Casablanca, Morocco Transparency Morocco held a round table on Thursday, April 14th 2016, addressing the report conducted by Arab Region Parliamentarians Against Corruption on policies and instruments to combat corruption in Morocco.
It should be noted that, for the time being, the full report is under embargo. An internal source from Transparency Morocco told us that Arab Region Parliamentarians Against Corruption will be responsible for its upcoming release. However, during the meeting, which took place at the NGO’s headquarters, the main points of the report were presented.
Corruption Stronger Than Institutions
In his speech, university professor Ahmed Moufid stressed the government's efforts to fight corruption at several levels – efforts which, alas, have not led to action on the ground.
"The official and unofficial figures of the national and international bodies and NGOs are unanimous: corruption is a major scourge," A. Moufid said at the meeting. For him, this is clearly a "lack of political willingness to implement the proper legal and technical tools."
In this regard, he recommends pro-actively protecting the rights guaranteed by the constitution, particularly the right of access to information, freedom of the press, and protection for whistleblowers. He also stresses the need for strengthening the role of parliament as an institution responsible for overseeing the executive branch and the need for boosting morale in public life by strengthening the accountability of elected representatives and public bodies.
The Opacity of Political Parties
With regard to politics, the main points of the report reveal the impenetrable ways in which political parties function and in which they finance the electoral campaigns of their candidates. Several anomalies are also highlighted.
We quote: -The declaration of assets prior to the election campaign is the subject of an unverified declaration by the national authorities (Regional Courts of Accounts, ICPC, etc.). This is partly due to the small number of human resources required to carry out these oversight operations. -The lack of campaign accounts and the timing of expenditures contribute to a lack of transparency concerning the use of funds. In this regard, Transparency Morocco's deputy secretary general, Abdallah Harsi, pleads for a lifting of the legal funding threshold per candidate, which is currently set at 350,000 dirhams.
Parliament Does Not Fulfill Its Responsibility to Oversight
Whether the legislature or the executive branch, the number of methods available for fighting corruption is restricted. According to Hassan Tariq, Member of the Parliament and of the Moroccan parliamentary group fighting against corruption, “there are several political obstacles to putting in place a real system of governance. The Parliament is not in a position to effictively evaluate the public policies led by the government .”
He adds, "During the monthly questioning sessions, debates on public policy are politically oriented and end up suppressing accountability." Meanwhile, another phenomenon has become a substitute for the Parliament. It is the exchange of opinions expressed by Moroccan Internet users on social networking sites. “The last government appointments were a response to mobilization on social media. Whether talking about the Club World Cup scandal or the chocolate affair, these two decisions were ultimately made in response to the mobilization expressed by moroccans on social media” notes Hassan Tariq.
Expansion of Executive Power Undermines Transparency
Among the examples of the impenetrability that characterize moroccan politics is the absence of a clear separation of allocated powers. Abdallah Harsi believes that the duality of the executive, embodied by the head of the government as president of the Council of the Government and the head of state, who chairs the Council of Ministers, creates a zone of ambiguity that does not allow clearly defining the responsibilities of the head of government.
"According to the Constitution, the only difference between the two Councils can be summarized in one word: strategic," explains Hari Tariq. No definition is given in the texts as to what is strategic and what is not. This uncertainty makes it possible to maintain the lack of transparency regarding the government’s responsibility towards the people.