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Is Mafany Musonge Losing Political Limelight? 

By Joe Dinga Pefok  

Supporters of the former Prime Minister, Peter Mafany Musonge, were plunged into ecstasy on March 15, 2017, when Presidential Decree No. 2017/095 appointed him President of the newly created National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism.        

Apparently, most of Musonge’s supporters initially thought that the March 15 appointment was just an additional ‘chop’ that President Biya had added to his plate.

Musonge was already Grand Chancellor, a Senator, the President of the CPDM Group in the Senate which is equivalent to the post of Vice President of the Senate, as well as the Southwest Regional Coordinator of the ruling CPDM. 

All these posts came, thanks to appointments by Biya either in his capacity as Head of State or as National President of the CPDM.

The same Biya had, before March 15, allowed Musonge to continue to accumulate functions in violation of the Law, reason why many of his supporters initially took the March 15 appointment as another additional ‘chop farm’.


It is now dawning on some supporters of Musonge that the March 15 appointment was not an additional post.  The post of President of the Bilingualism Commission has instead come to deprive Musonge of the other posts he occupied, as the text makes it clear that the post of President of the Commission is incompatible with any other post.  

Some of Musonge’s supporters are also reported to be now realising that his appointment as President of the Commission, was the result of a lobby by certain groups to knock off Musonge that President Biya appears to trust so much, and, possibly, put him out of the political limelight.

This is akin to the former Vice Chancellor of the University of Buea, Dr. Dorothy Njeuma, a then member of the Political Bureau of the ruling CPDM, who a powerful lobby group put out of the way as well as out of the political limelight by making her to be appointed member of Elections Cameroon, ELECAM.

This came at a time when there were lots of speculations and rumours that Njeuma was to be appointed Prime Minister to replace Chief Ephraim Inoni.    

President Of The Senate

Similarly, reliable sources close to the Presidency of the Republic hold that the initial plan which President Biya had early this year, was to appoint Musonge to the post of President of the Senate at the beginning of the ongoing session.  

This would have made Musonge the second personality in the country and would have also resolved one of the complaints of Anglophones that they have been relegated to the post of fourth personality. This follows the presumption that when the President of the Republic is a Francophone, the second personality should be an Anglophone, and vice versa.   

The Post also learnt that Musonge and his camp, had, on their part, also carried out a strong underground lobby for President Biya to designate him as President of the Senate, and that the lobby really came close to succeeding.

But the Musonge lobby was reportedly countered by two other strong lobbies that were also working underground to block his way from becoming President of the Senate.

For one thing, the appointment of Musonge as President of the Senate would have meant that the former Vice Prime Minister, Marcel Niat Njifenji, who is the President of the Senate, would have lost the post.

It would have also meant that the Bamilekes would have lost the post of second personality of the Republic.  There was also the fact that if Musonge became the President of the Senate, the current Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, who like Musonge, is an Anglophone, would have certainly been dropped.

Neither Niat nor Yang was willing to see that happen.


Anti-Musonge Campaigns

Some pro-Bamileke media organs apparently joined the campaign to fight for a Bamileke to be maintained in the post of President of the Senate, by coming out with stories about Musonge during the countdown to the start of the March session of the Senate.

In Douala, for example,  the lead story of a French language weekly, Forum Libre, on February 15, 2017, was titled, ’Crise Anglophone:  Peter  Mafany Musonge – Prochain Président du Senat?’ (Anglophone Crisis: Peter Mafany Musonge – Next President of the Senate?).

Some very negative things were said about Musonge in that article. That issue of the newspaper was so popular within the Bamileke communities in Douala, especially that of the Nde Division (Bangangte).


Niat ‘Re-elected’ Senate President

The fears of the Bamilekes that Musonge might become the President of the Senate, definitely vanished when, on March 15, he was appointed President of the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism, NCPBM.

When Niat was‘re-elected’ President of the Senate, there was a ‘spontaneous’ public march in Bangante to express thanks and support to President Biya.

But it would be recalled that even when Niat was designated or ‘voted’ as President of Senate in 2013, there was no such ‘spontaneous ‘march’.

In line with the text of the NCPBM, Musonge has already given up the post of President of CPDM Group in the Senate, with the beneficiary being a son of Manyu Division in the Southwest Region, Nfor Tabe Ntando, to whom the designation was definitely a dream come true.  Also, Gabriel Dima of Limbe, who was the alternate to Senator Musonge, has reportedly sent his file to the Senate, to replace Musonge.

It is also very likely that, considering the insistence in the text, that the post of President of the Commission is incompatible with any other post, Biya is likely to appoint someone else to replace Musonge as Grand Chancellor. Musonge may also likely be replaced as Southwest Regional Coordinator of the CPDM and may soon be left only with the post of President of the NCPBM.

A Commission which many Francophone intellectuals and analysts like Prof Claude Abe, Dr. Mathias Owona Nguini, Prof Claude Assira, and others, say will not achieve anything concrete for Cameroon.

This is because, Presidential Decree No. 2017/013 of 23 January, 2017, that created the NCPBM, is clear that the commission will merely be an advisory body to the Head of State and Government, in making recommendations.  As Prof Abe insists, the commission will not be a problem-solving commission.