Authority without legitimacy

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Egypt has many parallels with Zambia.
In their last elections not many Egyptian activists really wanted to vote for Islamist Mohamed Morsi. They were afraid of his attachment to the Moslem Brotherhood fraternity which in turn embraced extreme Islamic tendencies.
Egyptians wanted a liberal, secular state in which they would enjoy rights and freedoms across all political, sectarian and religious divides.
However the choices during the elections were stark. The choice was between Morsi who seemed sympathetic to the liberal cause or the former Prime Minister under Mubarak who would most certainly take the country back to authoritarian days. In the end activists had no choice but vote for Morsi, in spite of the danger of “islamisation”.
Their worst fears have come to pass. His recent move to grab power putting himself above the law has lost their support, which he may never regain.
In grabbing absolute power Morsi hoped to craft a constitution that was heavily laden with Sharia edicts, values and norms. He had hoped to subject the draft constitution to a referendum, in record time and speed to avoid oversight by the Judiciary which would have deemed it unconstitutional for the sectarian clauses.
Morsi was absolutely certain and the activists were also fully aware that Egyptians, tired of the constant stresses the country has been suffering would allow the new draft out of sheer frustration and in desperate need for peace and calm.
Morsi did not however, count on the resilience and determination of the activist movement that initiated the revolution in Egypt and in many ways saw to his victory.
In spite of earlier promises not to push a hard line Islamist agenda what has come out recently is that Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood heavyweight running on the Islamist group’s ticket is determined to push a conservative agenda.
This has incensed activists who feel cheated and betrayed. They believe that the 51.7 percent win that Morsi received could not have been achieved if they did not offer him their support. They are now confronted with the daunting task of taking back the initiative.
What started off as an effective working relationship has quickly soured into a violent confrontation At least six people have been killed, and hundreds more injured, after Morsi supporters attacked a group of protesters camped outside the Presidential palace, and as the two sides battled each other with firebombs, pellet guns, and bricks, the army intervened with tanks to restore calm.
Obviously two things have happened. Morsi has authority but lacks legitimacy.
The erosion of authority will invariably give rise to totalitarianism. Instead of providing social identity, stability and reassurance, authority that has collapsed is isolated, disoriented and therefore prone to dictatorial excesses in order to legitimize itself.
Ultimately authority becomes a threat because it demands unquestioning obedience. Liberty will then be constrained and   dictatorship becomes entrenched and the exercise of crude power that lacks legitimacy becomes the norm.
Naked power can only be transformed into rightful authority if the tenets of good governance, democracy and adherence to institutional integrity are embraced.
Unless Government is rule bound, it is bound to disintegrate.

Categorized | Editorial

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