Fellow Cameroonians I am Dr, Simon Munzu speaking to you on behalf of the Anglophone Cameroon Dialogue Forum, ACDF. Today, October 16, 2017, I want to talk to you about the delegations the Prime Minister and head of Government has sent to visit the people of the Northwest and Southwest Regions between 15 and 24 October 2017. This visit, according to a press release from the Prime Minister’s office is on the instructions of the Head of State.
It is now 12 months since the current socio-political crisis in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon started. In these 12 months, many innocent lives have been lost, civil liberties have been eroded, property has been destroyed, the people’s economic activities and social life as well access to internet have been disrupted. When the territory of the Southern Cameroons united with that of the Republic of Cameroon on October 1 1961, to form a new state, the Federal Republic of Cameroon, they brought into this union of equal partners its own heritage in such areas as, democratic politics and governance, justice, education, public administration, maintenance of law and order, the economy, infrastructure and culture. In the light of this, the light of the Anglophone problem today, this has given rise to the current Anglophone crisis, lies in the facts that, for 56 years, this system has been purposely and systematically dismantled. For 56 years, Anglophones in Cameroon have been marginalized, dominated and subjugated.
They have the need to feel as a conquered people, as second class citizens in their own country. On October 1, 2017, and for several days after, state security forces used firearms against peaceful and unarmed civilians in towns and villages in the two Anglophone Regions, pursuing them in some cases even into holy places such as Churches and other places of divine worship. The dead are still being discovered, counted and buried in our towns and villages. No one knows exactly how many they are. The wounded and the maimed are still being treated. No one knows where, how, with what and by who. They disappeared are not yet accounted for. No one anywhere, knows how many exactly they are. The traumatized are still to be psychologically rehabilitated. No one knows how long this would take or who would pay for the care given them, for several months or even years.
Fellow Cameroonians, it is in the midst of all these that the Prime Minister and Head of Government decided to organize delegations to visit and commune with the population of the Northwest and Southwest Regions, as instructed by the Head of State. We want to ask the following questions: Mr. Prime Minister and members of the 13 delegations sent to all Divisions of the Northwest and Southwest Regions. During two full weeks of killing, wounding, maiming, disappearance of Anglophones and destruction of their property in your home Regions in the North and Southwest from October 1 to October 15, 2017, what did you do for your suffering people? You did not speak up for them; you did not protect them from the ravages of state violence; you did not even visit and commune with them until now, you were instructed by the Head of State to do so.
Should we conclude from this, that you would never have come to your own Regions in these circumstances if the Head of State had not instructed you to do so? Are you that unconcerned about the fate, suffering and hardship of your own people? How are the people of the Northwest and Southwest Regions supposed to interpret the fact that, in 12 months of socio political upheavals, killings, wounding, maiming, disappearances, destruction of property and abuse of basic human rights, the Council of Ministers chaired by the Head of State has not convened even once to discuss this crisis. In 12 months, this crisis has not been discussed even once in any of the monthly cabinet meetings chaired by the Prime Minister who is an Anglophone. In 12 months, neither the Senate nor the National Assembly whose members are said to represent the people and most of which are dominated by the ruling party, including many senior ranking Anglophones has debated the Anglophone problem at any of its sessions. In 12 months, none of the governing organs has been summoned even once, to examine the Anglophone crisis.
