Succession politics in Cameroon: Beware of McCarthyism!
June 23, 2014

Joseph McCarthy was one of the most corrupt politicians of his time. He exploited the scare about the prospect of communist subversion against the United States with the claim that he had a list of people in the State Department who were known members of the American Communist Party. He engaged in witch-hunts against innocent citizens he accused of being communist subversives. Today, "McCarthyism" refers to demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations of political adversaries and rivals; it also refers to public attacks on the integrity, character or patriotism of dissenting citizens.

Mark you, in Cameroon there is a succession cold war being fought within the ranks of people of power – people of the CPDM regime. Regime powerful daily circle one another, knife in hand, looking for the least opportunity to "finish them." They buy one journalist or the other, one press organ or the other, to do their dirty work against their perceived adversaries, or "enemies," or rivals. They use tracts, signed and unsigned letters, motions of support and other foul means to express their loyalty and worries, and to accuse and counter-accuse friends and foes. The most used weapon of blackmail is succession politics around their aged president-in-perpetuity, known to have a strong aversion for any thought about his succession.

Further, there is a Boko Haram scare in town! And we have started hearing noises about unnamed collabos. When we start hearing such noises in a regime that is one of the most tyrannical, most corrupt and repressive in the world, we have to beware of McCarthyism! Those making such noises about suspects only known to them should be watched closely. True, the fight against Boko Haram should involve a lot of secret strategies and tactics, but we should never lose sight of the possibility of regime barons turning such secrecy to a weapon of destruction against their perceived political adversaries, "enemies" or rivals.

Those who still doubt the tyrannical and repressive nature of the regime should ponder the recent arrest and detention in Fundong on 2nd April of members of the Cameroon Teachers Trade Union (CATTU) for the simple act of distributing tracts to sensitise their members about an impending strike, or the way in which Jean Michel Nitcheu, an SDF member of parliament, was recently harassed on 20th May for the simple act of carrying a banner that expressed an opinion that the regime did not like. They can also check the mindless act of ordering the release of a corruption suspect – arrested by the same regime – with the flimsy excuse that he is a member of government, while at the same time destabilising the football association (FECAFOOT) by arresting and locking up its elected president when an important event like the World Cup was in the offing!

And so there is the imminent return of the Lions to town. It is no longer news that we suffered a football debacle in Brazil. Rather than being an occasion to examine the lack of purpose, of shared vision, and of strategic vision that rendered all our strategic planning for the World Cup worthless, there are emotional people all over the place, shouting the names of those whose heads should fall! Football is not an old boys’ network where you get ahead because of money or connections – like is the case in all domains of Cameroon society today. It is a world where victory comes from talent and performance. By the end of the football fiesta in Brazil, those who do the right analysis will realise that the victors will be those who combined talent and preparation. Such preparation is not about those fruitless friendly matches played just before the World Cup. It is about providing infrastructure for identifying talented children early and honing their skills to ensure that they meet the magic number for excellence in football, like in any other profession, of ten thousand hours of practice before they become real stars. They will realise that those who will go home with the cup are those with players that have practiced the most in their lifetime, continuously from childhood to the professional level. They will confirm the old saying that achievement is talent plus preparation, with preparation playing a greater role. Our players may have enough ability to get into top football clubs abroad, but their performance differs from that of other players from countries like Brazil at crucial moments, because of the low number of hours they spent developing their football skills from childhood. Ten thousand hours of practice before young adulthood cannot be achieved by the individual alone. It needs a family that encourages, and a government that provides infrastructure and opportunities for practicing the art of football right from nursery school. I will not blame the team for our debacle in Brazil. I will blame a regime that refuses to provide opportunities all over the country for selecting and nurturing football talent right from childhood through to young adulthood. I will fault a government that refuses to fund club football in the country and depends on foreign clubs to nurture and exploit the talents of our players at a late stage of adulthood. We can only hope that the journalists that went to Brazil, and CRTV that bargained for exclusive coverage in Cameroon only in the French language, went beyond enjoying football matches and took some time to lookout for why Brazil is a football nation. We have to invest seriously in football by providing appropriate infrastructure in every school, every village, every subdivision, every division and every region for nurturing and promoting talent in the game of football. Otherwise, we shall remain a country that wishes to reap where it did not sow.

Tazoacha Asonganyi