Egypt's civil society must be transparent

Mohamed Abul Ghar
Monday 18 Apr 2016

In New York, I am following the incredibly detailed accounts that have been revealed by the Panama Papers about the money laundering conducted by many of the current and former world leaders and international figures including Russian President Putin, the father of the prime minister of Britain, David Cameron, Alaa Mubarak and others.

And it looks like many other names, who might be less recognised at the international level, will be revealed soon.

We are living in a world where secrets are easily revealed. It is no longer possible to keep illicit deals hidden for long years as the case used to be before. And it does not take long either for litigation, national and then international, to be pursued against those involved in corruption.

Corruption is a big issue for our beloved country. It has been there, growing and fast expanding, throughout the rule of Mubarak. And there are hardly any signs that the state today is set to take a firm stance against corruption.

Unfortunately, turning a blind eye to corruption would lead us to a major crisis, especially as we are already faced with considerable economic and political challenges at the home front and at the same time are faced with a real international relations crisis.

It is our duty as citizens to put pressure on the state to face up to corruption and to clean up the mess that it had caused so far. Otherwise we have no way out of the many ailments we are stuck with.

The question today is where to start in handling this quagmire of corruption.

I think the obvious answer to this question should have been the security and legislative bodies. Unfortunately, however, many would argue that these very bodies have not been exactly immune against corruption and are therefore in no position to take the necessary action on the matter.

Obviously the media too should have a direct role in the combat of corruption. There too, however, we do have questions of credibility.

It would therefore be the responsibility of civil society, syndicates, political parties and of course the credible press to live up to this daunting challenge.

However, it was just a few weeks ago that the state decided to pursue an aggressive campaign against civil society – which was later suspended as a result of a public outcry prompted by the attack on credible and highly respected NGOs.

It might be a matter of time before civil society will have to take up a fight with the networks of corruption. For civil society to be able to have the upper hand in this battle, its own organisaitons and political parties would have themselves to be pursuing the requirements of transparency and accountability.

I am calling on the honourable men and women who work for highly respected organisations like the Nadeem centre, Nazra and others to make a point of promoting this required transparency to make sure that civil society groups stand strong and immune against any accusations or manipulations.

This should also be the case with political parties.

Obviously the failure of a single group from civil society to pursue transparency and accountability would simply discredit the efforts and harm the image of NGOs and political parties in general.

Again, as I was following the news reported by the New York Ttimes, I was thinking that we live in a world where we are no longer speaking of bugging a phone here or there but rather where the entire telephone network of security and state officials could be all followed and recorded by international agencies. And this is being clearly suggested from the news reporting on the story of the killing of an Italian researcher in Egypt.

It is upon our NGOs, our political parties and our syndicates that we count most today in our war against corruption; they should be highly alert against any loopholes in their conduct just as much as they should be very cautious against the determined breach attempts that the security bodies are conducting.

And in all cases, members of civil society should be aware that the attack against them is far from over – and that it is only a matter of time before the security bodies are again on the offensive.

*The writer is the former head of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.


Short link: