By Joe Dinga Pefok
The last few months in Cameroon politics have seen the emergence of political dynasties in both the ruling CPDM party as well as in the opposition.
On May 11, Nicky Love Maptue Fotso, daughter of the late CPDM baron and Mayor of Pete-Bandjoun in Koung–hi Division of the West Region, Victor Fotso, replaced her late father as Mayor. This came on the heels of two quick dynastical successions in the CDU, where Patricia Hermine Tomaino Ndam Njoya, wife of late Dr. Adamou Ndam Njoya, first replaced the then-ailing husband as Mayor of Foumban, following the February 9, 2020 Municipal Elections, and then moved on to replace the husband as National President of CDU, following his passing on.
From all indications, these successions were well designed to happen the way they did.
With the case of Ndam Njoya’s wife succeeding him, he started building this political dynasty back in 2007. Before then, the National President of the CDU, Dr. Ndam Njoya, accumulated the posts of Mayor of Foumban Urban Council and MP for Noun Central Constituency.
But when the law against the accumulation of posts became effective for Members of Parliament before the 2007 twin elections (Legislative and Municipal elections), the all-powerful National President of the CDU, Dr. Ndam Njoya, chose to run in the Municipal elections as head of the CDU list for the Foumban Municipality. Then, he brought in his wife to replace him as head of the CDU list for the Noun Central Constituency in the Legislative elections. The indisputable fief of the CDU has, since the rebirth of multi-party politics, been Foumban, in particular, and Noun Division, in general.
After the 2007 twin elections, Dr Ndam Njoya maintained his post as Mayor of the Foumban Urban Council, while his wife became MP for the Noun Central Constituency. Both husband and wife maintained their posts as Mayor and MP after the 2013 legislative elections.
Ndam Njoya became sick, with the illness keeping him away from campaigns for the 2018 Presidential elections in which he was one of the candidates. Then came the February 9, 2020 Legislative and Municipal elections, and it was rumoured that the health of the CDU leader had so much deteriorated. His name still appeared as the leader of the CDU list for the Municipal elections in Foumban, and, curiously enough, his wife’s name appeared third on the list, though she was still the head of the CDU list for the Parliamentary elections in the Noun Central Constituency. After the February 9 twin elections, Ndam Njoya’s wife, in what was certainly a family arrangement, gave up her Parliamentary seat to her alternate and replaced the husband as Mayor of Foumban Urban Council.
Violation Of CDU Constitution
The succession by Ndam Njoya’s wife to the office of Mayor of the Foumban, made it clear to many, that the CDU leader’s health had deteriorated to a point where he could not continue as Mayor of Foumban, and so had decided that his wife should takeover. It was clear that Ndam Njoya valued the post of Mayor of Foumban to be more important and strategic to the family, in a bid to maintain their political dynasty in Foumban Municipality, than a Parliamentary seat.
Ndam Njoya died shortly after the wife took over as Mayor of Foumban. But there was a problem for Ndam Njoya’s family, which was the post of National President of CDU, which he had occupied since he created the party in 1991. The CDU Constitution clearly states that, in case of the passing away or the National President of the party or his incapacity, the Vice National President takes over as the interim National President, till the party’s next National Convention. Douala-based Georges Sam Mbaka, as Vice National President of the party, was, thus, expected to take over as interim National President, till the next National Convention of the CDU, in 2021.
It seemingly became difficult for Ndam Njoya’s wife, and the many Bamouns who dominated the National Execution Bureau of the CDU, to see someone else, and worst of all a non-Bamoun, take over the leadership of the party, even if it will be just for a year. The long-serving Vice National President of the CDU, Sam Mbaka, is of the Bassa tribe.
Despite the CDU Constitution, there was a CDU meeting in Foumban, during which Patricia Hermine Tomaino Ndam Njoya was designated to replace the late husband as the National President of the party. The Vice National President of the CDU, Sam Mbaka, did not attend the meeting.
Vice National President Speaks Out
Talking to the press in Douala recently, after a period of silence, Sam Mbaka dismissed rumours that he has left the CDU following the violation or manipulation of the party’s constitution to make the wife of the late National President of the party, to replace her husband. He said he remained a committed militant of the CDU as well as Vice National President of the party. Mbaka, who explained that he has been a member of the CDU since the party was created in 1991, and had all along been a close and reliable collaborator of the late National President, Dr. Ndam Njoya. He confirmed that CDU’s Constitution is clear on the case of the death or incapacity of the National President, the Vice National President takes over as interim National President, till the next National Convention of the party.
