Morocco: Time For Accountability Has Arrived – OpEd


In a statement issued Tuesday by the Moroccan Royal Cabinet, King Mohammed VI has sacked four government officials following alleged delays in development programs to benefit the northern city Al Hoceima . The auditors’ report found that “several sectors of government and public institutions” haven’t respected their commitments in accomplishing development projects worth nearly $700 million launched in 2015 under the previous government presided by PJD Secretary General Abdeillah Benkirane.

The First president of the Court of Auditors, in the presence of the Head of government, and the ministers of the Interior, and of the Economy and Finance, presented to the King a report containing the results and conclusions of the Court on the program “Al Hoceima: Manarat Al Moutawassit”.

Here is the statement:

“The Court of Auditors’ report underlined that the investigation it conducted confirmed the existence of several dysfunctions recorded under the previous government.

The report also revealed that several ministerial sectors and public institutions did not honor their commitments in the implementation of the projects and that the explanations they provided do not justify the delay in implementing this development program. Moreover, the report showed that there were no malpractices or misappropriations.

Regarding governance, and by way of illustration, the central monitoring commission, made up of the relevant government officials, only met in February 2017, that is 16 months after the signing of the agreement, while the local monitoring commission, chaired by the then governor of the province, showed its inability to mobilize and encourage the various partners, and to generate the momentum needed to launch the projects on a solid foundation.

The report added that in the face of failure to meet commitments made and obvious delays in project initiation, some relevant sectors have transferred some of their financial contributions to the development agency of the Northern provinces as a way of shirking their responsibilities.

And given the importance of this development program, and the multiplication of stakeholders, it was necessary that the government and the ministerial monitoring commission assume the mission of direct supervision, on the initiative of the Interior ministry, especially during its start-up phase.

As regards the implementation of the programmed projects, it was noted a great delay in launching the projects, and even the vast majority of these projects had not even been launched, with the absence of concrete initiatives by certain stakeholders in charge of their effective launch.

– By virtue of the constitutional prerogatives of HM the King as guarantor of the rights of the citizens and protector of their interests;

– In application of the provisions of article 1 of the Constitution, notably in its paragraph 2, relating to the correlation between liability and accountability;

– Based on the various reports submitted to the High appreciation of the Sovereign by the general Inspectorate of territorial administration, the general Inspectorate of finance and the Court of Auditors and after determining responsibilities, in a clear and precise manner, taking into account the degree of negligence in the exercise of responsibility, HM the King decided a set of measures and sanctions against several ministers and senior officials.

In this regard, and in accordance with the provisions of article 47 of the Constitution, notably in paragraph 3, and after consultation with the Head of government, HM the King has decided to dismiss several ministerial officials. These are:

– Mohamed Hassad, minister of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, in his capacity as minister of the Interior in the previous government;

– Mohamed Nabil Benabdellah, minister of National Planning, Urban Planning, Housing and Urban Policy, in his capacity as minister of Housing and City Policy in the previous government;

– El Houcine Louardi, minister of Health, in his capacity as minister of Health in the previous government;

– Larbi Bencheikh, secretary of state to the minister of National Education, Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research, in charge of vocational training, in his capacity as former director general of the Office for Vocational Training and Promotion of Work;

His Majesty also decided to dismiss Ali Fassi Fihri, director general of the National Office of Electricity and Drinking Water.

As for the other officials in the previous government who are also concerned by these dysfunctions, HM the King has decided to notify them of his dissatisfaction, for not having lived up to the trust placed in them by the Sovereign and for not having assumed their responsibilities, affirming that no official duty will be entrusted to them in the future. These are:

Rachid Belmokhtar Benabdellah, in his capacity as former minister of National Education and Vocational Training;

Lahcen Haddad, in his capacity as former minister of Tourism;

Lahcen Sekkouri, in his capacity as former minister of Youth and Sports;

Mohamed Amine Sbihi, in his capacity as former minister of Culture;

Hakima El Haiti, former secretary of state to the minister of Energy, Mining, Water and the Environment, in charge of the Environment;

Subsequently, HM the King instructed the Head of the government to submit proposals for appointing new officials to the vacant posts.

With regard to the rest of the administrative officials mentioned by the reports that pointed out deficiencies and dysfunctions committed the exercise of their duties, and who numbered 14, HM the King gave His High Instructions to the Head of government with a view to taking the necessary measures against them, and to submit a report thereon to His Majesty.

On the other hand, the results and conclusions of the report of the Court of Auditors have shown that, following the High Instructions of HM the King at the Council of Ministers, held on June 25, 2017, a new momentum has been recorded at the level of the mobilization of the various stakeholders, as well as a notable progress has been made in the implementation of the projects.

In this regard, HM the King, while praising the efforts made by the current government to speed up the implementation of the programmed projects, gave His High Orientations to learn from the difficulties experienced by the development program Manarat Al Moutawassit in order to avoid the dysfunctions and obstacles that could hinder the implementation of development projects in the different regions of the Kingdom.

HM the King has also reiterated His High Instructions in order to take all organizational and regulatory measures aimed at improving administrative and territorial governance and interact positively with the legitimate demands of citizens, in strict compliance with the law and the Rule of law.

It is common knowledge that HM the King, since His accession to the Throne, personally monitors the projects initiated by the Sovereign, adopting a specific approach based on efficiency, effectiveness and swift implementation, and in strict compliance with commitments.

It should be noted that these royal decisions are part of a new policy that is not limited to the Al Hoceima region, but encompasses all regions of Morocco, and concerns every person in charge at all levels, pursuant to the principle of correlation between responsibility and accountability, encouragement of constructive initiatives and promotion of the values of sincere patriotism and committed citizenship to serve the general interest.

In this context, HM the King gave His High Instructions to the minister of the Interior in order to conduct the necessary investigations at the national level concerning the persons in charge of the ministry of the Interior to the Territorial Administration, all ranks.

HM the King also gave His High Orientations to the First president of the Court of Auditors for the review and assessment of the action of the regional investment councils.”

It is generally known that in a democracy, the principle of accountability holds that government officials — whether elected or appointed by those who have been elected — are responsible before their constituents and all citizens with utterly no exception, for their decisions and actions. For officials to be held accountable, the principle of full transparency requires that the decisions and actions of those in government are open to public scrutiny and the public has a right to access government information. These are the core principles of democratic governance that will deny any to become arbitrary and self-serving. Without accountability and transparency, democracy is impossible.

In his last speech on Throne Day, King Mohammed VI stated that “It is high time this principle were implemented in full. Just as the law applies equally to all citizens, it must be applied, first and foremost, to all officials, without distinction or discrimination, and in all of the Kingdom’s regions,” King Mohammed VI stated in a firm tone, announcing “This is the dawn of a new era in which there is no difference between officials and citizens as far as civic rights and obligations are concerned; nor is there room for shirking responsibility or avoiding sanctions”.

“Morocco must come first: before political parties, before elections and before senior positions,” the Monarch insisted.

That royal speech was frank and strong -worded lambasting the Moroccan service civil for its poor governance and weak performance. It is no secret that the King is leading an administrative revolution and the responsibility of political parties in government will make Morocco stronger in facing any development. An administrative revolution that will prioterize public and national interest against personal or politicized ones. Only accountability and transparency will lead Morocco towards democratic governance.

A new lesson learned for current and future officials in Morocco. Time for accountability has arrived and impunity has vanished for ever.

Said Temsamani

Said Temsamani is a Moroccan political observer and consultant, who follows events in his country and across North Africa. He is a member of Washington Press Club.

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