Southern Cameroons Crisis: Gloomy prognoses keep ruling party on edge 0

For more than two decades, bad news has become the staple of many Cameroonians. If it is not a ghastly road accident, it is a serious case of corruption where a government official has absconded with state money. And there are unfortunately many government officials who have made pilfering their favourite sport.

Cameroon has successfully placed itself among the most corrupt countries in the world. Under Peter Mafany Musonge, the country’s Prime Minister in the 1990s, Cameroon topped the charts twice and ever since, many government officials have been trying to outdo each other.

But the current gloomy prognoses have very little to do with the ruling party’s favorite sport – corruption. It is more about their natural candidate’s health and the country’s declining economic situation. The news is not good for the ruling party and there is panic among party stalwarts.

Cameroon’s president, Paul Biya, also known as the “monarch” is fighting for his health in a Swiss hospital. At almost 86, Mr. Biya is no longer strong enough to put up a good fight against a failing heart and a heady prostrate that has been a nightmare to the ailing monarch.

According to a Cameroon Intelligence Report source in Switzerland that is very close to the ailing monarch’s entourage, the prognosis are gloomy and this is sowing confusion among those surrounding the monarch. Mr. Biya who has been sick for many years, now believes that the stressful Southern Cameroons crisis is finally taking its toll.

Last week, the very first test results clearly indicated that the “monarch” had a health crisis on his hands. A Cameroon Intelligence Report source in Switzerland has hinted that the situation is concerning and from every indication; the monarch has not got much time left.

The source added that the trip to Switzerland was prompted by the fact that his health condition was already spiraling out of control. The monarch’s heart was already beating like the engine of an old car and this was a major concern to his collaborators who count on him for them to keep their positions and to continue robbing the country blind.

There is pandemonium within Mr. Biya’s circle. Many of his collaborators fear that he might not be able to take the heat that comes with a strenuous exercise like an election campaign. The people around him are concerned and are working round the clock to ensure nothing filters out of the bad situation that is playing out in Switzerland. The location of his hospital has been kept secret for some time in the belief that angry Cameroonians will not show up to disrupt the monarch’s recovery.

But the anger that inhabits Cameroonians has driven them to locate the hospital where Mr. Biya is battling for his life. Any news about the monarch travels very fast. His poor economic and political performance has made him the most hated person in the country.

Many Cameroonians have seen their dreams washed away by Mr. Biya’s mismanagement and corruption. Millions of Cameroonians are unemployed in their own country and their parents are dying of preventable and curable diseases. Millions have fled the dehumanizing poverty that the ruling party has manufactured. The financial burden of Mr. Biya’s incompetence has fallen on the country’s Diaspora which is hell-bent on making the monarch pay for the destruction he has wreaked on the country.

Mr. Biya is currently hospitalized at the Hôpitaux Universaires de Genève where millions of dollars are being paid for his failing health. The Cameroonian tax-payer is footing the bill. Mr. Biya’s entourage is 50-man strong and all the staff accompanying him are lodged in world-class hotels. This is costing the country’s treasury an arm and a leg. That is why activists have set up camp opposite the hospital to ensure that the Swiss population is aware of the financial disaster he has hatched in his country.

Mr. Biya and his government burn through money like wild fire. Reserves left by the country’s first president were exhausted in less than two years. Much of that money cannot be accounted for. The news about his hospitalization travelled very fast, reaching many Cameroonians who are so disappointed with a man whom they thought held out a lot of hope for them. Social media is awash with pictures and videos of the hospital in which he is hospitalized.

Mr. Biya’s poor and declining health is on many lips at the Unity Palace where many fear he might not make it this time around. His party members, especially those of the Central Committee, are working hard behind the scenes to ensure that if the inevitable happens, they will be able to have a candidate who will unite the party and win the upcoming presidential election.

Mr. Biya’s dismal economic and political performance is leaving him and his collaborators in a permanent state of confusion, especially as the presidential election is in the offing. They have nothing new to deliver to the electorate. Their lies have caught up with them. The pressure is on and opposition parties are making hay while the sun shines.

