Issues At Stake: When Dictatorial Democracy Triumphs
By Yerima Kini Nsom
When the erstwhile Minister of Communication stated in a press briefing in 2016 that Cameroon had fed so much from advanced democracy to the extent that it was suffering from constipation, the exuberant luster in his eyes conventionally glittered with lies.
Yet, Minister Issa Tchironma Bakari was right in his sterling political sophistry because he was not talking about conventional democracy. He was holding briefs on “democratie a la Comerounaise” or homegrown democracy. He was talking about government by the rulers, with the rulers and for the rulers. Thus, our democracy is the exact opposite of Lincolnian democracy.
Our democracy is real because we have over 300 opposition political parties that are mostly tied to the apron strings of the ruling party. Only a few of them like the MRC, SDF, CDU etc, stand out of the madding crowd.
This explains why pro-establishment democrats rolled out the drums on Tuesday, September 15 to celebrate the World Democracy Day in all pomp and pageantry. There was a curious coincidence in which the commemoration of the World Democracy Day met with gubernatorial interdicts against any peaceful marches in the country. In our democracy, the people virtually have no say. Their powers to choose their leaders are usually confiscated through electoral fraud. Here, the people live, toil and die for their leaders. In turn, the leaders eat, drink, dance and savour all the resources on behalf of the people. Our own kind of democracy is grander since it is the democracy of the leaders and their hypocritical yes men.
Our democracy is millennially gruesome for it is animated by political thugs, soapbox parvenus and emergency patriots. They use an intimidating armada of the state apparatus for the furtherance of terror and barbarism. Anybody who is foolhardy enough to stand out of the madding crowd of think-same and act-same robots, is a potential victim of arbitrary arrest and illegal detention.
The main characteristic of this kind of democracy is that it so pathetically bereaved of what makes it superior to the one-man despotism. Such a democracy is quite unique because it is largely a gerontocracy-laden fraternity of sit-tight septuagenarians, octogenarians and nonagenarians who believe that Cameroon begins and ends with them. In the circumstances, the youth who are deceptively called the leaders of tomorrow, are very sure to take over power. But such wishful thinking seems to be possible only in the next world.
In our democracy, corruption is the life wire for the survival of the powerful. That is why the paradox multi-billionaire civil servant is brutally real here. For, they are civil servants who are richer than the state. While the state is gasping for pecuniary breath, they are shamelessly swimming in opulence. These moral maroons of sudden wealth or the "nouveau riches" strive in arrogance, pretence and self-aggrandizement as they bankroll ruling party’s rallies and churn out deceptive motions of support to the hosanna in the highest.
They think and reason with their stomachs and hardly allow their minds to wrestle even a little with their hearts. They hire the services of intellectual mercenaries who help them to stand reason on its head with sophistic arguments. They conceive and execute anti-poverty projects that are tailored to fight only the poverty of the rich. By their deeds, our country is poor and miserably indebted. Yet the masses have no right to complain. If they do, a security beehive would be let loose on them. If they try to demonstrate as a way of venting their anger and frustration, they may not live to tell the tale. In our democracy, repression and cohesion are the best ways to deal with the kind of uncomfortable truths that do not put a smile on the faces of our political gods. In such a democracy, the leaders rule by violation for they are usually above the law. They enact laws that fasten the lease of suppression round the necks of ordinary citizens.
Small wonder that our torture chambers that are euphemistically called prisons are full and noisy with loud shrieks of victims. Wonderful democracy! Here, the ruler is the state and the state is the ruler. So, are you surprised that the unholy trinity of the Executive, the Legislative and Judiciary are all one and indivisible in their robotic allegiance to the ruler? In our democracy, the god-chosen Deciders-in-Chief are always there to choose what is good for the people even if things remain in a permanent state of disrepair.
That is why observers are wondering why the crisis is still going on after Yaounde spoke on behalf of Anglophones and decided what was good for them. If you gainsay this, then tell me why the Bilingualism and Multiculturalism Commission, the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Rehabilitation Committee, the Common Law Department at ENAM, the presidential recovery plan, were created? By virtue of such a democracy, the solution to the Anglophone crisis must come from above.
The bottom-top approach solution is not a virtue of our democracy. This explains why decentralization is equally a slogan whose summation remains a sterling virtue in our democracy. Anybody who insists that power should come from the bottom is very dangerous to our democracy. Such dangerous elements must be rusticated from our great ruling party. So, the likes of Saint Eloi Bidoung have been sent parking from the party. Such people should not be allowed to spoil our democracy. On this premise, I take a beef with claims that there is no democracy in Cameroon. There is dictatorial and repressive democracy. And it is democracy all the same. This means that we are not copycats of imported political models. So, our democracy has nothing to do with Abraham Lincoln’s pro-people rigmarole that does not fit well in our context of divine rulers or presidents-for-life. Ours is indeed despotic democracy wherein the leaders are accountable only to themselves. The constituencies of the parliamentarians is their stomachs and their immediate families. In the circumstances, we can only be grateful to our MPs and Mayors bringing the necessary change to their constituencies.
And so these constituencies which are their stomachs, take the shape of tense balloons after undergoing change brought about by the micro-project funds. We can only thank our stars because some of these representatives of the people are so obsessive with change to the extent that they change their cars and houses regularly. Celebrated comedian, Pokam Narcisse, holds that in their bid to hearken to the new dispensation, some Ministers, MPs and Mayors have even changed their wives. These constitute the main strengths of dictatorial democracy because the leaders are accountable only to themselves. The people are there to live and die for their leaders.