But the Vice National President disclosed that it became clear to him, after the unfortunate passing of Dr. Ndam Njoya, that a majority of the members of the National Executive Bureau of the CDU did not want him to take over as the interim National President. He cautioned against any member of the party trying to give the impression to the public that CDU is a Bamoun or a Noun party, reiterating the fact that he had a very good relationship with Ndam Njoya, as well as believed in his policy of ethics. Sam Mbaka said he has no problem with late Ndam Njoya’s wife. He hoped that he and Mrs. Ndam Njoya will eventually meet and talk.
CPDM Hierarchy Endorses Fotso’s Daughter
The succession process at the CPDM-run Pete-Bandjoun Council started with Nicky Love Maptue Fotso, daughter of business magnate and Mayor of Pete-Bandjoun, Victor Fotso, entering the CPDM list that was headed by her father for the February 9, 2020 Municipal elections in Pete-Bandjoun Municipality. Victor Fotso, a personal friend of President Biya, was sick, and with his health situation deteriorating, he, with the backing of the CPDM hierarchy, found it imperative to begin preparing the ground for his daughter to take over as Mayor of Pete-Bandjoun, in case he passed away. Victor Fotso himself was absent from the Municipal elections campaigns in Pete-Bandjoun due to poor health, but the daughter, who was seen in Bandjoun CPDM as representing the father, took up a frontline role in the campaigns.
When after the February 9 Municipal elections at which the CPDM, again, won in Pete-Bandjoun Council, Fotso, who was sick in France, was re-elected Mayor of Bandjoun, while his daughter was, significantly, designated by the CPDM hierarchy as the 1st Deputy Mayor. It was, thus, clear that things were designed this way so that Fotso’s daughter, and no one else, should be the one running the Bandjoun Council whenever the father, who probably due to age had developed poor health, was absent.
Not long after Fotso’s daughter was designated 1st Deputy Mayor, he passed away in France. The foundation of the Fotso dynasty at the Bandjoun Council had been laid.
President Biya’s Choice
When fresh election to the post of Mayor of the Pete–Bandjoun Council was announced for May 11, following the death of Mayor Fotso Victor, the daughter, Nicky Love Maptue, then 1st Deputy Mayor, put up her candidature. However, two other strong candidatures were put forward; David Kegne, who is the President of Stade Banjoun FC, and Emmanuel Chatue, the CEO of Canal 2 International. The General Secretariat of the CPDM Central Committee designated the daughter of late Fotso as the party’s candidate. She was also said to be the choice of the National President of the CPDM, Paul Biya.
The two other candidates, nevertheless, maintained their candidatures. The former Minister of Defense, Edouard Akame Mfoumou, who the CPDM hierarchy assigned to Bandjoun as the representative of the CPDM Central Committee, was reportedly given the firm instruction to ensure that Fotso’s daughter emerges new Mayor of Pete—Bandjoun.
In Bandjoun, Akame Mfoumou reportedly carried out a series of behind-the-scenes negotiations, before the elections. Following the negotiations, David Kegne accepted to withdraw his candidature and get the post of 1st Deputy Mayor, which was to become vacant after Fotso’s daughter became Mayor. Emmanuel Chatue also accepted to withdraw his candidature, with a promise by the General Secretariat of the Central Committee of the CPDM, that he will be the party’s candidate from the area at the regional elections. So, in the election that followed, Maptue Fotso was elected unopposed to succeed the late father as Mayor of Pete-Bandjoun.
Can Frank Replace Biya?
From the foregoing, political observers and analysts are expressing the fear that what is happening whereby there is manipulation, including even the CDU Constitution, for the wife of Dr. Ndam Njoya to replace her husband both as Mayor of Founban and National President of the CDU, as well as the manipulation which saw the daughter of Mayor Fotso Victor emerge as 1st Deputy Mayor, and has now replaced the late father as Mayor, might inspire President
Biya to think of having his son, Franck Biya, succeed him as President of the Republic. It happened in Togo and in neighbouring Gabon, both being Francophone countries. It has now happened in Cameroon’s opposition.
It has been rumoured in recent years that Franck Biya was being groomed by the father to succeed him as President of the Republic. The rumour even became strong in March and April. It is, however, true that Franck Biya is not known to have ever shown interest in politics or in being a member of Government. He is said to be more interested in business.
But many people are quick to argue that, in Cameroon, anything can happen. They argue that with what has happened with Fotso’s daughter succeeding him as Mayor and Ndam Njoya’s wife replacing him as Mayor and as National President of the CDU, there can be a Biya dynasty. The fact that such succession has happened within an opposition party, is really bad for Cameroon’s democracy as it will make things difficult for the opposition to criticise the ruling CPDM or the regime if it tries to impose such a political dynasty at the helm of the State. It will say that the opposition has no moral authority to criticise the regime. And it will be difficult for CDU, in particular, to complain.