Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1233, (12 - 18 February 2015)
Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Issue 1233, (12 - 18 February 2015)

Ahram Weekly

New governors, new hopes

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi appointed 17 new regional governors this week, mixing younger people with academics and a handful of political activists, reports Reem Leila

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Al-Ahram Weekly

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi received 17 newly appointed regional governors at the Al-Ittihadiyya Palace in Cairo early on the morning of 7 February. They were there to swear their oaths of allegiance, along with a handful of deputy governors.

The new appointments were delayed after an earlier list of candidates was rejected by the president, citing the presence on it of 11 retired armed forces personnel, which could have raised criticism from the public that the leadership was overly military.

The newly appointed governors include two judges and three politicians, departing from previous practice in which most appointees were politicians. The remaining appointees include university professors, former government managers and the CEOs of industrial companies.

The new appointments do not include any women or Copts. However, there are three women among the deputy governors.

Al-Sisi met with the ten new governors and their deputies after they had sworn their oaths of office. He called for creative and unconventional approaches to the problems impeding the development of the country’s governorates. Al-Sisi also said it is important that the new officials stay in close contact with the people, in order to become better acquainted with their needs.

“The tasks assigned to you and your deputies are to closely monitor the situation in the governorates, maintain security and stability, and stay closely connected to citizens in order to provide services responsive to their needs,” Al-Sisi said.

The president instructed the new governors to improve the quality of services provided to citizens in order to fulfill people’s basic needs and contribute to achieving their aspirations for social justice and human dignity.

Eight of the newly appointed governors are in the Nile Delta governorates, six in the Upper Egyptian governorates, two in the Canal cities and another in Marsa Matrouh.

The newly appointed governors are Khaled Zakariya Al-Adli in Giza, Hani Youssef Al-Messeri in Alexandria, Yassin Hossam Al-Din in Ismailia, Magdi Nasreddin in Port Said, Yasser Al-Dessouki Atteya in Assiut, Alaa Fathi Abu Zeid in Marsa Matrouh, Reda Abdel-Salam Ibrahim in Sharqiyya, Said Mustafa Kamel in Gharbiyya, Hossam Al-Din Imam in Daqahliyya, Ayman Mohamed Abdel-Moneim in Sohag, Wael Mohamed Nabieh in Fayoum, Hesham Abdel-Baset Younis in Menoufia, Osama Hamdi Abdel-Wahed in Kafr Al-Sheikh, Mohamed Sayed Badr in Luxor, Ismail Abdel-Hamid Taha in Damietta, Mohamed Ali Ahmed in Beheira and Mohamed Hefni Ibrahim in Beni Suef.

Among governors who remain in office are Galal Al-Said in Cairo, and Abdel-Fattah Harhour and Khaled Fouda in North Sinai and South Sinai, respectively.

After the ceremony, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb told the press that the new governors range in agebetween 40 and 60 years. “The new governors will have to make the greatest possible efforts in their governorates. Each of us must do his utmost, given the current economic woes in the country,” he said.

Among the most controversial appointments was that of Hani Youssef Al-Messeri in Alexandria. He has been the subject of a wave of positive comments by female Facebook and Twitter users, in part because of his good looks.

Some women on social networks have had high praise for the new governor, while others have criticised the posters for forgetting their feminist principles.

Al-Messeri, dubbed “the handsome one,” is the nephew of the late Abdel-Wahab Al-Messeri, a prominent member of the Kefaya opposition movement. Al-Messeri holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master’s degree from Alexandria University. He is married and has three children.

The new governor of Menoufia, Abdel-Baset Younis, 44, is considered a controversial appointment. A former mayor of Al-Sadat City and vice-mayor of Berket Al-Sabaa village in the Menoufia governorate, Younis sent a message to Ahmed Ezz, then appearing on a television talk show, urging him not to stand for the upcoming parliament. Ezz is the former secretary for organisational affairs of the now-dismantled former ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

“How dare he nominate himself for the forthcoming elections after the corruption he was responsible for in political life? For the sake of the country, withdraw your nomination papers,” Younis told Ezz.

For the new governor, collective work will lead to success. “I will work on solving problems such as the lack of butane gas cylinders and will work day and night to finish pending projects, in order to give all the governorate’s citizens a better quality of life,” he said.

The appointments of the new governors have also caused controversy because of the lack of public criteria for their selection. According to Mahmoud Kamal, an expert in human development, candidates for such posts must have leadership skills and be able to share views with assistants and deputies.

“He must be a leader rather than a manager or director,” Kamal said, adding that candidates for the post should also be politically neutral and not belong to any existing political trend.

“If any of the candidates is a member of any party or political movement, after his appointment as governor he must resign this affiliation and be the governor of all the citizens in his governorate,” he added.

Wahid Abdel-Maguid, of the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, said that there were no clear criteria for selecting new governors or dismissing old ones. “Criteria exist when there is an integrated national plan at the macro and micro levels, according to which a governor’s performance is evaluated. But this was not the case when the new governors replaced the others,” Abdel-Maguid said.

Previous governors were dismissed for no reason, he said, and governors who were kept in place did not necessarily have a record of success that justified them staying in office.

Abdel-Maguid expressed his disappointment at the way the new appointments were made. He also said that newly appointed governors had not received appropriate advice.

“This state of ignorance will continue until the decision-makers realise that what the country needs is a comprehensive vision for the future and a plan to be implemented in accordance with this vision,” Abdel-Maguid added.

The former governor of Menoufia, Ahmed Sherine Fawzi, said that he had not been given any warning of his dismissal. “I do not know why I was dismissed. I have accomplished many projects in the governorate that will be remembered by its citizens. I am not sad at leaving my post, though I would have preferred to remain in it to continue the unfinished projects,” he said.

The dismissal of the former governor of Damietta, Mohamed Abdel-Latif Mansour, was apparently welcomed in Damietta, where many say he failed to accomplish meaningful projects.

The governor of Minya, Salah Zeyada, not included in the new appointments, said he was not told until the last minute whether or not he would retain his post. “I would have thanked God for whatever happened, whether I had stayed or left the post,” he said.

The newly appointed governor of Giza, Khaled Zakariya Al-Adli, told the media he has plans to solve the governorate’s many problems.

“The Giza governorate, one of the most important in the country, has many overwhelming problems and it requires double the efforts of any other governor. I have solutions to the governorate’s problems, and I will turn the governorate’s negative points into positive ones,” he said.

Human development expert Kamal said there are other governors who should have been reshuffled, including the governor of Cairo. “He has failed to maintain security or cleanliness. He is also impolite and has insulted people who complain to him on the media. He also denies the existence of problems in his governorate,” Kamal said.

He added that the new governors must now study the challenges facing them in order to find proper solutions. “The post is not just a prestigious one. It also has repercussions that should be properly understood in order to guarantee acceptable professional performance,” he said.

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