It has been less than 48 hours since Mohamed Morsi was announced as the winner in Egypt’s first presidential race since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak 18 months ago, and already mechanisms are in place to measure his performance. A new site called MorsiMeter (the site is in Arabic) has broken down a list of Morsi’s ambitious campaign commitments and plans to track his progress in achieving them. Categories include Sanitation, Security, Bread, Fuel, and Traffic. When and if Morsi completes one of his self-assigned tasks, the site will mark the commitment as fulfilled. A tracking form in the header will show the percentage of Morsi’s completed commitments alongside a countdown of his first 100 days.
As election victory excitement gives way to the raw practicalities of governance, the pressure is on for Morsi to make a tangible difference. Projects like MorsiMeter are designed to hold him accountable. While there is huge value in putting a spotlight on campaign commitments, and in citizen initiaties for government accountability, there is a rub: it will only work if citizens stay vigilant and someone maintains the initiative.
MorsiMeter requires some degree of crowdsourcing, and crowdsourcing requires significant staff time if it is to work. MorsiMeter’s creators, Zabatek, don’t have a great track record in this regard: I’ve been disappointed about the abandoned state of its citizen corruption reporting portal since I first noticed it about a year ago. The comparative ease of installing a Ushahidi instance versus geting people to report on corruption is evidenced by the lack of reports on Zabatek’s portal. It’s one of many examples of how hard it actually engage the crowd in important monitoring work and, unfortunately, I’d guess that MorsiMeter will be another.
How could this be avoided? If someone supports Zabatek to hire a handful of full time staffers devoted to making such an initiative work. A project like this needs people who are getting paid to work all day at monitoring governance, reporting on it and making sure people are seeing what they are doing. When I shared a link to the MorsiMeter on Twitter, someone immediately reminded me that “Morsi is still a puppet,” and he was right – but the only way he’ll be any less right is if significant man hours go into making MorsiMeter work.