Cameroon’s more than 350 opposition political parties have been unable to secure a single seat at the Senate. Coming at a time many had been clamouring for more opposition representation in daily life, the happening is another mark of the disunity and increasing frustration within opposition political parties.
Of all opposition parties that went in for the election, the Social Democratic Front, SDF is believed to be hardest hit, given the ranks of representation in national and grassroots matters just a few years ago. The party of John Fru Ndi was unable to secure a single seat even in its strongholds of the North West and South West Regions.
Prior to the March 2023 election, the SDF party had seven senators, a figure that was not even enough to form a parliamentary group. Ten years after 2013 when it announced it was fielding candidates in all ten regions of the country, the party could hardly boast of doing same in three regions this time. After the first senatorial election of April 14, 2013, the SDF won 14 seats.
This number, unfortunately, dropped to seven during the second senatorial elections counting for the 2018 – 2023 term.
Today, the party and the senate are parallel lines.
Its only hope of having senators will be for President Paul Biya to name one of theirs among the list of his desired 30 to join the 70 elected representatives. The SDF like the other opposition parties, has always been categorical about President Paul Biya and his mannerisms.
Among theories they oppose, is the assertion of the head of state’s generosity often touted by regime songbirds. The assertion often comes to play in case of appointments and inauguration of projects, both of which the opposition generally holds that are rights of Cameroonians and not a gift to them by the regime.
Ironically, the SDF party finds itself lumped in the same cocoon with others awaiting the list of 30 politicians the President will have to pick to go to Senate, a display of his ‘unmatched generosity’. Even if he decides to allocate one seat to an opposition party, there would still be hundreds lacking and seeking a miracle to get seen.
While the SDF party might not have an eye for this ‘miraculous’ intervention, the possibility does not boil down to zero. President Biya, the tactician he is, is known to have sometimes gone across the board of the political spectrum to rein in actors, both former and active opposition party members.
Recall Njong Donatus, former Kumbo Mayor and staunch SDF politician today serves as deputy Coordinator of the presidential Plan for Reconstruction and Development of the North West and South West regions, an institution whose drive many opposition politicians are yet to come to terms with.
But whether or not this happens, and regardless of how the party perceives it, bigger challenges lie elsewhere. The party is imploding, and the center can barely hold. With the election now over, it would be in the interest of the ‘power to the people’ party to lick its wounds and redress the internal squabbles.
While the recent loss might be its biggest yet, surpassing the humiliating defeat at the 2018 Presidential elections, failing to resolve the internal issues would only enlarge the grave in which the party’s popular support has been sinking for years today. And then it would be poetic justice served, if truly the party’s chairman in 2011, referred to other opposition parties as ‘maggots’.