Tuesday, June 2, 2015

SDF AT 25: Why they Celebrated

 On May 26, the SDF was not only celebrating that it has moved the strongest democratic barriers and survive the storm but that it has moved a long way along with its objectives as a populist front. To say that the SDF has at least achieved its objective is a fact. But like any other populist movement that depends on verbs and not actions, the party has also recorded some ups and downs, trials and tribulations. Yet SDF hierarchy succeeded in steering the ship out of the difficulty zones to a safer zone from being swallowed by the CPDM machinery. The overall indictors have proven that Ni John Fru stood the taste of time. “Papa Power” as Fru Ndi was commonly called out of the blue became the symbol of change in Cameroon and “father of democracy”. From May 1990 to date, 25 years down the drain, the SDF stood firm to its ideals and maintained its position as leading opposition party in the country. The SDF has always emerged second in all elections it has participated. To sum it all, the SDF will be celebrating the following:

Civil Liberty, Freedom of Speech and Democracy

Before May 26, 2015, Cameroonians knew nothing about civil liberty and or freedom of speech. That is why Albert Mukong was arrested alongside Yondo Black and a host of others to holding illegal meetings. When Dr. Eyoh Ndumbe, Dr. Tata Mentan, Beatrice Annembom Monju , Ntemfac Ofege, Charlie Ndichia , Sam Nuvela Fonken and others were arrested on May 8, 1990 after their Cameroon Calling program which propagated the creation of a democratic party, they were arrested and detained. Anglo/Bamilike students invaded the campus of ASMAC and succeeded in causing their release. Cameroonians defeated the fear of death even with the threats of Auto Defense, Manda Fils and Forchive agents. Even though in 25 years the SDF has not been able to take over power, it has contributed enormously to civil liberty. Cameroonians now free to create associations, NGOs and political parties. The SDF has given room for the creation of more than 300 political parties. The outcome has been that the Biya regime was obliged to swallow the bitter piles by accepting democracy which guarantees civil liberty. It is no more news that the SDF brought about and enhanced the freedom of speech. Hundreds of radio stations, TV channels and newspapers as well as online publications now operate in the country.
The simple fact the SDF participated in majority of elections in the country has helped in enhancing democratic process. Within the SDF democracy is always put to test as elections are conducted with transparent ballot boxes. The single list system was also tested during the last party elections within the party. When the SDF advocated for an independent electoral body, its persistence led to the creation of ELECAM which Ni John Fru Ndi’s party still doubts its open-mindedness and independence.

Disclosure of Corruption and Embezzlement

 When the SDF cried out loudly that some government officials were highly involved in corrupt practices and have been siphoning state funds into private pockets, the Biya regime asked for evidences. Not long, Cameroon won the detrimental corruption trophy 3 times. The international community acknowledged the efforts of the leading opposition party to join in the crusade to pressurize the Biya regime to engage in the fight. If government had given an ear to the worries of the SDF, the state of finances would not have degenerated that much. The case of Mouchipou Seidou, the then Minister of Post and Telecommunication abound high. SDF MPs exposed the corrupt practices in that Ministry and the outcome was the arrest of Mouchipou. Since then, Biya took the fight against corruption more serious. Biya was obliged to created parallel anti-corruption structure like CONAC to check corruption leading to the arrest of over 200 high profile government ministers, MPs, Mayor and high profile functionaries.

Good Governance /Transparent Use of Parliamentary Grants

It is thanks to the SDF that Cameroonians knew that MPs were always given a certain amount of money known as micro project grants every year to carry out small projects in their constituencies. Before then, the amount was spent in bars, bars and restaurants as well as night clubs in major cities. SDF MPs did not only expose its existence, they went as far creating micro project committees to manage the funds. The use of micro grant is one of the measuring rots the population uses nowadays to evaluate their representatives. So, retaining a parliamentary seat or winning is also determined by how these funds were used and or how the funds would be used. It ignited good governance at local levels given that elected officials are obliged to give an account of their stewardship. At the level of the councils, some SDF mayors in the likes of Njong Donatus, Tosam Bernard, Balick Awah Fidelis, late Bunyui Jonathan and Mangoh Jones Tanko proved to be exemplary in fostering development efforts.
It was until the SDF took over management of the councils that Cameroonians knew that councils are supposed to organize Public Hearings to explain to the population their plan of action and realization, income and expenditures.

Reconciliation

When President Biya met Ni John Fru in Bamenda face-face for the first time, those who thought that the two political rivals could never see eye to eye were taken aback. This is however a true picturesque of all what transpired within the past 25 years. If Paul Biya and Fru Ndi could sit on same table and talk what more of those who left the SDF due to misunderstanding? That is why the SDF wants to use these 25 years to heal past wounds. Implicitly, the SDF Silver Jubilee will give room for a new take off. The reconciliation committee headed by Hon. Mbah Ndam has a heavy task to bring back the likes of Akonte, Asonganyi, Ntemfack Ofege, etc. Popular opinion holds that if the hand of fellowship the SDF is extending is genuine, the party will emerge to be stronger than before after the celebrations.

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

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