Francophone Activists Turn on the Heat on the Biya Regime & France: Demonstrate in Paris

In times of uncertainty, it has long been argued, the most potent weapon to guarantee victory is building alliances. The seventh suggestion I made to the Anglophone leaders who met in Washington DC last weekend, was the need to form alliances with other oppressed people – especially Francophones.

The logic is simple, we may have different visions of what we want, but we have common enemies. For the Francophone in Cameroon, it is the dysfunctional regime of Dictator Paul Biya, while to those from other countries, it is the imperialism of France.

Whether the Anglophone leaders considered doing anything of this nature is left to be seen. However, the idea has clearly been piloted both by Emmanuel Kemta, who during last Sunday’s attack on Biya, constantly referred to the killing of Anglophones; and today, but Francophones both from Cameroon and other countries such as Gabon and Congo, who demonstrated in front of the Cameroon Embassy in Paris.

The demonstrators where unanimous in the condemnation of the brutal massacre of English-Speaking Cameroonians. They were also very vocal in condemning the other atrocities perpetrated by the Biya regime among women and children in other parts of the country.

Talking to one of the organisers, he confirmed that they are guided by the principle that by working with others, all oppressed people can easily win against oppression than if they were working on their own. He said this was the beginning of a movement that was hoped will spread across all French-Speaking African countries. Their broad objective is not only to condemn the dictatorships that seem to be more rampant in Francophone Africa, but also to ensure the destruction of the Francs CFA.

It should be noted that Fourteen Countries in Africa currently subjected to the use of the French currency. There are four fundamental principles guiding France’s relationship with the CFA countries. These are captured succinctly by Pierre Canac and Rogelio Garcia-Contreras in an article in the Journal of Asian and African Studies (February 2011).

  1. The French Treasury guarantees without limits, the convertibility of the two CFA francs.
  2. The two CFA francs are convertible at a fixed exchange into French francs [now euros],”. So France abandoned the French Francs but we are stuck with the CFA Franc. Also, the fixed exchange rate can change, but only when France approves.
  3. Despite plenty of restrictions, there are no de jure controls on the movements of capital within the [CFA] zone.”
  4. The CFA zone members must “pool together a minimum of 65% of their international reserves, corresponding to 20% of the monetary base of each central bank, into an operations account at the French Treasury”.

There is therefore hope not only for Cameroonians – Anglophones and Francophones alike – but also for the whole of French Africa, should this movement gain momentum, and lead to the true liberation of French-Africa from the clutches of imperialism.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s win: A New Dawn or Continuation of a Legacy?

As the dust settles on the confirmation of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s win in last month’s polls by Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court, one begins to wonder what exactly the future is for the country.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance and its candidate, Nelson Chamisa had brought a legal challenge saying the vote was impaired by “mammoth theft and fraud”. The rejection of this claim by the court has left Mr. Chamisa, with no alternative than to concede defeat.

It is alleged that despite accepting defeat, Nelson Chamisa has maintained that he will

Zimbabwe's President-Elect: Emmerson Mnangagwa
Zimbabwe’s President-Elect: Emmerson Mnangagwa

not refer to Emmerson Mnangagwa as president, but simply as ‘Mr’. Whatever the case, this confirmation of the election results means that 75-year-old Emmerson Mnangagwa remains as the 3rd President of Zimbabwe.

This election is Zimbabwe’s first since long-time President Robert Mugabe was ousted from power last year, in what can best be described as a ‘bloodless coup d’etat’. The question now remains as to whether this win marks a new dawn for Zimbabwean politics or it is simply a continuation of the last dispensation.

Sometime in 2011, I wrote a piece analysing the case of Zimbabwe. One of my conclusions then was that  “‘the central and dominant variable determining…developmental success or failure’ is politics. If there is any reason there is widespread poverty in Zimbabwe today, it is the poverty of its politics. This means that the solution cannot come from the same failed politics but from a “…more explicit…  integrated theory of political and economic development” which will take into account the different nuances that make up the complex and unique political entity called Zimbabwe”.

