Since former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik announced his candidacy in the upcoming presidential elections, all I have been hearing is either fervent emotional support or unfounded attacks. This is not a promotional piece for Shafik, nor is it one against him — I am just amazed at how we have come to judge who to represent us and what we base our decisions for the future of the whole country on.
Reactions varied widely to his announcement; but to me, very few of them seemed remotely logical:
“No way, he’s part of the old regime.”
“He’s a military man, I can’t have a military man for president again.”
And my absolute favorite, “He’s one of Mubarak’s men.”
And here I was, thinking Shafik and all the rest of the candidates were to be judged on their skills, capabilities and plans for the future — as opposed to who his boss was.
That last reaction seems the most ludicrous to me, because anyone above the age of 21 who has ever worked in public service can be considered part of ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. So what? Just because Mubarak hired someone then we can’t trust that person ever again? Forget anything the person has ever done, his track record, his achievements, his strategies, or his skills — clearly all that matters is he worked under Mubarak.
If we assume that every person who worked under Mubarak was corrupt, then we should fire every single person in the public sector, every army soldier and officer and every diplomat who ever worked under the previous regime. Let’s follow into the footsteps of our great grandfathers the Pharaohs and destroy anything related to our previous rulers and start over again.
In the several times I have heard Shafik speak on a television show, not once have I heard the presenter ask him about detailed plans for the future. Not once has the interviewer, no matter how good he was, asked this presidential candidate what his economic, political and foreign affair strategies would be or how he plans to achieve the goals he sets out if he is elected president.
I really do not care what used to happen backstage in the Cabinet of Ministers’ meetings under Mubarak, or why Shafik did not resign under a regime people deem corrupt. I would much, much rather know his stand on relations with Iran and Israel for one. I would much rather find out how he plans to raise minimum wage when the country is in debt and where he stands on foreign aid, as opposed to watching him be asked if the Supreme Council of Armed Forces is blessing his candidacy.
How is it that just because Shafik was the Minister of Civil Aviation — one who achieved many practical steps in improving civil aviation and the airports in Egypt — under Mubarak’s rule, then he must have been corrupt, unpatriotic and unfit to rule the country?
If we say that most of the past regime was corrupt and therefore Shafik should have resigned when he saw such rampant corruption, then he would be abandoning the arena for the dishonest people to own the whole country. Then he would be bailing out on his duty instead of trying to fight the corruption in the Cabinet.
I am not saying that Shafik tried to fight corruption. I don’t know that. But then again, how will we know if he was? If the regime was corrupt, then it is natural that we wouldn’t hear opposition voices from within the Cabinet because the Cabinet meetings are always closed and the public only hear what officials want us to hear.
I am all for digging into Shafik’s history and putting him under the hottest spotlight, as we should with every presidential candidate; he might, after all, rule our country. But instead of recklessly accusing someone of corruption just because he worked under a certain regime, let's give him a fair evaluation. Let’s see what people who worked with him say about him. Let’s see how effective, or ineffective, he was at his job and how honest, or dishonest, he was.
I am not discussing how fit or unfit Shafik is for the presidency, because I haven't made up my mind on that. I am just saying let’s be a little less emotional and a little more logical in our judgments. There’s no point scratching the artwork off the temple just because the former Pharaoh was the one who commissioned it.