Since the January 25 revolution, Egypt has been undergoing many changes, uncertainties, and challenges. The Egyptian population at large suffered greatly under ousted president Hosni Mubarak. The absence of democratic values such as freedom of speech coupled with the imbalances in Egyptian life seen most clearly in the rising unemployment, the pressures in paying for food and everyday goods, the spread of the black market, added to the many frustrations civilians had to endure. Change has to come fast and the population is impatient.
The many worker protests that are taking place in Egypt now are a clear reflection of the frustrations. It is no surprise that many workers protest now for better working conditions, better salaries, and most importantly, for a change of leadership in companies in the hope of eliminating corruption. Yet with the protests comes new vexations for the population at large trying to figure out how to bring about real changes. It is not uncommon to hear of people complaining of the protestors for being impatient and greedy. Yet what it does show is that the population is starving for change, for a better and more accommodating existence.
Within that context, President Mohammed Morsi’s 100 day plan is a very solid and positive approach to changing some of the basic yet fundamental aspects of the everyday life of Egyptians. Within the first 100 days of Morsi’s presidency, he has announced plans to resolve problems relating to public transport, national security, garbage, bread, and gas. Yet the 100 day plan has also given rise to some controversy. The confusion started over when the 100 day plan should be implemented: from the time Morsi was elected President, or from the point the first government has been appointed with his leadership.
And this in fact raises the more fundamental question: should the Egyptian population let itself be caught up in hopes for sudden change? Or should we seek sustainable change that needs to be derived from institutions over time as well as from a government of probity. The youth of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group President Morsi only left when he became president of Egypt, and the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, have offered in the past few days to help implement the 100 day plan. They suggested that they should be trained up by the public police in how to regulate the traffic. Additionally they are willing to mobilize some of their members to help in guarding the bread in some districts to assure an equal and just distribution.
This must surely be a noble gesture. It goes down particularly well with the elder generation, who are heartened and hopeful when they are reassured that the youth will do something useful to help rebuild Egypt. On the other hand, it also means that the Muslim Brotherhood, the political group Morsi once belonged to, is mobilizing itself to help him achieve his 100 day plan, while having no visible prospects for sustaining these changes through institutions. The notion of institutional change still seems quite beyond the grasp of many Egyptians.
Many are restless and hope for ‘change’, which often translates into ‘any kind of change’; yet which path to choose is still unclear and for many not even an issue to be considered for now.