A socio-political scientist and lecturer at the Catholic University of Central Africa in Yaounde, Prof Claude Abe thinks that Fru Ndi is no longer a political opponent to Paul Biya. To him, the SDF chairman, “is just there to make profit.” In a recent interview with a local newspaper, the university don said the fact that the SDF chairman meets Biya regularly weakens the opposition in the country. He spoke to NewsWatch’s editor, Ndi Eugene Ndi in the following excerpts:
Prof, what is political rapprochement?
Scientifically when you talk about political rapprochement between political parties, there are two major notions; political alliance and political coalition. Political alliance is a possibility where two political parties agree to work together, that is to join their manifesto and carry out a joint political agenda. Here too it can be institutional alliance which is an alliance between two institutional parties and not the actors. In Cameroon what we see mostly is opportunistic alliance between political actors. When you see for example Mr Bello Bouba and Mr Paul Biya, it is an opportunistic rapprochement to permit political actors to move from one position to a position of power. On the other hand we have political coalition which is a kind of platform where some political parties group themselves to follow same objective with same project of society. For example, opposition political parties in Cameroon have a long history of coalition since the beginning of multipartism in our country. It is important to know that when there is a political coalition, even if you are in the opposition or in power, there are a lot of decisions relating to how you will rule if you take over power. I am not sure that the alliance between the CPDM and NUDP is institutional because the only person who is profiting is Mr Bello Bouba, it is not all of the political party. That is why I say that is an opportunistic alliance.
When you look at the Paul Biya and Fru Ndi, can you say they are in an alliance?
The Paul Biya and Fru Ndi phenomenon cannot be called political alliance because it is not based on institutional arrangement, it is an informal exchange which cannot be called alliance. The Mr Biya or regime and Fru Ndi exchanges are used as political arms by political actors to ensure that no one hinders another from realising his objective. For me this kind of irregular exchange shows that there are some kind of arrangements which are there to deceive people. When you see Mr Fru Ndi for example who in public presents himself as the leader of the opposition in the country but goes behind to wine and dine with Mr Biya, we realise that he is not a political opponent, he’s just there to make some profit. That is the nature of political practice in our country which is neo-patrimonial. In this kind of political practice we have this phenomenon called patronage. This means there is a big man with a lot of clients who break down the opposition and it is very important because ethically, you present yourself in the public as opponent but in the informal activities, you go and take a lot of money from the person you present yourself as his challenger, this breaks down the democratisation process in our country.
What are the consequences of such a practise?
Permit me use the example of someone who is dead to reply to your question, while respecting the right of the dead. Mr Lapiro de Mbanga who was a very renowned artiste in our country was also a renowned activist in the political liberalisation struggle. Mr Lapiro de Mbanga presented himself as a very critical political actor. Many people saw him as a political activist who was opposed to the Biya regime but but when people started suspecting him of taking a lot of money from the regime, his car was burnt. Also, they were a lot of people who wanted to kill him because of the treason. And for Mr Fru Ndi to be behaving in this way that he presents himself as Mr Biya’s opponent but goes behind to collect money from him or the regime, some Cameroonians who are his followers can start saying that he is joking with their support. Also, the fact that Mr Fru Ndi meets with Mr Biya regularly or collects money from the regime reduces the power of the opposition because he cannot be elected infront of Mr Biya. He has become friend to Mr Biya may be to the dissatisfaction of his followers.