Added to this is the pressure from the international community about the deteriorating situation in Southern Cameroons. The pressure has exacerbated things, and with state coffers drying up very fast, the monarch is losing sleep. The Southern Cameroons crisis has been very disruptive. The pressure is on. Evaporating financial resources imply the government cannot prosecute its war in Southern Cameroons convincingly and its foreign allies are no more forthcoming financially.

The unnecessary war in Southern Cameroons is taking up a huge part of the state’s budget and with no end in sight; the government is in for rough times. Southern Cameroonian fighters are as heady as ragweed. They keep on resurfacing on turf the government erroneously thinks it is its own. The road ahead is long, rough and bumpy. The signs are not good both for Mr. Biya’s health and the economy. The country is really going through a rough patch.

In Southern Cameroons, kids are not going to school and courts have been on and off as Southern Cameroonians fighters have been threatening to kill anybody who violates their injunction against the resumption of schools. With September fast approaching, the government knows that the international community will once more focus on the resumption of schools in the two English-speaking regions of the country.

There is also another concern. The presidential election is spreading fear among the population. Southern Cameroonians are simply not taking part in what they call a foreign election. At best, they consider the election a sham. The armed groups have already put out their message regarding this election. If you vote, yours will be the kingdom of death. Many Southern Cameroonians are aware of this and their apathy about the election is easy to notice.

Even government officials from the English-speaking regions are not keen on going to their constituency to campaign. They are aware of their fate. They have been warned and there is a huge price on their heads. The pressure is unbearable for many local administrative officials. Many chiefs are quietly abdicating. Many are seeking refuge either in Nigeria or East Cameroon. They are simply in exile. Senior government officials, for their part, are keeping a very low profile and many have already been kidnapped and taken to Southern Cameroonian “green jails”.

But it is the demise of State corporations in Southern Cameroons that might hammer in the last nail into the ruling party’s coffin. PAMOL has folded up. CDC is staring down the barrel of bankruptcy. The once upon-a-time goose that laid the golden egg has finally been brought down by a conflict it knows nothing about.

SONARA, for its part, is underperforming. Falling oil production coupled with declining oil prices have hurt the Yaoundé government big time. Its revenue streams are gradually drying up. CDC, PAMOL and SONARA constitute the government’s Automatic Teller Machines (ATM). These machines are simply out of service and this has hit the government like a ton of bricks.

Things may take a turn for the worse if Southern Cameroonian fighters follow through with their promise of sabotaging SONARA facilities and equipment. For more than 40 years, oil from Southern Cameroons has been lining the pockets of a few politicians in Yaoundé while the locals where the oil fields are located are still wallowing in abject poverty. To Southern Cameroonian fighters, ruining SONARA equipment and facilities will finally bring the government to its knees, after all, only a few politicians and their children have been enjoying this manna that God had given to the country.

The pressure is mounting on all fronts and the Southern Cameroonian Diaspora is not letting up. A protest in Washington over the weekend has sent shock waves down the ruling party’s spine. The unity of purpose displayed by the various factions involved in the Southern Cameroons crisis has struck fear into the government’s mind.

The Yaoundé government is not indifferent to this. Shortly after the demonstration, the country’s Prime Minister, Yang Philemon, immediately called a meeting at the Star Building (Prime Minister’s Office) to examine the reputational damage the government might have suffered as a result of the demonstration.

The demonstration, which was attended by thousands of Southern Cameroonians and sympathizers in front of the White House, has given the Cameroon government a very bad name. The event has prompted the U.S.A Congress to take a fresh look at the Yaoundé government that has been slaughtering its own people for close to a year.

The Trump Administration has been gathering evidence against a regime that has been anything but efficient. The numerous online videos, which reveal how Cameroonian army soldiers are killing their fellow citizens, have resulted in the U.S.A government revoking some of its military agreements with the Yaoundé government. Things seem to be falling apart for a government that is bedeviled by numerous challenges. The government is cash-strapped and some of its military partners are abandoning it mid-stream.

But the streak of bad news is not yet over. The U.S.A Congress will, in the coming days, deliver a deadly blow to the Yaoundé government whose human rights abuses across the country have drawn a lot of criticism from the international community. This streak of bad news has kept the ruling party permanently on edge.

With a presidential election less two months away, the ruling party is in a very bad shape. The debates about the country’s future are already underway, but the ruling party’s natural candidate and champion is battling for his life in a Swiss hospital.

