This article will focus on the failures of the salvation government headed by Kamal El-Ganzouri, appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Its top priorities were to restore security, resuscitate tourism and revive the economy, but it failed the people on every task — most importantly not taking serious steps towards achieving the goals of the revolution in terms of freedom, social justice, dignity and humanity.
But we do not absolve of responsibility SCAF and Islamist groups that won the legislative elections. This cabinet, the same as its predecessor, lives and fails every day under the hegemony of SCAF. The elected parliament has so far dashed our hopes after the forces that won pursue narrow political gains and neglect completing the people’s revolution and achieving their goals. Neither is there any sign that the new Shura Council will act any differently since the obedient majority is even more dominant in the upper house.
Neither the cabinet nor the majority in parliament have proposed any serious plans to pull the nation through the mess left behind by corrupt authoritarian rule.
First, we should ask if El-Ganzouri was really given the mandate of a president? That is unlikely. Therefore, the failure of his government is not unusual especially that it suffers from clear inherent weaknesses. If this is the performance of a cabinet whose head was given the powers of a president under the rule of SCAF and Islamist control of parliament, what will the state of Egypt be if a president is elected under the hegemony of SCAF, even from behind the scenes, and the domination of the same groups in legislative bodies? It is likely to repeat the failures of the supposed salvation government. This is good reason to exclude the dubious notion of a consensual president.
The following are the faults of the salvation government whose leader was supposedly given the powers of a president, which are absolute powers on executive matters according to the constitutional declaration of SCAF.
The first transgression is unquestionably the deterioration of security conditions as a result of neglecting to purge the interior ministry and overhaul the entire security sector — both civilian and military — to ensure the safety and security of citizens. It is not unusual that previously uncommon crimes have become the norm today, such as armed robbery, assaults on politicians and kidnappings of tourists, while the prime minister and his minister of interior claim that security conditions are improving every day.
Second, naturally tourism was the first victim of intentional lawlessness and it will never recover, no matter how much the minister of tourism extravagantly spends from the depleted coffers of the country on promoting tourism, as long as serious foreign newspapers have reason to continue to report on the horrors suffered by foreign tourists and locals because of lawlessness. In this manner, the salvation government has failed in both of the first two priorities it promised to address: security and tourism.
The third failure, which is also linked to the above shortcomings, is failing to revive the economy that the ousted authoritarian regime left pilfered and in tatters. At the heart of the problem is that SCAF, its consecutive prime ministers and legislative majority lack a cohesive vision supported by bold leadership to steer Egypt’s resources towards a national project of human revival by marshalling self-potential and using it efficiently.
On the contrary, SCAF and its consecutive cabinets are behaving like a cashier who found a safe on the side of the road; all they care about is how to spend its contents, while trying to add more money to it. But for this, they rely on collecting from the downtrodden while begging and borrowing from abroad, as they continue wasteful spending — some ridiculously excessive — just like the previous despotic regime.
Fourth, what the salvation government lacks in vision and leadership it makes up for in moaning and complaining to intimidate the people. SCAF repeatedly declared “Egypt will not fall” and scared the masses with alleged conspiracies, as the condition of Egypt and its people steadily deteriorated. The saviour prime minister and his high priestess added to this by saying, “They are punishing us, but …”
None of these claims came to much and the interim powers sought to forget them or cover up political back pedalling on them, even by blatantly intervening in the judicial process through its servants in senior judicial positions. They said this without realising that Egypt will never fail or fall, God forbid, except under bad governance such as that of the corrupt authoritarian rule that the revolution overthrew.
Fifth, one of the symptoms of appalling conditions for Egyptians is the inability of most of them to easily buy basic commodities of quality at acceptable prices. This is caused by hikes in prices and stagnation in the incomes of the vast majority, because those in power have failed to reform the income structure and implement other prerequisites of social justice. Although prices of some commodities, such as butane canisters, were not officially raised, their actual price is very high because producers or vendors are starving the market. If prices of other commodities were not raised, quantity or quality were tampered with. These are all devious ways to raise the cost of living for the majority of Egyptians.
Meanwhile, the salvation government and the minister of supplies and trade do not tire of making positive assertions and evading their responsibility with a string of excuses. Naturally, no one expects us to overcome the deep legacy of social injustice left behind by the tyrannical regime in a short period of time, but what we want is for the salvation government to take serious steps in at least one important domain — ideally, social justice.
After that, it should begin implementing a publicised plan and timeline in other areas while parliament monitors its implementation. However, it seems that this salvation government is only concerned with sustaining the privileges of a handful of influential people who are being unfair to the vast majority of the downtrodden.
Sixth, because the interim rulers are embarrassed by their failures, they needed friendly media coverage to tamper with reality and popular awareness — even though their attempts are flagrantly transparent. This is how the standard of the official media deteriorated, especially radio and television, to all-time lows with unashamed and distasteful pandering to the authorities.
Seventh, and because of the authority’s feebleness and confusion, one of the Salafist leaders made a genius suggestion that the poor downtrodden people of Egypt should make donations to offset the deficit resulting from a possible cut in US aid to Egypt, which is mostly military aid anyway. This cut would be in reaction to an alleged foiled conspiracy, proclaimed by the authorities, about purported transgressions by some NGOs that reached judicial proceedings. But then they backed down in response to pressure by the donor.
What is important here is that the failures of the government in its principal duties, including finding alternative resources in the case of the sudden absence of some resources, tempts other influential forces to try to pounce on power. What is also disconcerting, in light of the goals of the revolution, is that neither this Salafist leader, the prime minister nor the MPs who will obey any authority, called on the wealthy and the emperors of unabashed corruption to make donations or impose taxes as a national duty, though these are the ones who benefited and became wealthy from the aid money to start with. Instead, they piled on more burdens on the simple and browbeaten who are seduced by the allure of Islam.
This is clearly not social justice but rather a malicious manipulation of religious seduction. In true Islam, there are no “preachers” because there is no room for priests or priesthood, and one of the blessings of Allah to Muslims is that the bond between a worshipper and god is direct without a mediator.
Will the incumbent interim powers, the SCAF and two houses of parliament, have mercy on the clinically dead salvation government and pull the plug? Or will they, once again, make the mistake of pursuing temporary political gains and seek to thwart — even temporarily — the aspirations of the people in completing their glorious revolution?
Since we expect failure from this circle, we must then rely on the people who hold the power and ultimate legitimacy to guarantee the commitment of this transitional authority or the next to protect the revolution of the people of Egypt in accomplishing its objectives.