Southern Cameroons Crisis: More bad news in the offing
It never rains, but it pours. Cameroonians and Cameroon are in for tough times. The country’s future is gradually heading to the rocks. The monarch’s health is fast deteriorating and this does not augur well for a country that is already mired in political and military chaos that is tearing the people apart.
On Tuesday, the very first results from tests carried out on Mr. Biya 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 becoming an issue to his close collaborators.
Many of Mr. Biya’s 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.
But bad news always travels very fast. Like lies, bad news loves flying and news of 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 that will unite the party and win the upcoming presidential election.
Cameroon Intelligence Report has been reliably informed that the ruling party’s ailing secretary general, Jean Nkuete, has been worried over the last few days. While putting a brave face in public, the secretary-general who has been scarred by vitiligo, has been displaying some signs of frustration and anger. He has been Mr. Biya’s major pawn in their game to keep power for decades. But with the monarch’s health failing, Mr. Nkuete knows that the young hawks in the government might elbow him out of the corridors of power.
Ruling party stalwarts know that there is bad news in the offing. Their party has not endeared itself to the people of Cameroon. Its mismanagement of the economy has hurt many Cameroonians and this is no good news for a party that is looking forward to re-election. Although the ruling CPDM has never really won an election, it is scared that with millions of voters clearly displaying their frustration with the party, their rigging machinery may not deliver the results they expect.
The fear within the ruling party is huge. The Southern Cameroons crisis that has put the country in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons has hurt the ruling party in a big way. The ruling party has clearly mismanaged a protest, giving it a chance to grow into a full blown civil war.
A member of the ruling CPDM has aptly captured the mood in the country and party. In a secret interview with the Cameroon Intelligence Report correspondent in Yaounde, the party stalwart, who elected to be anonymous, said the country could spiral out of country if care was not taken. He took a swipe at the president whom, he said, behaved as if nothing was happening in the country. He chided his colleagues in parliament and senate who had done everything possible to ensure that the Southern Cameroons crisis did not get discussed in both houses.
The member of the party’s central committee hinted Cameroon Intelligence Report that the 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 neighbors. 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 having not built a state-of-the-art medical facility in his country. He said the president was more interested in his own wellbeing 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 leave power, you will see a new CPDM,” he said.
But it is not only the political front that bears bad news for Cameroonians. 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 is 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 Yaounde 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 institutions will be willing to lend money to such a country.
It should be recalled that as Southern Cameroonians threaten to walk away from their ‘political marriage’ with East Cameroon, this is sowing uncertainty in the minds of many potential investors, especially those who have a huge interest in the country’s oil and gas sectors.
If Southern Cameroonians succeed to walk away, then Cameroon will be losing about 60% of its wealth. Southern Cameroons is blessed with enormous wealth and the Yaounde government holds that it is by terrorizing Southern Cameroonians that it will succeed to keep them under control and in ignorance of what is happening to their resources.
It should also be noted that for almost 50 years, the Rio Del Rey estuary in the South West region of Cameroon has been the source of more than 90% and at times 100% of all the country’s hydrocarbons, specifically oil. Since 2014, Cameroon has exported more than US$5.88 billion worth of products, of which more than US$2.65 billion, about CFAF 1,650 billion, has been from crude oil alone. This is a significant amount of money and the Yaounde government cannot afford to lose such revenues.
The government is scared, especially as the possibility of a secession is there. All its efforts to lay the matter to rest have been futile. Its divide-and-rule strategy has simply fallen apart as North westerners and South westerners clearly understand that they are united for a purpose that will bring them happiness and prosperity. Not even the government’s military violence has succeeded to take the wind out of the fighters’ sail. The more the government kills, the more determined the fighters become.
And the chaos that is playing out in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon has given Moody’s more fodder for its cannon. Rating agencies have always called the Yaounde government to reason. The government’s legendary mismanagement has been a cause for concern for this rating agencies and international development finance institutions which have always urged Yaounde to be more transparent in the management of its oil revenue.
Cameroon is in for rough times both politically and economically. As the health of the country’s president continues to become a huge concern, many investors will be holding off on their plans to invest. The situation has been complicated by the bad news from Moody’s. Cameroon is not credit-worthy. That is the message from the rating agency and investors have to beware of a country that is incapable of improving its political and economic environment.
The government is not reliable and it lacks the means to put out an insurgency that started like a simple protest. The chaos in the country’s English-speaking regions and Boko Haram’s relentless bombing of ordinary citizens in the country’s northern part, are not giving Cameroon a good name. Investors love peace, but Cameroon is only capable of delivering chaos. Investors will therefore not be putting their money in a place rating agencies now consider as a black hole. Cameroonians have to take their government to task if things have to change. If things continue the way they are, then the country is heading for a possible political and economic implosion.
By Kingsley Betek