By Elias Munshya wa Munshya
The so called revolution in Egypt has received lots of praise world-over. US President Barack Obama showed his political naivety by dumping Mubarak very quickly and calling the Tahrir Square revolution “a voice of democracy.” However, in this article I wish to argue that while the Egyptians were justified in their protests, they got it wrong when they insisted on the immediate resignation of President Mubarak. Egyptians should have given Mubarak the chance to leave office after September 2011. The forced resignation of Mubarak and the subsequent Army coup does not serve the interests of democracy as it is a potential replacement of one dictatorship with a worst one.
This revolution had very little preparation. When the people gathered in Tahrir Square, they had no plan and no blueprint for the shape of their post-Mubarak democracy. There is only one thing that united them—the end of the Mubarak regime. And that is where the danger lay. You cannot overthrow a dictatorship without plans for what you will do after the dictator is gone. It will be a very sad world, where people simply move to remove dictators without adequate democratic alternatives and preparation. Couldn’t it have been better for the Egyptians to first create some form of structure and agree on important policy and political matters before Mubarak went?
Modern history teaches us that the most enduring revolutions are the French Revolution and the American Revolution which took place centuries ago. These revolutions have gallantly stood the test of time due to the fact that the French as well the Americans had an idea about the kind of democracy and nation they were hoping to create. The greatest reason why America still stands to date is because the Americans not only fought against the British dictatorship but they had a plan in place of how they would govern themselves. They had it all well planned. In Egypt we see no such plans about democracy-uniting to simply remove Mubarak is not plan enough. Very seldom is democracy born out of a disorganised revolution.
On the other hand, the real hypocrite in the Mubarak debacle is still the United State of America. It is the US that made Mubarak and it is the US that kept him and propped him up in power. President Obama seemed to give the impression that America was on the side of the ordinary Egyptians protesting on the streets. But clearly, America reacted that way and dumped Mubarak because he was not serving their interests anymore. America will now work within any regime in Egypt to protect its interests in the region. These interests unfortunately may not be identical to the aspirations of all those people who were protesting in Cairo and Alexandria. America’s speed at disowning Mubarak is consistent with her foreign policy: prop-up African dictators and then dump them when they do not serve American interests. American sincerity in Egypt and in other parts of Africa should not just be seen when people protest the American aligned dictators. American sincerity in international politics should be judged by their alignment to the will of the people. However, from the lessons we learn from Mobutu Seseseko to the Mubarak regime America only serves her own interests. It was a disgrace for America to neglect Mubarak at a critical hour and let the Egyptian nation yield itself to an uncertain future. Or maybe the future is more certain for American interests. There should be something in it, for Americans to turn against Mubarak. Americans do not just do those things for nothing!
No doubt that when fighting a common enemy in Mubarak, Muslims as well as Copts became compatriots fighting a just cause. But the true measure of Egyptian unity does not lie with what people did in the past few weeks; but with whether after this so called revolution; Egyptians will be more tolerant to their fellow citizens who espouse a different faith. It is common knowledge that under Mubarak, the Christian Copts were marginalized. But there is no guarantee that with the Army in charge the life of the Christian minority in Egypt will get any easier. Besides, if the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood is to be taken seriously, it means that the future of the Christian minority in Egypt is even in deeper jeopardy. United they stood in Tahrir, but divided they stand after Mubarak is gone.
Egypt should have learnt a lesson from the way Zambia handled its dictator in Kenneth Kaunda. When it was apparent that the people of Zambia were fed up with Kaunda’s dictatorship in 1986, the people of Zambia forced the president and the political regime to go for elections. Elections still remain the most formidable way to get rid of a dictatorship. Zambians allowed Kaunda to stay on in power, from 1986 to 1991, to organize elections and even accepted Kaunda’s candidature in those 1991 elections. The people spoke very emphatically through the ballot and the Kaunda regime was defeated. At least that is a transition that would inspire the tenets of democracy and not the uprising we saw in Egypt. For now the Egyptians would be wishing they had heeded Mubarak’s desire to stay on until September.
Between now and September, Mubarak could have started to work on elections and on transition. The ordinary Egyptians themselves could have also been given the opportunity to sharpen their manifestos and negotiate a just political future. But alas! They were overtaken by the desire to overthrow the Mubarak regime such that they were blinded to the kind of future that such actions would bring.
In the meantime, the Army is in charge. It has suspended the constitution, dissolved parliament and is ruling by decree. The same people in Tahrir Square who protested against Mubarak just last week still find themselves protesting against the Army dictatorship. The future is definitely uncertain. And if there is any lesson we can learn from Egypt it is the lesson of how we should not carry out a revolution. And in fact, it is not a revolution that which betrays the tenets of democracy. It cannot be a genuine revolution that only topples the top dictator but leaves all other structures that made up the dictatorial regime intact. The only way out of misery for Egyptians should have been the ballot in September. But between now and then, we may all surrender ourselves to the possibility that defeating Mubarak has made the Egyptians only swap one Pharaoh for another.