It is an open secret that the SDF party is experiencing serious diminishing returns as a consequence of hideous political blunders made by the leadership of the party since 1992.
Fru Ndi’s role in the demise
He, Fru Ndi, is a good orator, very eloquent in public utterances and a charismatic leader, such that even his political enemies would lend him that credit. Unfortunately, leadership is not only about charisma but the ability to act rationally based on any given situation.
Regrettably, SDF, symbolised by Fru Ndi, is too colonial and unflinching in its political decisions. Beside, good leadership requires a high degree of consistency. SDF will take a decision today and seek redress or regret the next day, albeit quietly. In short, the party has become consistently inconsistent.
The inconsistency of the party could be traced from 1992 when on the eve of the legislative elections of March 1992, the Quinbus flestrins (Man Mountain) of the party John Fru Ndi announced that SDF would not take part in the election because of bad electoral laws. “No good laws, no elections”. Other opposition parties like UNDP, UPC, CDU, and MDR took part in the elections and obtained a total of 92 parliamentary seats, thereby winning the legislative elections by a bare majority.
The party realised, albeit too late, it had made grievous political blunders or miscalculations. Smarting from the blunders, Fru Ndi immediately announced that SDF would take part in future elections no matter how bad the laws were. What a contradiction? That is why the SDF took part in the October 11, 1992 Presidential elections. Although Biya was declared winner by 39% and Fru Ndi followed with 36%, the fact that the Supreme Court President, Dipanda Mouelle, declared that there were some irregularities, as he openly declared “my hands are tied”, predicates that the SDF candidate might have performed better. Such a percentage would have encouraged Fru Ndi and his party to participate in all future elections.
That was not the case. Inversely, the party boycotted the October 11, 1997 Presidential elections after participating in May 17, 1997 legislative elections in which she obtained 43 seats. Even after taking part in the parliamentary elections, Fru Ndi wanted the SDF candidates, who won, to boycott parliament. This resulted in a heated controversy which almost split the party as winners were anxious to enter the National Assembly. Will they ever learn from their mistakes?
In 2002, SDF participated in the elections and grasped only 22 seats down from 43 in 1997, with the same electoral laws hitherto considered bad. In 1992, the regime had not mastered the rigging machinery. This explains why the UNDP, MDR and UPC parties were able to grab 92 seats in parliament. This happened to have been the right moment for the SDF to triumph the regime but the party blundered. Many people who voted for the UNDP and other parties did so out of frustration. They would have voted for the SDF! Indubitably, this was the zenith of Fru Ndi’s political triumphs, as since then the SDF has only been falling from the sublime to the ridiculous. The lion’s share of the blame goes to the short-sightedness and inconsistency of the hierarchy.
Fru Ndi’s conflict with Ben Muna over Diboule’s murder case was only another proof of the SDF Chairman’s inconsistency was. The SDF Chairman who seems to have been practically dictating moves in the party instructed that Ben Muna, who had since resigned from the SDF and gone to Rwanda, should be readmitted. Muna was even allowed to challenge Fru Ndi in the primaries to select SDF’s candidate for the 2004 Presidential Elections. Fru Ndi beat Ben Muna hands down. But when the SDF was to hold an elective convention in Bamenda, Fru Ndi vowed that Ben Muna would not contest. Frustrated by that, Ben Muna, supported by late Ngwasiri, decided to hold a parallel Convention in Yaoundé. The result of which was a clash between Fru Ndi and Ben Muna’s supporters which resulted in the death of Diboule Gregoire, SDF Administrative Secretary for the Centre –a resolute supporter of Ben Muna.
In an attempt to exonerate himself, Fru Ndi declared he sent nobody to disrupt the Yaoundé convention alleging that those who took part in the fighting were all Muna’s supporters. He further insinuated that they fought over money. But when John Ngu, one of those arrested at the scene of fighting died in detention in Yaoundé, Fru Ndi went to Yaoundé, took his corpse to Bamenda and proceeded to Mbengwi for burial. If he didn’t send anybody to Yaoundé, then why did go to ferry home Ngu’s corpse? Why did he not leave Ben Muna to do it? If it were purely for humanitarian reasons, he should have declared at the funeral, but he did not.
Another episode which demonstrated the consistency of the SDF, is when Biya announced the amendment of the Constitution in his 2008 New Year speech. SDF – Fru Ndi spat fire, vowing that it would not happen. Civil society activists supported him and held meetings to that effect. All ended as hot air.
Hon. Jean Michel Nintcheu, SDF Littoral Regional Chairman and SDF Parliamentary Group Vice President was prepared to lead a demonstration in Douala, Fru Ndi surprisingly left Douala two days ahead of the demonstration claiming that he was in a hurry to attend a Socialist Youth Forum in Bamenda. The forum held two days later i.e. after the day of the demonstration. Fru Ndi could have led the Douala demonstration and still attended the forum.
Whereas Fru Ndi had always told his MPs to boycott Parliamentary Elections when unpopular decisions were to be taken, he ordered that all SDF MPs should not attend the session where the bill for amendment was to be voted. Mbah Ndam, obviously acting on his instructions even facilitated the passing of the bill by tabling private members bill suggesting which portions of the 1996 constitution should be amended. This was facilitating the process because the stand of the party was originally that no amendment at all should take place. The CPDM went ahead and voted the bill with the justification that the front-line opposition party supported the amendment idea.