Though Mr. Biya has never really campaigned, it is believed that his presence in the country could give his dying party a shot in the arm. So far, only his surrogates have been ranting on national TV and many cannot even convince a wary electorate. The political lies of the past have made the electorate sadder, but wiser, and the country’s current freedom of speech is enabling opposition parties to put the ruling party’s failings on the table for all to see. This has left senior members of the ruling CPDM with a bunch butterflies in their stomachs.

In a secret email to the Cameroon Intelligence Report’s global headquarters in the United Kingdom, a senior CPDM official said that it was time for the baton of power to change hands. The official who elected anonymity pointed out that without a change of personalities at the helm of state affairs, the country will continue its relentless slide down the path of economic and political crises.

“The current political leadership has failed Cameroonians. I am a member of the ruling party, but this does not imply that I must shy away from the truth. As a nation, we can make giant strides towards sustainable development, but this cannot happen with the current crop of politicians who have made lies and deceit their stock in trade. The ruling party must change its way. We are in this unfortunate situation because my party has flouted all the rules of good governance and economic planning. We need to rethink our strategies if we want to retain power. We are to blame for many of the things that have gone wrong with our beloved country,” he said.

Last week, another CPDM insider also delivered an ominous message to his own party in a secret interview with the Cameroon Intelligence Report. He chided his party for the country’s economic malaise, adding that his party chairman, Paul Biya, is a juggernaut that ruins anything in his path.

The member of the party’s central committee hinted Cameroon Intelligence Report that his party was gradually falling apart just as Mr. Biya himself who is gradually yielding to a failing heart and a distended prostrate. The party needs to carry out some fundamental changes, he said, adding that the country itself needed an extreme makeover. A sea change in economic policies will enable the crumbling economy to once more find its feet, he said.

“Our party which many erroneously think it is a great party is coming apart. The internal succession battles are ripping the party apart. With Mr. Biya’s health going south, it is clear that his days are numbered. He has been the one holding the party together and now that many party members suspect his health is failing him, they think that someone else should replace him so that the party can have a fair chance at the upcoming presidential election. Mr. Biya seems to wield a lot of power both within the party and the country, but honestly, he is not the person running the show. The country is in very unsafe hands and those who have warmed their way into Mr. Biya’s heart are clearly mismanaging things,” the desperate CPDM Central Committee Member said.

He added that “what our country is going through today in the two English-speaking regions of the country clearly offer us a manual on how best to mismanage a problem. We have already lost more than 2,000 young men and women, including our uniformed officers who should have not been sent to the English-speaking regions in the first place. We of the ruling party must learn how to listen to our people if we have to endear ourselves to the population.”

He also added that “I will never say this in public, but I think the arrogance that has become the hallmark of my party is due to the fact that we have always rigged elections. If the people actually had to decide on who has to win elections, I think my fellow party members will learn how to be humble. Arrogance and greed are suffocating our country and the ruling party. Some people think the country belongs to them and anybody who holds a contrary view is immediately branded a terrorist. That is not how to run a country and a party. We have only succeeded to transform Cameroonians into our enemies and this gives the opposition parties a clear advantage.”

Cameroon, he underscored, was headed in the wrong direction. “We cannot continue to slaughter each other and the president is behaving as if nothing is happening. He has lost total control of how to address this huge fire that he ignited when he declared war on Southern Cameroonians. From every indication, it is clear that the government has not got a plan to put an end to this crisis. The soldiers are all trembling and the fighters on the ground have succeeded to intimidate everybody. Many of my colleagues who are either senators or parliamentarians are all scared of going to their constituencies. They know what awaits them out there. They have been working with the corrupt government to rob the people of their happiness and the time of reckoning has come. None of them can really stand up to the people’s scrutiny.”

“We all are scared. The country is gradually imploding and if we are not careful, we may go the way of many of our neighbours. I am not from Southern Cameroons or Ambazonia, but the pain and suffering the crisis in that region is spinning into the French-speaking part of the country is a great concern even to the president. With huge crowds moving into East Cameroon, it is clear that the Amba boys or whatever they are called could use that opportunity to set up shop in many of our big cities. This is no good news for many of us who really want a peaceful resolution of this problem.”

