Tuesday, June 2, 2015

SDF at 25: Of Democratic Struggle, Good Governance and Gov’t Watchdog

Fru Ndi
If we go by Benjamin Disraeli’s  pronouncement that “no government can long be secure without a formidable opposition”, we will clearly see the role the Social Democratic Front-SDF has played in reshaping democracy, governance and freedom of expression  in Cameroon for the past 25 years. This has been proved true and fully valid for the health and efficiency of the 25 years struggle for democracy, civil liberty and freedom of expression. The SDF as the main opposition party represents an alternative government (Shadow Government), and has been responsible for challenging the policies of the government and producing different  alternatives where appropriate. Since we operate party democracy in Cameroon, it means wherever there is a government of a political party there is expected to be an opposition. However, it would appear that talking about opposition in Cameroon only refers to the Social Democratic Front. In every state there is a government and a supposed opposition. But do you know one apart from the SDF? Your guess is as good as mine.
We all agree that the opposition apart from the fact that their intention is to takeover power through the ballot box, should as well be the people’s watchdog to keep the government on its toes and forcing it to follow the right path. For 25 years, the SDF has played the oversight role by ensuring that government actions are in the best interest of the people. The role of opposition in a democracy is much more creative and crucial rather than opposition for the sake of opposition. The fact that for the past 25 years the SDF has maintained its leading position in exposing the weaknesses in government policies and remain a vigilant watchdog over the action and inaction of the Biya regime is an inalienable and essential part of democratic process.
For 25 years, the SDF has constantly questioned the government, reasons why government has remained answerable to the public most of the time. The question lingering on is whether the SDF has been good enough in ensuring this task. Was it launched only with the view to becoming an alternative government?  The problem is that for 25 years, the SDF has reshuffled its Shadow cabinet just twice or almost thrice. This is where they goofed which to me is a natural factor and a pity given that politicians themselves have proven to be typical prostitutes. They change like chameleons. Some of them change colours to suit their needs and circumstances. If you look critically at the opposition parties (over 300) they are mostly created by people who decamped from this or that party when they believe they have been sidelined and or could not get their desires. This is the type of our bane of politics. There are water-like politicians who do not believe in anything except themselves and what they will gain. It is therefore very important for an opposition party like the SDF to demonstrate its democratic credentials. That is why at 25, the SDF should start thinking of revisiting its alternative policies. After 25 years, the SDF should not continuously prepare itself for the future role of remaining the people’s watchdog. Up to now, Impressionists continue to wonder why the SDF could not join government. When a government collapses like was the case in Egypt, a vibrant opposition would prepare the role of ruling following its alternative policies. We all know and believe that change is constant and it comes when properly articulated. So the question the SDF should give concrete answers to is: what is the opposition policy that they will use in challenging the Biya led government whose machinery is to crush. The way Cameroon operates multiparty politics on papers is however what makes the SDF to feel comfortable as leading opposition in Cameroon. This is likely because whether individuals decamp from SDF to CPDM, NUDP to UPC etc etc, the compound that is formed remains the same when broken down. It is therefore very imperative for the SDF to outline what and how they intend to change this status quo because my observation is that whether in councils, Parliament or Senate, politicians all think the same way. Albert Einstein said “the world as we have created is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking”.

When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)

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