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General News of Thursday, 30 April 2015

Source: Cameroon Journal

I will return to SDF if... – Asonganyi

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For the first time after he left the party in 2006, former SDF Secretary General, Tazoacha Asonganyi, has expressed readiness to rejoin the party.

Asonganyi told The Cameroon Journal in a telephone interview last Saturday: “I am ready and willing to go back to the SDF.” But the former scribe quickly added a condition, “this can only happen if the SDF creates the kind of momentum it created in 1992.”

Asked to throw more light on what he means by the “kind of momentum created in 1992”, Asonganyi responded, “Let the SDF go into coalition with other opposition parties, be the leader of opposition parties and put up a front for the fight for change in Cameroon and we will all go back to the SDF.”

Asonganyi, once considered a pillar in the SDF, confessed to our reporter that even though the party recently came up with a reconciliation committee to help bring back some of the bigwigs of the party, nobody so far, has approached him with a view of ‘negotiating’ or ‘sweet-talking’ him to go back to the party.

“I am reading only in newspapers that the SDF wants us back in the party. So far, they have not contacted me. If they did, it would have given room for us to talk better…” He said.

It should be recalled that Asonganyi had in an earlier opinion published in several newspapers, pointed out what to him is wrong with the nation’s leading opposition party.

In the write-up, he addressed four of the many problems that he thinks have beset the SDF and led to its dwindled popularity. Following is full text of Asonganyi’s unedited opinion on the SDF.

Problem Number One: Founding Fathers Some operations are fated to go wrong from the start. The SDF was created to win power and govern. Its birth was facilitated by persons who later branded themselves “Founding Fathers.” By the constitution which they helped to write, they were supposed to play a central role in the nurturing of the “baby” they had helped to deliver. But the baby they had helped to deliver belonged to a society; it was not theirs! They were midwives that helped Cameroon society to deliver a “baby” from its pregnancy.

In a way, like all midwives, their hour on stage had to be short and fretful. Like Marx’s proletariat that defines his goal as its own elimination as an exploited, alienated class, the birth of the SDF was supposed to cause the disappearance – so to say – of the midwives from the stage.

Unfortunately, instead of vacating the stage and allowing society to move forward the “revolution” – the “baby” – they helped to engender, the “Founding Fathers” attempted to act like Marx’s “communist” who had the theoretical advantage over the rest of the proletariat; who had an insight into the condition, the path and the general result of the proletarian movement.

So the “Founding Fathers” imposed themselves as the “selfless servants” of the truth whose conservation they sought. They assumed that since they were “first” in the world of the SDF, they had precedence to generating an all-inclusive thought system in the party.

Most had a totalitarian view of politics and saw dissent as a betrayal; most saw antagonistic ideas as embedded in people who must perish with the idea in them through the famous Article 8.2! The birth of the SDF was supposed to become at once a result and a catalyst for the step-by-step amelioration of the party.

This was necessary since there is no preconceived or eternal form that can define once and for all the form of society that fits society forever or a form for a political party that can fit the party forever.

New ideas were not supposed to be seen as a rupture with one’s previous political engagements; rather, they were supposed to constitute a way of adjusting one’s goals; a way of thinking anew the relation between ends and means. Like Marx would put it, the human world is open to human actions because it is a creation of man.

Instead of providing the checks and balances they thought they would provide to the SDF, the “Founding Fathers” turned their “baby” into what Ngwasiri described to Nyo’Wakai in a correspondence in 1997 as follows: “Those of you who are the chairman’s close associates have built him into a powerful monster and a dictator who has been trampling on democratic ideals with impunity…The SDF is today a party without history because its history is that of one man.”

Problem Number Two: Article 8.2 and the disciplinary process The SDF at inception adopted trial by jury as the means of finding guilt and punishing its members. But the procedure had weaknesses in the four components of trial by jury – judge, jury, prosecution, and defense. The major weaknesses were:

1) There was no sitting “judge” (with good knowledge of the intricacies of the rules and regulations as well as ideals of the party) to preside over the proceedings; the president of the jury played that role!; 2) The legal advisers (who were usually the main prosecutors) were the ones who usually dealt with points of law that arose, not the “judge”; 3) The prosecutors and defense counsel vote as part of the jury if they are NEC members; 4) Members of the jury usually questioned the accused as if they were part of the prosecution; 5) Prosecution and defense witnesses who were members of the executive that was sitting as the jury participated in the decision of the jury; 6) Decisions of the jury were most of the time not based entirely on evidence adduced from the prosecution and defense during the trial.

In jury trials, the jury is supposed to take its decision in the absence of the accused, the “judge”, prosecution and defense counsels, and the witnesses. This was not the case in the SDF. Further, “loss of membership” through the Article 8.2 fiat was much abused. Many people have called for its modification although the leadership once said that if article 8.2 goes, they would go with it!

Article 8.2 can be modified as follows: 1) Section 8: Loss of membership: Membership shall be lost through the following circumstances: 2) 8.1 by death, mental and/or other incapacity resulting in loss of reason; 3) 8.2 by expulsion from the party as provided for in section 16.1.a.i; 4) 8.3 by resignation from the party as determined by a document duly signed by the member to that effect or a bailiff, with acknowledgement of receipt.

Problem Number Three: Interference of NEC in decisions of lower structures Checks and balances in the SDF were supposed to be provided by a robust national executive committee (NEC), a robust national advisory council (NAC), and the devolution of power to the lower structures.

This was subverted by the ad hoc treatment of NAC, and the permanent interference of NEC in the affairs of the lower structures. NEC regularly sent “NEC Commissions” to conduct elections in structures, rather than supervise the conduct of the elections by the sub-commissions that delegates at elective conferences put in place as provided for by the SDF constitution. This led to abuse, demobilization, and generalize in-fighting.

Problem Number Four: Leadership It is usually said that leadership is finding a parade and getting in front of it. That creates the tandem of leadership and followership. None can exist without the other, but, importantly, the parade was there before the duo emerged.

Only the leadership can fail the parade, not the other way round; the parade was there for a purpose. In case of failure, as is evident all around us, those who turn around and say things like “Cameroonians are not serious,” “Cameroonians do not care,” “Cameroonians are cowards” and others in that sense are in effect painting the picture of inadequate leadership. There may have been parades and people who rushed to get in front of them, not knowing that leadership is serious business!

Asonganyi while talking to The Journal on Saturday did not say if he would also want these SDF ‘wrong-doings’ corrected before he goes back to the party.

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