“The fear is all the more unbearable when we see those videos of people being shot and killed at point blank in the country’s northern region. What will northerners be thinking of the country’s military which is predominantly Beti? The international community has clearly lost faith in us. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International are working hard to expose our government’s brutality and lack of respect for human life. I am indeed at a loss for words. The evil I see in our country leaves me awake all night. We cannot continue to pretend as if we are not human beings. If we cannot deal with the situation, then we should let the United Nations to come in and put an end to the needless killings that are giving our country a very bad name,” he regretted.

In his view, while Cameroon is falling apart, the country’s president is in Geneva, Switzerland, in search of proper medical attention for his failing heart and prostrate. He stressed that the 85-year-old monarch, who had presided over his country’s destiny for almost 36 years, had been dealing with a failing health for more than ten years and his country of choice when it comes to treatment is Switzerland.

“The president is suffering. His health is a serious issue to his collaborators and many fear that he might not make it to the end of the year. He is suffering from shortness of breath and he can barely stand and walk. His wife and children are all in fear, as the 85-year-old has been spotting a sorrowful and lonely figure. There is bad news on the horizon. The fear is that if the president disappears from the scene, there could be some chaos in the country. For now, there is a lot of confusion and many of his collaborators have already begun jockeying for recognition as the next-of-kin even when the constitution is clear about what will happen in the event of a vacancy,” our source said.

He chided the president for failing to build a state-of-the-art medical facility in his country. He said the president was more interested in his own well-being instead of working for every Cameroonian to feel safe at home.

“What does he think other Cameroonians are saying about him? Each time he is sick, he heads abroad for treatment. What if other leaders had not developed their own medical facilities? He behaves as if he is a special being. We are all human and it is wrong for him to be misusing state funds for his health. Cameroon deserves better. We have the human resources and our financial resources can grant us even the best medical facility in the world. We have a leadership crisis and Mr. Biya has clearly demonstrated that the fate of his compatriots is not important to him. How many women still die in our country while giving birth? How many children die even before attaining five years? We need new leadership in this country. We need people who can reverse some of the destruction the current government has wreaked on our people. You may not believe me. The CPDM has people with great vision, but they are hardly ever given a chance to display what they are capable of doing. Once this group of people leaves power, you will see a new CPDM,” he said.

The prognoses are truly gloomy for the ruling party and Cameroon. If no real changes are implemented, the economy will bottom out. Last week, major rating agencies delivered bad news to Cameroonians. It was another blow to the liver of the struggling economy.

The country’s economy is in a total mess. Major rating agencies of the world have just delivered bad news to Cameroonians. Their government is no longer credit-worthy and any loans delivered to the country, will come with a huge price tag.

Currently, Standard & Poor’s credit rating for Cameroon stands at B with a stable outlook. Moody’s for its part, rates the Central African country at B2 with a negative outlook. Fitch’s credit rating for Cameroon was last reported at B with stable outlook. Generally, a credit rating is used by sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and other investors to gauge the credit worthiness of a country like Cameroon. The lasting ratings thus have a huge impact on the country’s borrowing costs.

The ratings by these agencies are indeed a big punch to the country’s liver. Receiving a downgrade from Moody’s is the worst thing that can be happening at this time to a struggling country like Cameroon.  The change from stable to negative is a clear indication that the country’s economic indicators are trending very low.

A downgrade simply implies that credit rating agencies no longer have confidence in Cameroon’s financial future and its ability to continue servicing its debts. In other words, Cameroon’s default risk on its debts is getting higher by the day and even more worrying for Yaoundé is Moody’s reason for such a negative rating.

According to Moody’s, persistent political instability (the Southern Cameroons Crisis) in the country is a major worrying factor. In the agency’s view, there is heightened uncertainty. Credit ratings are like red flags to potential lenders. They give an idea to lenders on a country’s ability to pay back its debt. This implies that the lower the country’s credit rating, the less likely that institution will be willing to lend money to such a country.

This is a warning that should wake up the sleeping government in Yaoundé that is wont to doing only the wrong things. With that warning and the deterioration of things in the two English-speaking regions of the country, it is time for Mr. Biya and his men to take a totally different direction if they do not want the country to implode. But the fear remains. Will Mr. Biya come back alive to clean up the Augean Stable he has created?

By Kingsley Betek