I think that my view today is not much different. People have been under the misguided impression that merely ousting Mugabe from power will usher in a new dawn for the development of the country. I felt and still feel that Mugabe’s exit, was a well-orchestrated plan to ensure that his successor is someone who will continue his legacy, without actually appearing to do so. I may be wrong, but if the current president has, throughout his political life, supported the same ideals as Mugabe, what is the guarantee that a mere change in his title will create a different vision. But, perhaps, by being voted in, he may well start bringing about policies that are aimed at improving the overall wellbeing of the masses, rather than just the political class. There is, however, no guarantee that this will happen, as has often been the case in most young African democracies.

Paul Collier has argued that the lack of checks and balances can lead democracies to make even more of a mess of a political situation than autocracies, for “…  it turns out that democracy is a little bit more complicated… Because there are two distinct aspects of democracy. There’s electoral competition, which determines how you acquire power, and there are checks and balances, which determine how you use power. It turns out that electoral competition is the thing that’s doing the damage with democracy… And so, what the countries of the bottom billion need is very strong checks and balances. They haven’t got them. They got instant democracy in the 1990s: elections without checks and balances.’

If Collier’s view is anything to go by, the current election of Emmerson Mnangagwa through electoral competition is just the first stage, and in fact, the less important one. The determining factor will be whether Zimbabwe has got the right checks and balances to ensure that the current president does not end up living a similar legacy of sitting tight when everything else around them is crumbling.

Julius Sello Malema, the leader of the South African far-left, Economic Freedom Fighters, has in one of his videos been heard to proclaim that Zimbabweans, will be the only African country in the next 10 years which will be truly independent. If this turns out to be the case, then one might agree that Mugabe might not have had a bad outcome after all. But this outcome is largely dependent on what Mugabe’s successor does. If there is true economic independence for Zimbabwe, then its current president has no excuse not to take the country into a new phase of its history.

The Two-State Federation Flag

Video Evidence of Fon Gorji-Dinka Acknowledging that a Treaty was Signed between Southern Cameroons and French Cameroun

After writing the piece in which I challenged some of the conclusions arrived at by Professor Carlson Anyangwe in his write-up on the Root Causes of the Anglophone Crisis, I received a lot of counter-challenges on social media. One issue that stood out from all these, was the Foumban Conference. Some were of the view that as nothing was signed following that conference, it did not warrant mention by the professor. Others were of the opinion that the plebiscite itself was a non-starter as it violated international law and some previous UNGA Resolutions.

Given that Carlson Anyangwe clearly acknowledges that the Plebiscite was legal, I decided to look into the issues of why Resolution 1608 of 21 April 1961 was not properly implemented. My greatest challenge was the fact that following the endorsement of the vote by the UN and the meeting of the leaders of the two Cameroons in July 1961 in Foumban, Southern Cameroons became West Cameroon and La Republique Du Cameroun became East Cameroon, in a Federal Structure. I was therefore at a loss as to what could have transpired between July 1961 and October 1961, that led Southern Cameroons to give up everything to French Cameroon.

This question seems to have been answered by a video in which Fon Gorj-Dinka acknowledges that there actually was a Treaty of Foumban. In this video, Gorji-Dinka can be heard quoting article one of that treaty. According to him, it is the treaty that gave rise to the Two-State Federation.

It is very logical, therefore, to conclude that there actually was an agreement between the two Cameroons, which was breached by Amadou Ahidjo in 1972. While Gorji-Dinka seeks redress by arguing that this breach, led to the cancellation of the new state and the ‘resurrection of the old ones that united to give it birth, I argue, as I did in my piece in response to Anyangwe, that the breach of 1972 is constitutional. The remedy for the breach of 1972, therefore, will be about getting the deal that Southern Cameroons got in Foumban.