Ten pillars for the future

Hossam Badrawi, Tuesday 16 Apr 2024

Hossam Badrawi sets out 10 pillars supporting political and economic reform and leading to Egypt’s renaissance

 

Many factors are intertwined in the future of any nation, and it is not possible to consider Egypt’s future in a partial manner. Instead, our vision for reform must encompass all aspects simultaneously, including political, social, economic, and cultural.

The coherence and sustainability of reform are linked to development in every field. Although the call for political reform is important and fundamental, we must not be distracted from the fact that the basic structure of the reform process starts, continues, and connects with human development and that education and culture are its main entrance points.

Human beings are the foundation of any society, and its competitiveness ultimately depends on the collective abilities of the individuals that compose it, which are amplified by teamwork and active participation. Our primary job is to build capacities and provide opportunities, and our success as a society will be to help to provide freedom for individuals to choose among multiple opportunities, along with justice, integrity, and equality of rights.

The ability to choose is the topic of the hour and the key to the future. We can turn every opportunity in front of us into a problem, but in each crisis we face, we can see and discover new opportunities that can be invested in and developed. However, this will depend on how we view things and how we address reality, which presents multiple opportunities in the transition to a new era.

The reform project that aims to bring about a renaissance of Egypt is not just about numbers on paper, deaf sentences, and abstract meanings. In the end, the spirit of reform is represented by the human beings behind the ideas and the individuals, groups and entities, which, increasing in number day by day, will become a critical mass that will accelerate achievement and yield deeper, wider, and more impactful results.

Reform is worthless if its goal is merely to underwrite a win achieved by an individual or an institution in a political debate or argument, or if it merely amplifies a voice that rises above another in a competition over who wins and who loses and who gains power or continues in it.

My political vision, which I call on society to rally around, believes in freedom in its widest and most comprehensive sense and in a civil state, political pluralism, and the respect of the opinions of others in word and deed.

I believe in freedom of belief and in a citizenship that protects every Egyptian regardless of his or her beliefs, religion, or political or social opinions. I believe that there are different ways to achieve the same goals and that the Egyptian people, through the honest means of democracy, should choose whom they see fit to achieve these goals.

I believe in individual initiative, which should be encouraged and developed because the individual is the basis of the family and society.

I believe in freedom of thought and expression within the bounds of the law and in the importance of the rotation of power in a constitutional framework that builds and does not destroy, and unites and does not divide, and in political institutions that translate their claims into action.

I believe in belonging first to Egypt and from there to our wider environment and then to all of humanity. We must be open to the rest of the world, integrated in it, confident in ourselves, and adding to human civilisation in the present and the future as we have throughout history.

In every political crisis Egypt goes through, the constitution becomes a victim, being first annulled and then a new constitution written that reflects the balance of power at that moment, whether resulting from a revolution or a coup.

The country’s constitution becomes a reference point at a time of factional disagreement, so if it is annulled in a political crisis or amended at the whim of a dominant force, it becomes worthless.

 

TEN PILLARS: We must commit to ten main pillars to achieve societal welfare, for individuals and families alike, and to work towards their happiness. These pillars are necessary for the eradication of poverty, ignorance, disease, and injustice.

The first pillar is stability in the country’s political system, which will allow for the selection of the most competent and effective individuals for office through transparency and accountability.

This should be done gradually in a planned manner that builds on people’s capacities and creates a free political climate that allows for the emergence of new leaders, ensures the institutionalisation of governance, and guarantees the peaceful transfer of power. It firmly prevents any group or institution from squandering freedoms or monopolising power.

We must affirm the identity of the modern civil state and cement it among the new generations without regression. We must close the dens of regression, Salafism, and backwardness, even as these have been courageously shut down in other countries.

The second pillar is bringing about a cultural and behavioural change in society through education, culture, and the media, setting clear policies for young people of different age groups and building a broad base of citizens capable of active participation later.

This means placing human development at the centre of all aspects of education, culture, the media, and healthcare as part of a cohesive framework aimed at creating Egyptian citizens who are physically and mentally healthy, educated, technologically empowered, enlightened, creative, responsible, proud of their country’s history and cultural identity, passionate about building its future, aware of the importance of regional and global communication, and capable of competing in every field.

The third pillar is bringing about structural change in the economy with the aim of stimulating sustainable and balanced growth, creating employment opportunities, and removing obstacles to both foreign and domestic investment to allow the economy to grow and prosper.

Achieving balanced and sustainable growth coupled with increased employment opportunities should be accompanied by giving some priority to disadvantaged population groups without this affecting the overall economy. The aim should be to achieve economic growth rates of eight to ten per cent over 15 years. This cannot be achieved except through sustainable policies supported by the population without deviation for short-term political or populist purposes.

The fourth pillar is administrative reform and changing the governance of institutions through gradual decentralisation.

The fifth pillar is protecting the environment for future generations along with the sustainable provision of clean energy and water for the increasing needs of the population.

The sixth pillar is the institutional and intellectual reform of judicial institutions and law-enforcement agencies.

The seventh pillar is defining Egypt’s role in shaping the future of Africa, the Middle East, and the world, and strategies for its implementation.

The eighth pillar is increasing the capabilities of the Egyptian army in terms of equipment and training, protecting it from involvement in political and economic activities and increasing the country’s capacity for military manufacturing.

The ninth pillar is developing an effective civil society, activating it, supporting it, and respecting citizens’ rights.

The tenth pillar is controlling the growth and distribution of the population.

Do we have clear policies and feasible ways of implementing these pillars? No one alone has all the answers, but I have sought and am seeking experts in every field, and I will be pleased to share their conclusions.

The truth is that cumulative experience and the peaceful transfer of power is the only way to sustain any policy or its implementation.

Egypt possesses the human potential, professional competencies, and younger generation benefitting from proper education and training that can give it a leading position among the world’s countries in just a single decade.

However, the challenge lies in implementation, which requires adherence to a guiding vision and efficient management at all levels without compromising on performance indicators and timelines for implementation. It also requires optimism and the positivity that can be created by decisions that are seen and felt to be restoring hope.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 18 April, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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