As Mohamed Morsi
completes his first month in office as Egypt’s first president after Mubarak, he is being assessed according to a set of promises he pledged would be fulfilled within 100 days of his taking the oath.
A few days before the second round of the presidential elections in June, Morsi laid out these promises, based on the Muslim Brotherhood's "Renaissance Project." The promises are spread across five sectors that constitute the country’s most pressing issues: security, traffic, fuel, bread and sanitation.
With regard to Egypt’s longstanding bread crisis, Morsi had promised a number of measures, including an increase in the productivity and nutritional value of flour, the separation of production value from that of distribution, and higher wages.
Following months of a butane crisis, which had reached a high of LE40 in January and March, as opposed to its set price of LE5, this is another priority for Morsi. Delivering butane cylinders to citizens in their homes in coordination with NGOs, and implementing penalties for those attempting to smuggle fuel, were specified in his list of promises.
Tackling problems, or easy measures?
"These are not the 100-day promises Egyptians were waiting to see from the first post-revolution president", stated Nadeem Mansour executive manager of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights.
Although these are "easy demands" which could be achieved, Mansour asserts that none of the main points from within the five themes have been achieved, or seem to be progressing anywhere.
Addressing core issues such as the minimum and maximum wage are still being sidelined and ignored, he adds. "No root changes have taken place over the past month to address the most pressing issues regarding wages, health issues and social welfare," Mansour explained, before pointing to increased labour unrest over the past month.
Numerous labour strikes and sit-ins across the country in Suez, Mahalla, and the Red Sea and in Cairo, outside the presidential palace, have been staged over the past month.
One of the most pressing issues is that of security, and what many have described as a security vacuum since the 25 January Revolution. Some of the measures Morsi proposed included implementing a far-reaching media campaign to increase confidence in the police force, maintaining a constant presence in public space, starting an emergency hotline for citizens, and providing more humane detention facilities.
Security specialist and former brigadier general who wrote a book about possible radical police reforms, Mahmoud Kotri, believes that there have been no indicators so far in regards to any changes taking place within the security system.
He also noted that no attempts have been made to provide an "extensive security plan", to work towards those goals. Additionally, no changes have been made to the ministry of interior, not even changing the minister.
The security forces should first of all provide security, Kotri explains, and after that people should be tried for their actions, where law and order is enforced and "not the other way around."
While there have indeed been security forces on the streets following Morsi’s second day in office, Kotri says they were mainly there to carry out disciplinary measures and fining people, rather than "ensuring security and making people feel safe in the street."
In regards to traffic – a pressing issue in Cairo one of the most highly congested cities in the world – Morsi had pledged a number of measures such as installing parking spaces near the metro stations in an attempt to encourage car owners to use the metro instead. Another measure was to allow trucks on the streets from 12 in the evening until 6 in the morning only.
With regard to sanitation, the plan includes creating media campaigns and preaching in Friday sermons to encourage people not to throw garbage in the street. Work incentives and promotions for employees in the garbage industry, were also included. Moreover, working with local coordination committees in the different neighborhoods to work towards ensuring cleanliness and coordinating with different state institutions working to that effect, have also been proposed.
"No news has been received so far over any policies to be implemented on a centralised state level", explained environmental consultant, Basma Gaber. She believes that the points and measures presented by Morsi are simply a matter of attempting to tackle the symptoms of the issues, and not address the core itself.
What needs to done instead, says Gaber, is implementing the strategies developed over the past couple of years by numerous NGOs for solid waste management.
"He should have exerted an effort into looking at how to implement the strategies, as opposed to promising to increase the salaries of those working in waste collection, in an attempt to encourage them to work."
What has however been evident is a massive voluntary-based initiative carried out by the Freedom and Justice Party, "A Clean Country" which was launched over the weekend to clean up different neighborhoods.
Gaber however shrugs off the initiative since firstly, it is an initiative not a project, and thus cannot be sustainable. Secondly, it is "unrealistic" in a country that suffers one of the largest waste management problems in the world, she added.
Assessing Morsi’s progress
A social media initiative has also been launched to assess Morsi's progress, morsimeter.com. Morsi's progress so far stood at near nil with the one achievement so far pertaining to the implementation of a media awareness campaign for cleanliness.
While these sets of promises are important to assess, political analyst Ayman El-Sayyad clarifies that citizens need to understand that the 100-day promises cannot be achieved at such a “crucial time” that the country is experiencing.
El-Sayyad believes that skeptics are shortsighted and do not take into account a couple of defining issues. Firstly, he states, Morsi is dealing with state institutions that are not cooperating with him. Citizens have very high and sometimes unrealistic expectations of what the president can achieve in 100 days, El-Sayyad says, adding that there are also several people simply waiting for the president to fail.
Morsi has addressed a set of issues over the past month, though some of these were not strictly part of the 100-day plan. Very soon after being sworn in, he instituted a system where citizens could air their grievances at the presidential palace, in an attempt to appear more accessible to Egyptian citizens.
He also set up a committee to study the cases of approximately 12,000 detainees undergoing military trials; 572 so far were pardoned on 23 July. El-Sayyad states however that it became evident during period that the interior ministry was not cooperating with Morsi, dragging its feet when it came to providing the needed documentation to carry this out.
Morsi’s second foreign visit – after a first to Saudi Arabia – was to Ethiopia. This marked the first time that the Egyptian head of state visited the Nile Basin partner country since an assassination attempt on Mubarak’s in 1995. The visit was seen as a positive step in attempting to rekindle relations between the two nations over emergent disputes over the Nile water.
El-Sayyad further added that we have to keep mind that during his first days in office, Morsi had to deal a number of pressing issues – not least of which was the Constitutional Addendum. Issued on 17 June, the addendum gave the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) full legislative powers at the expense of a dissolved parliament.
"The current political scene does not give Morsi a chance to fulfill his set of promises," al-Sayyad says. "The people need to think realistically about what can be achieved in 100 days."