Is President Saied of Tunisia attempting to asset strip his own country before a meltdown of private and state owned companies inevitably gets underway?
The announcement by Tunisia’s minister of social affairs that a company has been established to transport phosphates in the country has sparked accusations that supporters of President Kais Saied are trying to control the phosphate industry, Al-Quds Al-Arabi has reported. Malek Zahi made the announcement on Friday.
A senior official of the Azimoun movement described this as “looting” the state. “The minister talks about a huge private company that will radically solve the problem of transporting phosphates,” said Mahdi Abdeljawad. “Now we can understand the demonisation campaign that the phosphate transport workers were subjected to, especially the former MP Lutfi Ali.” He claimed that this is part of the move to transfer ownership and wealth to those in power.
According to Workers Party activist Fathi Yaqoubi, Saied has transformed state institutions into private companies and has now started to convert the state’s economic institutions into private companies. “This is what is happening with the phosphate company, and the same will happen to the electricity and water companies as well as Tunisair.”
The people, he added, also expect municipalities to become private companies, and will not be surprised if the president establishes other companies such as civil society unions and the morality police. “Oil, milk and coffee will be sold in private stores that only serve the president’s supporters,” claimed Yaqoubi. “Those who still expect that a presidential election will take place in 2024 are mistaken.”
The spokesman of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), Sami Al-Tahri, said that the Tunisian National Railway Company (SNCFT) should be given the investment to repair its rolling stock and infrastructure because it is a public institution and has transported phosphates for decades. “Phosphates carried by trucks instead of the state railway system will pollute towns and villages very badly,” he added.
Private companies promoted by President Kais Saied have sparked widespread controversy in Tunisia. While the president and his supporters assert that they are a promising solution to wealth creation and the revival of the economy, the opposition believes that the model will be no better than the “mutual aid societies” that failed during the rule of late President Habib Bourguiba.