newritings

August 15, 2008

Learning from each other – The inteview: Azeddine Akesbi (TI – Morocco)

Filed under: interview,Mwalimu (Vol 1.2. - Second Quarter 2008) — newritings @ 6:00 pm

Hassen Lorgat posed these questions to Azeddine Akesbi, general secretary of Transparency Morocco, during July 2008

Hassen Lorgat: Tell us a bit about your chapter, how it is organised, etc?

Azeddine Akesbi: Transparency Morocco (TM) was constituted in 1996. The initiative was taken by a group of militants most of them with human right background. The new association faced difficulties and hostility in some quarters in particular the government who, for instance, would not give us permission to hold public meetings. These difficulties were eventually overcome through the support of the national anti corruption network, which is the backbone of TM, and as a result we organised our first public demonstrations and meetings.

Today, we still have some fundamental differences with the government but they had to grant us some sort of “recognition” in 2004. However, we always remain very vigilant, jealous if you like, of our independence or autonomy.

Hassen Lorgat: How do you sustain a movement with little resources?

Azeddine Akesbi: As I said, we are an autonomous organisation so the questions of funds is very important for organisations like ours. We do not receive public funding and rely on the contribution of our members, to do most of the work-activities, so membership is pre-eminent. Through our own efforts, etc. we have managed to employ two permanent staff.

Since 2000, we developed a new project which allowed us to employ additional staff for the project, but the staff are equally reliant on dedicated well qualified members who work on the projects and campaigns without pay. They are activists, and are responsible for the conception, the contact-relationship with partners and donors, and also implementation and follow up activities.

All our projects have to be validated, approved as you may say, by the board (the national council) and the executive committee who must ensure that it conforms with Transparency Morocco’s policy and strategies.

Hassen Lorgat: How does TM see the links between corruption and development, and the broader struggle for justice?

Azeddine Akesbi: For me and I think also for most members of TM, there is a strong link between corruption, human rights and development. To some extent the development of corruption – at a large scale – is a negation of citizen’s rights. When a person has to pay a bribe to get public services (health, police, justice…), his or her fundamental rights are being compromised, if not undermined.

The struggle for justice is first an effective recognition of human rights, which gives powers to citizens and democratic institutions. It also means a big NO to impunity; no large discretionary powers are acceptable.

It is also means that officials and persons in charge should be accountable for their acts and policies. The link between development, justice and corruption is obvious.

Often in our countries poverty and underdevelopment are mainly the consequences of the political system that ignores human rights, the control and democratic institutions in general. The corruption is used as a component of political regulation and it is in the hands of the elite. With such control over the state apparatus by a few, without adequate democratic checks and balances (accountability I spoke of), it is not surprising that large amounts of public funds disappear, privileges are given to minorities and persons close to the political power, the cronies. Thus you can see that a lack of human rights and the control of democratic public institutions by elites, allows widespread corruption to flourish. In some cases this form of elite model is said to be development but it encourages corruption.

Hassen Lorgat: How can we contribute in a broader struggle, without losing the niche that TI has developed? so how can we emphasise corruption and development without becoming one organisation like any other… Action Aid, Oxfam, etc…? so the link is delicate, isn’t it?

Azeddine Akesbi: TI did develop a broad orientation and the basis for an anti corruption movement when it was formed. But in my view, we still are not functioning as a movement: an effective one. Some progress has been made in the last years in the direction of reinforcing a human rights orientation in the fight against corruption. But a lot has to be done yet. We lack the power and the teeth in our fight against powerful corrupted systems. It will not be done only by projects and smooth, or smart partnerships. A peoples movement can go some way towards fighting these corrupted systems.

Hassen Lorgat: What do we have to do to implement the new TI strategy? by the way what does it mean to you?

Azeddine Akesbi: At the last Annual Members Meeting held in Bali during 2007, I had the impression that the TI strategy was clearer. Let me explain, it is now clearer for me: it is about us building stronger links with human rights organisations, and adopting a much more advocacy approach and activities. We are aligned to take up a greater defense of the victims of corruption, harnessing solidarity and developing chapters, whilst respecting their autonomy, their traditions, capacities, etc.

