nothing short of a change of regime. The nouveauté so far, however, is being put forward by the APF. The party first introduced the concept of “honest government” during its national council meeting earlier this year. An honest government would not be corrupt, insensitive to the needs of the people and deny them opportunities to develop, Ben Muna, the APF chairman, said during a recent tour of the South West. To Mr Muna, there is no such thing as “good governance”, but something called “honesty and truth.” This is what his party will be selling to voters.
2. Change: comeback of an SDF old song
In the 1990s, the SDF swept millions with its “change” theme and nearly won the presidential election in 1992, losing slimly to the incumbent CPDM party of President Paul Biya. If it worked then, can it work 20 years after? The SDF thinks so. The simple logic is that change is the only reason people vote out governments. Remeber “Change We Can?” Marking the 20th anniversary of the party last month, party officials reinvigorated the old rhetoric of the need for a three-year transitional government, a federal state (of four autonomous blocs) and a new electoral code - the only exception being the demand for a sovereign national conference, which would be in a part national court to try Cameroon’s leaders. The conditions of the 1990s have remained largely the same, if they have not worsened, claims the SDF. “They want change. They cry a change. They want change,” says SDF secretary-general Elizabeth Tamajong when asked what Cameroonians need. (See interview, Page 9).
3.Modernity: grand ambitions remix
In 2011, the CPDM would have the harder task of convincing the electorate. In power since 1982, the party has failed to deliver on many electoral promises and on Election Day 2011, that would be the case with “grand ambitions”, which promised in 2004 and dominated public addresses during the past six years. The real promise in “grand ambitions” was the building of a modern Cameroon through investments in the energy, agriculture and infrastructural sectors. Unless the parties opts for a radical shift and make “peace and stability” the central theme of it campaign (which may suit the prevailing atmosphere in 2011), with much of the post electoral promise still to be attained, the CPDM is likely to put forward a remix of “grand ambition”, basically the same promises in other words.