HomeFeatured NewsAn exercise in which Kais Saïed excels. But there are thousands of...

An exercise in which Kais Saïed excels. But there are thousands of Ariana

Criticizing a head of state is not an easy task, nor is it always easy. There are even times when critics get tired of it, so much so that it seems like trying to preach in the desert, so lacking is the interaction between Carthage and the media (and even less so the journalists). So we say to ourselves that it is not bad to talk about the train arriving on time.

It could be certainly argued that Kaïs Saïd is still doing his “Omar Al Farouq”, or that he is simply indulging in the crowd-pleasing that is essential to his popularity and populism. But the fact remains that in a country like Tunisia, where the authority of the state is beginning to recover after two decades of neglect at all levels of responsibility, so-called unannounced visits by a head of state and a unitary executive that is anything but slow to sack officials are necessary.

– Al Farouq or Caesar?

Only Wednesday Kais Saïed returned to his old neighborhood of Ariana. Just as laconically as Caesar, he could have repeated his famous “veni, vidi, vici”, which can be translated as “I came, I saw, I conquered”. It remains to be seen, however, whether Saïed will be able to defeat the phenomenon of informal street vendors, which are present in every town in the country and on almost every major thoroughfare in the capital and surrounding areas. A national campaign to remove them had been launched by his interior minister, and the head of the unitary executive had certainly come to take stock of the situation and check that Kamel Feki had done his job properly. Other interior ministers, and even other presidents before him, had tried.

On Wednesday, Kais Saïed tried to reason with the street vendors who had been evicted from Ariana’s main shopping street, promising to relocate them. He had visited some of the town’s shops to see for himself that shortages of bread, coffee, rice and sugar were persisting despite the measures taken by his trade minister.

With his feet firmly on the ground, he blamed others for the shortages, while reports of grain traders stranded in Rades still awaiting payment were not denied, and only one Russian grain trader was unloading in Sfax yesterday.

Some so-called conspirators in coffee, sugar and other commodities have been arrested and are still being held, and shortages continue.

We are not cutting off livelihoods, replied one of his ministers in an off-hand remark

On the same day, and still in Ariana, which the current director-general of Wataniya and the new director-general of Radio, who is busy trying to implement a new strategy by the heads of the former regimes, had forgotten to point out, the Head of State saw with his own eyes the state of rubbish in the streets and near schools. Had he walked a little further, he would have seen more.

If he had come unexpectedly and during the day, he would have seen the disastrous management of parking in the streets of all the neighborhoods of Ariana, the absence of all kinds of police officers, the more than dilapidated state of certain alleys, such as the one leading to the Ministry of Finance, and the lack of any preparation by the municipality of Ariana for the rainy season in relation to the cleaning of the sewers, which has apparently been entrusted to private individuals.

In Ariana, Kais Saïed has seen almost nothing of the shortcomings of the municipality and the governorate. It would take more than an unannounced visit. And there are dozens of Ariana in Tunisia, where laissez-faire is the law.

If he’d been to Sousse, he’d have seen what uncontrolled stalls mean in the disfigured streets of the old city’s souks. He would have been in Msaken and seen what its informal souk called “Tir-Fir” means, or in El Jem, where the National Guard brigades arrest citizens shopping in its illegal hypermarket without touching the merchants. And the examples are legion in a Tunisia where a minister, when his attention was drawn to this phenomenon and to this new kiosk, with water and electricity, installed under a bridge that had just been inaugurated in the so-called Jardins d’El Menzah and elsewhere in a country without pavements, replied with compassion that “we are not cutting off livelihoods.”


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