Mr. Prime Minister, why are your delegations that are meant to visit and commune with all the people of the Northwest and Southwest Regions made up exclusively of members or sympathizers of the ruling party the CPDM? If Cameroon is truly one and indivisible, why is your delegation made up of natives of the Anglophone Region alone? Are our Francophone brothers and sisters especially those of the ruling CPDM so unconcerned about the people of the Southwest and Northwest Regions that they would not want like you, to visit and commune with them? Honorable Prime Minister, if you consider the undeclared but very effective state of emergency that prevails in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, if you consider the high level of militarization, and if you consider the continuous lamentation of the people of these Regions, over the dead, wounded and the disappeared, what is the normalcy to which you say you and your delegation have been instructed by the Head of State to encourage these two Regions to return to? How do you and the elite accompanying you ensure that there are conditions for the return of normalcy in these two Regions? Do you have the power or the authority to do this? What dialogue do you propose to have with the people of the two Anglophone Regions? What would make the dialogue as you wish it constructive? If you and members of your delegation, being Anglophone, Anglophone Ministers, Anglophone Prime Minister, Anglophone office holders, Anglophone Senators, Anglophone Members of the National Assembly and Anglophone traditional rulers, if you dialogue with the population as envoys of the Head of State, who then would represent the Anglophone people with this dialogue with you?
By the way, why are you the people dialoguing with the people of the Anglophone Regions? Are you in dispute with your own people? Do you have a problem with your own people which you hope to solve and resolve through dialogue? When it comes to dialogue over the ongoing Anglophone crisis, are you supposed to be the Head of State’s envoys to your suffering people or your suffering people’s envoys to the Head of State? Which is the agenda for this constructive dialogue as you call it, that you have embarked upon? How is the dialogue to be conducted? What is its expected outcome? How binding will its conclusions be? Would several delegations go to all 13 Divisions of the Northwest and Southwest Regions at the same time? What consistency would the content of the dialogue have across the two Anglophone Regions?
Honorable Prime Minister, could it be that this hastily conducted dialogue with the people of the Northwest and Southwest Regions has been prompted by the need for the Head State and the Government to be able to report to some prominent personalities who are scheduled to visit Cameroon next week? That dialogue between the Government and the Anglophone people that was recommended by the international community took place between October 15 to October 24 2017? Honorable Prime Minister, for 56 years the people of Southern Cameroons, West Cameroon and now Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon have been asking for dialogue concerning their fate since the beginning of the union of their territory with that of the Republic of Cameroon in 1961. In over five decades, their call for dialogue has been systematically ignored by the ruling elites in Yaoundé who have called them unpatriotic, secessionist, extremist and of late terrorist and dogs. Now that the governing elites in Yaoundé appear to have accepted the need for dialogue, the people of the Northwest and Southwest believe strongly that the time for dialogue has come indeed. However, the only dialogue, worth having now is that which would lead us, to put an end peacefully and forever, to domination, subjugation, marginalization of the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon and their people by the governing elites in Yaoundé. In this connection, on Friday, October 13, 2017, the Anglophone Cameroon Dialogue Forum delivered a letter by email to the President of the Republic, calling on him to convene a national dialogue on the Anglophone problem and transmitting to him a document entitled “The civil society programme for the national dialogue of the Anglophone problem in Cameroon.” That document is now available for the wide population of the people at home and abroad. Prior to attending the national dialogue, the people of the Northwest and Southwest Regions would meet in a preparatory conference reminiscent of the AAC 1 in 1993 and AAC 1 in 1994 which some may want to call AAC. In that preparatory conference, they would agree on the set of issues to be tabled on the national dialogue on the Anglophone problem which is expected to be convened by or with the instructions of the Head of State. They would also on that occasion designate the people to represent them at the national dialogue.
Fellow Cameroonians, our constitution stipulates that Cameroon is one and indivisible, but if this unity and indivisibility of Cameroon are to be more than just constitutional slogans, they must rest on the paradigm of one nation, two systems. Fellow Cameroonians, as I said in the beginning, I brought this message on behalf of the Anglophone Cameroon Dialogue Forum, ACDF. The ACDF is a civil society organization. It emerged in March 2017. As a network of Cameroonian individuals, and groups in Cameroon or abroad that are committed in finding a lasting solution to the Anglophone problem through genuine, frank, inclusive and comprehensive national dialogue. The network comprises of individual members of political parties, professional associations, women and youth groups, associations of traditional rulers, religious bodies and other interested parties.
By Dr. Simon Elvis Munzu