The most recent proof of inconsistency of the SDF chair and his party is their decision on Biya’s imminent visit to Bamenda for the 50th Anniversary of the Army. At first he and some MPs castigated the visit giving it all sorts of names. Threatening that the visit was going to spark fire as President Biya risk being assassinated (by who?). They advised Biya to change the venue of the military anniversary. Few days later, during the NEC meeting, the party decided that militants could attend the occasion but not in party’s uniform! What are the mayors supposed to do on that day? Be part of the occasion or not? SDF party hierarchy should reread the law and correct them selves before Biya arrives. The fact that the party resolved that militants could attend the occasion is already a political weakness. Rational politicians should always take the temperature before making utterances.
The Genesis of the SDF and Fru Ndi
the Anglophone problem
The SDF was conceived by Albert Mukong as a forum to articulate the Anglophone problem. At least, Mukong says so in his autobiography “My stewardship in the Cameroon struggle” But soon after its launch Fru Ndi started talking of national integration.
Fru Ndi is a member of the Southern Cameroons Advisory Council (SCAC) according to Mukong, yet does not want the independence of Southern Cameroons which is the raison d’être of the SCNC. This is sheer contradiction. It should be recalled that soon after coming out of his two months’ house arrest in 1992 Fru Ndi vowed to teach Biya a lesson as an Anglophone. Southern Cameroons Activists rejoiced at the announcement “They expected Fru Ndi at AAC1 which held in Buea in April 1993 three months after his release. He was not there. Neither did he attend AAC II in Bamenda in April - May1994.
Fru Ndi and the Western powers
Fru Ndi has also been very inconsistent in his dealings with Western powers who have influence over Cameroon. In 1991 there was a call for the boycott of French goods. This was a form of protest against French policy in Cameroon. This call was intensified when Fru Ndi was under house arrest. Fru Ndi all along condemned the French for obstructing Cameroon’s democratic process and economic development. But today PMUC, the French gambling company, money sucking monster that have exploited and rendered thousands of Cameroonians miserable is harboured by Fru Ndi in his Tower Building along the Bamenda Commercial Avenue. Fru Ndi can therefore, in the words of IPP (Awilo), said to be “riche a cause de Tierce”?
He is seen in this as consistently in consistent. Fru Ndi, however, defends himself that he leased the house to Amity Bank and took a loan. It was the Bank that leased it to PMUC. This argument convinced no one apart from Fru Ndi and his closest collaborators. That is why angry youths stormed the building during the 2008 February 25 riots and destroyed PMUC paraphernalia.
SDF’s slogan is “Power to the People and equal opportunities”. But when people choose their candidates at Primaries the National Advisory Council NAC disrespects or disregards them and chooses Fru Ndi’s favourites. It is also very strange, even ridiculous that the NAC which should advise Fru Ndi is headed by Fru Ndi himself! He could as well be a player and referee just like elections organised by government and monitored by government officials - a thing SDF has been condemning for decades.
Take the case of mayors, people elect their mayors but the National Investiture Committee rejects and appoints their favoured militants. This was the cause of the rancour in Ndu, Nkambe Babessi, Njinikom, etc. The question many ask is “How can a person advise himself?”
Fru Ndi has a tendency to profess democratic sentiments but does the opposite. He says “Power to the people”, whereas the real power is in the hands of few cronies of the party. When he was going into a coalition with Ndam Njoya in 2004, the impression he gave was that anybody who was chosen as Presidential candidate would be supported by all. But when Ndam Njoya was voted he backed out.
The latest demonstration of inconsistency is in the ELECAM issue. He tells us that SDF will not boycott elections, but says there will be no elections with ELECAM in its present state. If there will be no election then what will SDF take part in?
During the last NEC meeting, Fru Ndi and his collaborators instead of applying 8.2 for anti-party activities on Kwemo Pierre 1st Vice President and Noumba Serge, West MP, the party simply decided they will not take part in future elections. It didn’t say whether or not they have been suspended from their functions. The SDF Chairman is therefore, not only guilty of inconsistency but also of ambiguity and double talk.
He wrote to Biya requesting for dialogue. When Biya announced that he would come to Bamenda, he should have embraced the announcement and even invited the President for breakfast as he did to Joseph Owona. It should be Biya to refuse. On the contrary, he says Biya should not come to Bamenda. The question many are asking is “If Biya also says Fru Ndi should never set foot in Yaoundé, what would he do?
To conclude, Fru Ndi speaks without reflecting
and that is why he contradicts himself so often
The SDF does not deserve a leader who carries fire and water in the same mouth. He calls his party - political organisation a front. Organisations like the Patriotic Front in Liberia and Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria were confrontational. The SDF Chairman spits fire but does not act boldly as in the 1990s. It does not make sense talking tough when no concrete action can be taken. Martin Nkemngu made this point when he openly put on CPDM uniform and crossed carpet from SDF to CPDM. He said there was no point being SDF by day and CPDM by night as Fru Ndi and collaborators were doing.
Thomas Takang Tabenyang, a former SDF Chairman for the South West, who also dumped the party, summed up the character of Fru Ndi in the following words “This is a man who could not distinguish between politics and liberation struggle and faded in both”.
By our editorial desk.
Leave a comment,
speak your mind and take part in any discussion.
As exchange of ideas and debates between opinions
are fundamental for our democracy.
And will push Cameroon forward.
Comments with racist, homophobic, sexist, hateful, extreme Christian or extreme Islamic content will be removed.