So, some positive signs are there, and were given, but still this strategy is not yet visible and has to be materialised on the ground yet. We must however, do much more on advocacy, our presence in the field (sur le terrain) and working and supporting the victims of corruption and here the activities of some chapters working on a legal advise centres’ approach is a good one (ALACs). Finally, there is some work to be done on building and strengthening the solidarity within the movement (chapter to chapter) and with other human rights organisations.

Hassen Lorgat: About Africa and corruption. What can be done? And what about the foreign banks where the looted funds are kept?

Azeddine Akesbi: In Africa, with the corrupt developmental models and the resultant widespread corruption, we have a lot of work to do. This link added to our colonial history and bad rulers still handicaps us. The urgent task for TI – the Africa and Middle East department (AFMENA) is to start working on implementing the strategy finalized in Nairobi last year (2007). The new advocacy directorate should also develop a programme focusing on the implementation of UNCAC and specifically the follow up of asset recovery in Africa. Fighting corruption in Africa is much more risky (some loose their jobs and earnings and others are persecuted). The TI-Secretariat, and the movement as a whole, has to develop and express more solidarity and support towards those in the front line of the fight against corruption, and abuse of human rights. We have a gigantic task in defeating corrupted organisations and systems.

Hassen Lorgat: What must our relationship be towards World Bank, IMF and the WTO if any?

Azeddine Akesbi: These are different organisations. To some extend they need to be treated differently. The World Bank did develop a policy document on corruption. The main problem for the WB is to fill the existing important gap between the discourse, its policies and its practices. In our relation with this institution we should be much more demanding and tough. As for the other organisations (IMF, WTO), the issue is often not yet on the agenda.

Hassen Lorgat: What is there to watch for during this second decade of TI’s growth? cooptation? fragmentation… what will build a national grassroots movement?

Azeddine Akesbi: Those in the movement who believe in the strategic link between human rights development and the fight against corruption should defend this orientation much more – this cause is making progress within the movement – and be vigilant not to loose credibility and the contact with those who are suffering from corruption and poverty on the daily basis: the powerless.

Hassen Lorgat: Finally you want to say anything about TI and consultancies and the new position of the board… on the subject

Azeddine Akesbi: It is highly risky area for the movement. TI and the movement need studies and well-informed and qualified members to drive us as we go forward. But the expertise should be ‘au service’ of the movement and under its control. This matter has to be discussed in-depth and all the precautions taken to avoid TI becoming a private consultancy company (un bureau d’étude).

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2 Comments »

  1. I am Moroccan/American man, educated in the USA and hold advanced degree in Civil Engineering and Construction Management. For the past 15 years,, my main role and duties of my job were: Project control, due deligence, auditing and risk mitigation.

    After reading through your articles. I was very inspired and wanted to do something to help my beloved country (Morocco) achieve some sort of check and balance system that can indirectly improves the lives of it citizens in years to come. I think the main problem in Morocco is the luck of cost control of major construction project. How can poor country’s project cost more than a project in the West, when labor pay is a fraction what is in the west. Please guide me on how can I be apart of this movement.

    Regards,

    Jay Rahali

    Comment by Jamal rahali — July 10, 2010 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

  2. I like to report a blatant case of corruption in Morocco where the judge, notaries and everyone in between got paid to look the other way. Last week a judgement was granted against my mom without the presence of her lawyer and the case that normally takes two week to settle got ruled in two weeks. Our attorney is outraged that this could happen in the 21 century. The corruption is clear and justice in Morocco is for sale, the juster minster and the ministry sets idle without getting involved and is clearly part of the problem. The documents attached will clearly show that the corruption and the evidence we submit to the judge to support our case of fraud get removed by invisible hands.

    I am very happy to discover your website and I am seeking your help. You can find for of the documents and contact details here: http://moroccaninjustice.wordpress.com/moroccan-justice-minister-mustapha-ramid/

    We have files a dozen of complaints with the local authorities including the justice minister, prime minister and the Moroccan Palais Royal but without a success and we are hoping that you can help us get this case under the spot lights to hold the culprits accountable.

    Comment by morocccoexposedmoroccoexposed — May 16, 2014 @ 10:36 pm | Reply


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