Monday, October 14, 2013

Scramble for Mayorship: · 10.626 Contenders for 360 Top Jobs in Councils Nationwide

By Cassimania Faison
 After being elected on September 30, 2013, a total number of 10, 626 councilors nationwide will by October 16, 2013 play to another political gallery of electing mayors and deputies to pilot the affairs in 360 municipalities nationwide. If not of the fact that mayors are selected (handpicked) by the various political parties, the 10.626 councilors per the law are potential mayors. However, it is alleged that the investiture of the various political parties that emerged victorious have been busy examining applications and handpicking mayors. Meanwhile, it is alleged that some candidates gunning for mayoral positions have been spending their time with marabouts. Those trying to unseat the incumbents as well as those in office have been spotted in parties’ headquarters trying to corrupt party officials. Many of those who worked together for the party to emerge victorious we gathered are no more in talking terms. This is so because everyone is suspicious of everybody. In some municipalities, money is said to be changing hands as potential candidates paying off others to get their votes.
Following the proclamation of the results of the municipal elections, as required by the electoral law of July 22, 2004 laying down common rules for councils, elected councilors shall sit in an ordinary session which marks the beginning of their mandate. During this session, councilors shall elect mayors and their deputies (in actual fact they will validate the selection made by the hierarchy of the party). Classified sources say aspiring mayors have cued up at the CPDM Secretariat in Yaounde as well as the residence of Ni John Fru Ndi’s Ntarinkon residence with concoctions in their pockets to influence their aspirations. More so, influence peddlers have also gotten another great opportunity to make money. However mayors who will buy their way up are going to become friends to richer people and then the crying poor mass is left to continue in neediness.  While those who will be chosen thanks to the so-called godfathers will continue to be the “untouchables” whereas the population who voted the said list is yearning for redemption and sanctification. As usual, majority of them will end up in prison.
Concretely, it is the Senior Divisional Officer-SDO who convenes all councilors. At the opening of the session, the SDO or any other representative of the State will check whether a quorum has been formed. Then he/she will form an interim board consisting of the oldest and the youngest councilor. This is the team that will conduct the proceedings until the mayor and his deputies are chosen (elected).
Candidates who had submitted applications for mayorship are nominated by any councilor, according to legal provisions. This process is some-how a mockery of democracy given that in reality those to be nominated are designated by their political parties. In council areas where the council seats are shared, the general rule is that the candidate from the party with the most seats is certain to win. This is so because sharing seats after the municipal elections, the party is sure to have more than half of the councilors. The case of Santa, Mbengwi and Fundong abound. However, it is not excluded that a councilor from a candidate with fewer seats could try his/her luck given that such an election is often characterized by buying of votes. Yet it is not ruled out that a party can endorse two or more candidates for the position of mayor and in such a case, it is money that speaks.
The most interesting thing about who could be elected mayor is that there is no legal provision which states that the head of the council list is the lone candidate for mayor and therefore the future mayor. Under the law, the number of deputy mayors is set according to the size of the population of the municipality given that in some council the number of councilors varies between 25 and 61. The election of the mayor and deputies is done following a list system. In practice, a councilor presents a list he/she leads. If it wins the election, its members shall be declared elected in order, as first, second, third ... until the sixth deputy mayor depending on the size of the council. Generally, it is the dominant party that takes all. This, despite the fact that Article 60 paragraph 1 of the 2004 Act (law) provides that the municipal executive reflects as far as possible, the composition of the council. In many cases, this is usually violated. However this law is never respected because the majority takes all.
Electoral Litigations
In case of any electoral litigation, the Electoral Code provides that a councilor declared elected by the Council Supervisory authority remains in office until the intervention of a decision by the Supreme Court. This same principle is applied to council executives who are elected and would have to remain in office until a contrary decision may arise, for example as a result of post election disputes. Implicitly, within 45 days of the close of the polls for municipal elections, in other words, by November 4, 2013, we’ll know if the configuration of municipal councils per the results of September 30, 2013 and the composition of the municipal executive expected on 15 September will be final and effective for the next five years or not. As mentioned above, in a situation where the results of the polls are cancelled or results of some polling stations cancelled and the party in power looses, the mayor and his deputies will remain in office for at least six months before fresh elections are organized. Such a scenario may likely take place in the North West Region in Nkambe, Bamenda I and or Fundong where electoral litigations are pending the decision of the Supreme Court.
The Dictates of Political Parties
The most senior officials of the Central Committee of the ruling CPDM party allegedly advised it councilors who won in the municipal elections to wait for the decision from the Central Committee. According to what we gathered, the CPDM will decide on who will be elected mayor. In any case, this method has already been somewhat been made public by the Secretary General of the CPDM Central Committee who announced that committees composed of CPDM Section Presidents, and Central Committee delegates will make up the committee that will select candidatures at local levels while the Central Committee will give a final verdict.
In SDF, the famous investiture committee has been receiving applications from postulants. The SDF investiture will surely learn from errors of the past that has contributed to the party loosing the Nkambe, Bafoussam I and Babessi Council after the decisions of the investitures were challenged. However, the party cadres they remain faithful to the tradition. Other parties like the NUDP, CDU have also adopted this method of selection that comes from the top of the party.

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