Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1377, ( 18 - 24 January 2018)
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1377, ( 18 - 24 January 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Altering the gender balance

In a limited cabinet reshuffle women were appointed to lead the ministries of tourism and culture, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

 

Altering the gender balance
Altering the gender balance

MPs approved the appointment of four new ministers and two deputy ministers on Sunday.Ines Abdel-Dayem becomes minister of culture and Rania Al-Mashat will head the Tourism Ministry, the first women have held the posts.

The appointment of Abdel-Dayem and Al-Mashat raises the number of women heading cabinet portfolios to six for the first time in Egypt’s history.

Abdel-Dayem, 58, chair of the Opera House, replaces writer Helmi Al-Namnam. Abdel-Dayem, an accomplished flautist, holds a PhD from France. Well-known economist Al-Mashat replaces Yehia Rashed as minister of tourism. Al-Mashat, a graduate of the American University in Cairo, holds a PhD from the University of Maryland. She has served as sub-governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) and head of the CBE’s Monetary Policy Department, is a member of the board of the stock market and an advisor with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

New appointees also include Abu Bakr Al-Guindi as the minister of local development and Khaled Badawi as minister of the public sector. Al-Guindi, a former head of the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS), replaces Hisham Al-Sherif. Badawi replaces Ashraf Al-Sharqawi. Badawi, born in 1970, holds a PhD from Cairo University’s Faculty of Economics and Political Science.

“Badawi is currently working as the executive director of Al-Ahly Capital and has long experience in business administration,” said Parliamentary Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal during the plenary session to ratify the appointments. Assem Al-Gazzar and Tarek Amin become deputy minister of housing and deputy minister of health, respectively. Al-Gazzar holds a PhD in urban planning and currently serves as deputy head of the Urban Planning Authority. Amin holds a PhD in public health and has managed the National Population Council. At the outset of Sunday’s 10-minute “extraordinary session” Abdel-Aal reminded MPS that Article 147 of Egypt’s 2014 constitution allows the president to impose a limited cabinet reshuffle after consulting with the prime minister and gaining the approval of a majority of MPs. 

Article 129 of parliament’s internal bylaws states that “when a cabinet reshuffle is submitted by the president parliament must vote on it during its next session. MPs can approve or reject it without making changes,” explained Abdel-Aal.

The new six appointees were sworn in before President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi late on Sunday.

President Al-Sisi stressed in a meeting with the new cabinet ministers that they should prioritise improving public services, Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Radi told reporters.

Speculation had been growing that Prime Minister Sherif Ismail would be replaced by Housing Minister Mustafa Madbouli who has been acting as prime minister since November when Ismail left for medical treatment in Germany. Ismail, who returned to Egypt on 21 December, held meetings with both Abdel-Dayem and Al-Mashat on Sunday.

Support for Sunday’s move was not unanimous. “Unjustifiable” is how the left-leaning 25-30 group of MPs described the changes. “Nobody knows why some ministers were replaced and others kept in place,” said the 14-member group in a statement. “We believe three months ahead of a presidential election, which will be followed by a comprehensive reshuffle, is not the time to make changes,” said the statement.

Independent MP Samir Ghattas told Al-Ahram Weekly “the reshuffle should not be confined to changing faces” but should redress “the policies of Sherif Ismail’s government which is implementing IMF orders that have led to skyrocketing prices”.

The appointment of Abdel-Dayem and Al-Mashat to the cabinet was welcomed by women MPs.

“With the new cabinet reshuffle women now head the ministries of tourism, culture, investment, social solidarity, planning and Egyptian expatriates,” MP Maisa Atwa told the Weekly.

“This accounts for 20 per cent of the total number of portfolios and sends the message women are qualified to serve in all sectors.”

Mohamed Al-Sewidi, head of the majority Support Egypt parliamentary bloc argues “the reshuffle is significant because it named Abu Bakr Al-Guindi as the new minister of local development.”

“There is a lot of corruption in this sector and former minister Hisham Al-Sherif was not doing enough to fight it,” said Al-Sewidi, an indirect reference to Hisham Abdel-Baset, the governor of Menoufiya who was arrested on Sunday on charges of corruption.

But a TV statement made by Al-Guindi following his appointment provoked anger among MPs on Monday. Al-Guindi told Al-Hayat Channel “there must be new policies that stem the tide of Upper Egyptian citizens migrating to Cairo because they are mainly to blame for the proliferation of slum and haphazard communities around the city.”

Some MPs said Al-Guindi’s statement reflected an inherent racism and demanded he apologise before parliament.

Sunday’s reshuffle is the fourth since Prime Minister Ismail was appointed in September 2015.A reshuffle in March 2016 resulted in 11 new appointees. In February 2017 four cabinet ministers were replaced.

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