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A Political Party Is Not A Prison – Hon Nintcheu 

By Joe Dinga Pefok — The Littoral Chairman of the SDF, Hon. Jean Michel Nintcheu, has remarked that a political party is not a prison where one is forced to stay, against his wish.
Rather, he says the militant of a political party, especially a party like the SDF that believes in democracy, has the right to freely leave the party whenever he decides to do so.

He has thus stressed that for no reason should a militant who freely decides to call it quit with the SDF, become the subject of attack or the expression of ill feelings by militants of the party. Nintcheu, who is currently in Yaounde for the November session of Parliament, and who The Post contacted by telephone on November 26, was reacting to the ill feelings that has been persisting in the SDF in Douala against  Prof Maurice Kamto’s Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM, since the September 30 twin elections.

There is no doubt that the young CRM had its best performance in the country in Douala, where it won its lone Parliamentary seat (Wouri East Constituency), and also picked up a total of over 10 council seats (councillors) in a number of municipalities in the town. But what has angered many militants of the SDF in Douala, is that from all indications, the votes that CRM received across the town, were predominantly fished in SDF waters,  instead of from the CPDM camp, as many of them would have wished to see happen.

Furthermore, CRM’s candidates for the Legislative and Municipal Elections in the different constituencies in Douala, were mostly former SDF officials and militants, including a former SDF Mayor. The presence of CRM in the elections is seen by many SDF militants and even many political observers in Douala, to have prevented the SDF from winning more parliamentary and council seats.

Fishing In SDF’s Water 

Many local SDF officials and militants consider that the CRM played the role of a spoiler against the SDF, at the September 30 twin elections in Douala. In Douala 1V (Bonaberi) where the SDF lost the council it controlled in the last period (2007-2013), the outgoing SDF Mayor, John Ndangle Kumase, at his ‘fare-well’ press conference, partly attributed the failure of the SDF at the elections to the presence of some “new small parties”, that instead fished for votes in SDF waters, to the advantage of the CPDM.

The CPDM came first with 42 percent, followed by the SDF with 39 percent of the votes. Significantly, at the Legislative Elections in the same Bonaberi (Wouri West Constituency), the CRM did not participate and the SDF won the lone seat. Also, Rodrigue Carlos Ngoualem who headed the SDF list at the Municipal Elections in Douala V, also partly attributed the failure of the party to the presence of the CRM, which came third. Though the SDF was second like at the 2007 elections, the party dropped from the 14 council seats it had out of 61 in the last period, to barely eight seats, because of the CRM. 

In Douala III where the SDF won the September 30 Municipal Elections by simple majority, local party officials and militants believe that the party would have won by absolute majority, if the CRM, which list was more so headed by a former SDF Mayor of Douala III, Lazare Soub, was not present. The good score of the CRM which also came third in the September 30 Municipal Elections in Douala III, could be seen by the fact that the party was allocated as many as seven council seats.   

Wouri East Constituency  

Hon Nintcheu, who headed the SDF list for September 30 Legislative Elections in the Wouri East (Douala III and V Subdivisions), shares the view held by many SDF militants in the town, that the party would have likely won  by absolute majority, and grabbed all the four parliamentary seats, but for the presence of the CRM. The CRM list for Wouri East was also headed by the former SDF Mayor of Douala III, who was also the Douala III Electoral District Chairman of the SDF.

It is worth noting that the official results of the Legislative Elections in Wouri East Constituency stood as follows: CPDM – 68,930 votes (35.35 percent), SDF – 67,898 votes (34.72  percent), CRM – 31,568 votes (16.19 percent), UPC – 16,213 votes (8.32  percent), UNDP – 6,845 votes (3.51 percent), and  MP – 3,712 (1.90 percent).  This is the result which angered SDF militants in Douala the most.

As can be seen, the CPDM emerged first, beating SDF to the second position by barely 1,032 votes, whereas SDF militants have the conviction that a bulk of the 31,568 votes that the CRM got, were ‘SDF votes’. At the 2007 Legislative Elections, in Wouri East when CRM was yet around, the CPDM and the SDF shared the four seats, even though six parties also took part in the elections. But at the 2013 elections, the CPDM grabbed two seats and the SDF was forced to share the other two with CRM.  

Nintcheu said he regretted that the SDF was deprived of the opportunity to win all the four or at least two Parliamentary seats in Wouri East this year, because of CRM. He, however, said CRM is a political party and has the right to run for elections, and so SDF have no choice than to accept the results as they are. Nintcheu like Hon Lazare Soub of CRM, are both MPs of Wouri East, and also councillors of Douala III.

Nintcheu said, in as much as he regrets the fact that some of their comrades left for the relatively new party, he does not think that they should be considered as enemies by SDF militants. He said. it was the right of those who decided to leave, to leave. He said, in as much as his greatest wish is that all SDF militants should remain in the party, he would not find fault with a comrade who decides to withdraw, except in a case where the person does something wrong to the party and then jumps out on a fake pretext.  
Keeping The SDF Attractive

The Littoral SDF Boss noted that the party’s structures across the country regularly and happily receive new militants, many of whom are former militants of other political parties, who decide to join the SDF.

He urged that the SDF hierarchy should continue to work hard to regularly improve on the political programme of the party in an evolving society, so as to, among other things, continue to attract not only new militants, but also some of those who have left the party. He remarked that there are many militants who left the SDF out of some illusions, and later returned when they realised that they were mistaken or misled. He was thus hopeful that some of those SDF militants in Douala who have jumped to the CRM, will sooner of latter return to the ‘house’. 

Nintcheu said one other thing which can certainly make SDF to stay attractive to its militants as well as to militants of other political parties, is for militants like himself who are elected to public offices like mayors and parliamentarians, to strive to live up to expectations by delivering on election promises. He asserted that when an MP or a Mayor of the SDF fails to deliver on campaign promises, he or she is not only destroying his or her image, but is also seriously tarnishing the image of the party.

First published in The Post print edition no 01483

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