Challenges for MRC after a wither SDF!.

08/08/2023

Since the advent of multi-party politics in Cameroon in the nineties, the Social Democratic Front, SDF, has indisputably been the leading opposition party. But after the 2018 presidential election, Maurice Kamto and his MRC grabbed that envious position from the ranks of over 300 political parties in the country.

The SDF, after that poll, in which its candidate took a miserable fourth position with less than five percent of the votes, it was clear even for the blind to see that the party that once gave the CPDM a fierce run for its money was a spent force.

The last nail on the coffin of the party was the exclusion of over 30 bigwigs who resolved at a meeting in Mbouda to audit the accounts and instill some democratic tentacles in what they said had been a one-man affair with the Chairman, the late Fru Ndi, calling the shots.

The SDF as a leading opposition party failed to rally other parties outside the ambit of the "Presidential Majority," to present a unique candidate in any presidential election.

Prof Maurice Kamto had actually initiated some kind of unity, not for a single candidate, but the campaign for a review of the Electoral Code, to ensure a free, fair and credible election in 2025.

In 2021, the main opposition parties scheduled a press conference in a hotel to present proposals for the reform of the electoral system, but their press conference was prohibited for "interference in legislative" matters.

Sosthène Médard Lipot, an official of MRC, said later that: "The political parties have worked hard on the rules of the electoral game to be proposed to parliamentarians and for this simple meeting with journalists, we are chased away".

"I think there is fear in the government camp when we see the opposition forces united," Leonnel Kounga of the Social Democratic Front (SDF), added.

Prof Jacques Fame Ndongo, National Secretary for Communication of the ruling CPDM, in defending the ban said: "The contributions of political parties, organisations or personalities of civil society cannot be adopted in the street but by Parliament".

The opposition parties were, and are still proposing four main issues to be amended in the electoral law. First, is to bring the voting age down to 18, followed by a single ballot paper. 

The third major demand is recognition of all return sheets from polling stations, not only those from ELECAM, while the fourth key issue is to give ELECAM more independence answerable to Parliament and not to the Head of State who appoints members.

They claim the current Electoral Code is crafted to favour candidates of the ruling party, who in any case, have a dominant majority in parliament and not likely to make any change especially with a withered opposition.

The MRC, which was seen as a major challenger to the ruling party, is in crisis.  After the ousting of Richard Tamfu, one of its legal gurus, for "breach of the duty of reserve and loyalty", the Secretary General, Christopher Ndong Mveh, on June 10, announced disciplinary proceedings against Michèle Ndoki, Vice Chair of the Women's Wing.

She was then expelled from the party "for manifest refusal to conform to the political line and party discipline". The decision after approval by the President of the party, Prof Maurice Kamto, was taken on July 6, 2023, by the National Committee for Mediation and Arbitration, CNMA, of the MRC.

In her defence, Ndoki, who was Vice President of the MRC Women Wing, and declared her intention to run for the leadership of the party, denied the accusations. But after reading the versions of the two parties, the CNMA judges decided to exclude Barrister Ndoki "for manifest refusal to comply with the political line and the discipline of the party".

She was found guilty of "anti-party activity, defamation, false news, breach of duty of loyalty, creation of a WhatsAapp group not authorised by MRC”.

What is happening in the MRC is what took place in the SDF. But will the MRC learn a lesson? Some articulate commentators have accused the ruling party for using the lavish resources at its disposal to lure opposition party members to create problems and quit.

Many of those who have left the SDF and MRC were dark horses brought to pubic limelight by the parties. Some left to join the presidential majority, others created their own parties or have announced plans to do so and sink into oblivion.

The political adventurers have no intention to contest any election but just to weaken the opposition parties for egocentric interests.

The ruling party that has often been accused of being behind the divisions in the opposition parties should however understand that there can be no democracy without a viable and strong opposition with people of mettle who stand firm on principles.

Like Wilson Churchill once said: "Some men change their party for the sake of their principles and others their principles for the sake of their party". That is not the case with many Cameroonian politicians, whose pockets dictate their political directions.

It is however left for the MRC as leading opposition party to ensure that the party lives by its principles and more importantly rally other opposition parties to work out a plan for unity towards the 2025 presidential election. 

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