Thirteen new cabinet ministers were sworn in on Sunday, a day after the House of Representatives approved a cabinet shake-up in an emergency session called for by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.
Mustafa Madbouli, who has served as prime minister since June 2018, retained his position.
The latest changes to his cabinet are the fifth since Madbouli’s appointment, following shake ups in February, March and December 2019, and in October 2020.
Ten service sector portfolios — education, higher education, health, irrigation and water resources, emigration and expatriates affairs, civil aviation, culture, local development, labour force and military production — and three economic portfolios — public enterprise, trade and industry, and tourism and antiquities – changed hands.
In a brief statement to parliament on 13 August, President Al-Sisi said the changes had been made in consultation with Madbouli and in line with the constitution. After thanking the outgoing ministers for their service, Al-Sisi said the reshuffle “aimed at upgrading the government’s performance in key sectors, preserving the state’s interests and capabilities, and improving public services offered to citizens”.
Tarek Shawki, who had served as education minister since 2017, is replaced by Reda Hegazi, a former deputy minister for teachers’ affairs. MPs cheered Shawki’s departure. His reforms have long been subject to scathing attacks from both parents and teachers.
Hegazi, in a statement ahead of the swearing-in ceremony, said he would focus on improving the financial condition of school teachers.
“You will never get good education in the absence of loyal and devoted teachers, and that means improving their financial conditions,” said Hegazi.
Irrigation minister Mohamed Abdel-Atti is replaced by Hani Sweilam, professor of sustainable development at the American University in Cairo (AUC). Nader Noureddin, a professor of water resources at Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering, said that since coming to office in 2016, Abdel-Atti had done a good job rationalising water consumption and reducing losses of Nile water.
“The new irrigation minister should continue with the same policies in order to mitigate the impact of any reduction in Nile flow caused by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,” said Noureddin.
Most political analysts believe economic pressure from the fallout of the war in Ukraine, in the form of shrinking foreign exchange reserves and higher inflation, was a major factor behind the surprise reshuffle.
Hisham Tawfik, who had served as public enterprise minister since 2018, is being replaced by Mahmoud Mustafa Esmat, a former chairman of the Cairo Company for Glass Manufacturing. Khaled Al-Anany, minister of tourism and antiquities since 2016, is replaced by Commercial International Bank (CIB) Executive Director Ahmed Eissa, while Nevine Gamea, who had held the trade and industry portfolio since 2019, will hand it over to Ahmed Samir, the outgoing head of the House of Representative’s Economic Affairs Committee.
None of the so-called sovereign ministries are changing hands. Minister of Defence Mohamed Zaki, Minister of Interior Mahmoud Tawfik, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukri and Minister of Justice Omar Marawan have all been kept in post.
The shake up brings some new faces to the cabinet table. Soha Samir, a deputy foreign minister and manager of the African department, replaces Nabila Makram at the Ministry of Emigration.
Commander of the Egyptian Air Force Mohamed Abbas becomes minister of civil aviation in place of Mohamed Manar Ennaba. Hassan Mohamed Hassan Shehata was named minister of labour force instead of Mohamed Saafan. Shehata is the secretary-general of the General Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions (GEFTU). Nevine Youssef Al-Kilani replaces Enas Abdel-Dayem as minister of culture. Al-Kilani is the Dean of the Academy of Arts’ Higher Institute for Art Criticism.
Hisham Abdel-Ghani Amna, governor of Beheira, was named minister of local development, replacing Mahmoud Shaarawi.
Hassan Salama, a professor of political science at Cairo University, says some cabinet ministers lost their jobs “for poor performance, others for falling foul of public opinion”.
“Ministers like Mohamed Shaker, who has been minister of electricity since 2014, and Minister of Transport Kamel Al-Wazir, both popular because of the improvements they have made to services, were left in post.”
Speculation is rife that a reshuffle of Egypt’s 27 provincial governors is now on the cards.
“Such changes are common after cabinet reshuffles. And now Beheira governor Hisham Amna has been named the new minister of local development, someone will have to fill his post,” said Salama.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 18 August, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.