Egyptian cabinet reshuffle: No fundamental changes in policies

A few days ago, during an extraordinary meeting that lasted only 14 minutes, the Egyptian parliament passed a cabinet reshuffle that included 13 ministers out of the 32 in the government of Dr Mostafa Madbouly, which has been in place since June 2018. The amendment that some have been waiting for more than a year as a glimmer of hope for improving the conditions of Egyptians, especially the economy, is nothing but a change and renewal of the faces that the public has been bored of. Still, the policies of the regime of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi will remain as they are, and there does not seem to be any intention to change them. Several ministerial changes were expected, such as the dismissal of Health Minister Hala Zayed, whose name was linked to the bribery scandal of her ex-husband, who used her position to facilitate granting licenses to private hospitals without fulfilling the conditions. The overthrow of the Minister of Immigration, Nabila Makram, was also expected after the scandal accused her son of a double murder in the United States of America.

The change of some other ministers was not because they did not convince Sisi of their performance. Still, it was a security vision aimed at alleviating the societal anger resulting from the failure to handle the files handled by these ministers. Like the Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Dr Mohamed Abdel-Aty, whose name is associated in the minds of the Egyptians with the file of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which threatens Egypt’s share in the waters of the Nile River, and which Addis Ababa, a few days ago, succeeded in completing its third filling phase without moving the Sisi regime still.

The dismissal of Education Minister Tariq Shawky also came in this context. Where the regime saw that changing it would contribute to alleviating anger over the failure of the new education system, Shawqi was his spiritual father. Meanwhile, the Minister of the Business Sector, Hisham Tawfiq, was dismissed, due to his association in the minds of the Egyptians with the plans to privatize state property, which is currently in full swing, to the extent that some called him the “Minister of the Liquidation of the Public Sector.”

The change of the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Khaled al-Anani, was also expected. Months ago, there was a campaign by the regime’s newspapers against him, where he was described as the “Minister of Parties and Shows” and accused of attempting to steal “the show fig” and attribute Sisi’s achievements to himself. The problem is who took his place. The new Minister of Tourism is the CEO of the retail banking sector at the Commercial International Bank, Ahmed Issa Taha, and he has nothing to do with tourism or antiquities!

Although some of the regime’s media professionals have promoted the ministerial change as an excellent precursor to solving many of the country’s crises, this is a far-fetched dream. What is happening is nothing more than an attempt to absorb the Egyptians’ anger over the Sisi regime’s failure in dealing with many files. Evidence for this is that the change did not affect any essential ministries such as Foreign Affairs, Defense, Interior, Finance and Supply, which indicates that the main lines of the regime’s policies will remain the same.

The regime’s choices of new ministers confirm that what is happening is merely a renewal of faces and nothing more. For example, the new Minister of Education, Reda Hegazy, is a deputy to the late Minister, Tarek Shawky. He has always expressed his conviction and support for Shawky’s plans, which enjoy the approval of Sisi personally, which means that the new education system, which has proven to be a failure in many aspects, continues as it is.

Also, the dismissal of the Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources and the introduction of others do not affect the fate of essential files such as the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and relations with the countries of the sources of the Nile. Everyone knows that these files fall under the responsibility of the Egyptian General Intelligence mainly and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to a lesser extent. The same is true of the dismissed Minister of Business Sector. The privatization plans are not his brainchild. But instead, he is just an administrative employee who carries out the lofty wishes of President Sisi, who has repeatedly expressed his conviction that the state should get rid of many public sector companies. What Egypt needs now to extricate it from its economic, political and societal crises is much more than a mere ministerial change. Egypt needs to change all its ideas and policies, which will only happen by changing the system.