By Tazoacha Asonganyi,Yaounde.
In other circumstances, one would let sleeping dogs lie. But the present circumstances are so central to our political life that it is difficult to let them just lie by.
There are conflicting signals all around us, like: there will be no elections organised by ELECAM; the SDF is in the Supreme Court to nullify the activities of ELECAM; the SDF is calling on the people not to register to vote; the SDF has forced Paul Biya to legalise ELECAM; the SDF is going to Geneva...the SDF is calling “on Cameroonians to take their responsibilities.... and do what others have done under similar circumstances...”!
All this is cacophony that confuses the people more than it empowers them! The SDF seems to have reduced its struggle to an elite pastime of memoranda, ultimatums, and court actions – without the people! They are going to court with elite lawyers to argue for the legalisation of a structure they tell the people they do not want. They are giving instructions to the people not to put their names in electoral registers, and punishing those who call on the people to do the contrary, instead of descending to the people to convince them about the wisdom of their instructions, and the folly of the counter call. After all, politics has always been a competitive endeavour in an arena where the people are the sole judge.
Since 1990 the National executive committee of the SDF has always been composed of different categories of people, including elected and co-opted members. They enjoyed the same honours and prerogatives, except when it came to voting on issues in NEC. Of course, co-opted members could always lose their status of member of NEC through the same process by which they were co-opted – that is, by decision of NEC. Until that was done, NEC members were never at the mercy of lower structures of the party on issues of discipline!
Since 2006, NEC members are only handpicked by an all powerful Chairman of the party, not elected. It is difficult to understand that co-opted NEC members like Kah Walla suddenly became so unequal to handpicked members that they are left at the mercy of an Electoral District, in spite of precedence, and the existence of other regulations in the party that protected her from such ridicule. Bringing up cases that have been lying silent since 2007 just when she expressed a different opinion in 2010 on the need for the people to enter their names in electoral registers, smells of the type of settlement of political scores we are witnessing with “Epervier”. For the hierarchy of the party to have watched silently while a lower structure ridiculed her within the party and in the press only added salt to injury.
The rule of law is the rule of law, whether it is within political parties or in the country as a whole. Those who cannot respect and enforce the rule of law within a political party cannot convincingly promise to enforce and respect it in the society as a whole.
In 20 years, the SDF has failed to come to terms with the complexity of human nature, and so has failed to develop the humility to deal with strong human egos, to be tolerant of divergent views; and the intelligence to understand the varying motives and desires of their members, so as to overcome personal vendetta, humiliation, and bitterness.
Like the rest of the opposition in Cameroon, the SDF has since become an instrument for the validation of oppressive state power, since they have been reduced to the impotence of barking while the caravan of the dictatorial power we sought to overthrow trudges on. They have ended up becoming managers of the image of a repressive regime because the more they are heard and seen trading repartees with the regime while it calls one bluff after the other, the more the regime is thought to be...“democratic”, since everybody seems to be doing and saying what they want to.
Repressive regimes always want to give the impression that they are in power because of the ballot box. However, every school boy knows that such regimes are in power because of tanks, guns, truncheons, water canons, and sometimes the courts, not because of the ballot box. Interestingly, most repressive regimes that are usually overthrown by the people, are overthrown because the opposition engaged them around the ballot box on the terms of the regime. The core strategy of such opposition groupings has always been to turn election fraud – which the regime always engages in – into an advantage; to turn it into a trigger for protests to humble the weapons that keep the regimes in power!
The opposition in Cameroon should mobilise the people to deal with the ballot box as it is, because the regime is not ready to change the substance of its game plan around the ballot box. The people should be taught their own strategy to use the ballot box as it is, to gain their power. It is foolhardy to indulge in the endless distraction of enumerating the obstacles the regime has consciously put around the ballot box.
The ballot box is an inanimate thing; it is only as powerful as the people want it to be. Since people’s power has overcome tanks, guns, truncheons, and water canons, it can overcome any obstacle put on the way to the recapture of their power.
The SDF should encourage the people to register massively in electoral registers, in order to be able to exercise their ballot box power when the time comes!