One year after its return within the African Union (AU), the Kingdom of Morocco, like the other countries of the continent, marked the celebration on 10 August 2018, of the African Day of Decentralization and Local Development (JADDL).
The Government of Morocco, the Pan-African Organization of Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa), the Association of Regions of Morocco (ARM) and the Moroccan Association of Presidents of Municipal Councils (AMPCC) organized a conference on the central theme adopted by the AU for this day: “Fighting corruption at the local level: a sustainable way to transform Africa from its territories”. The meeting was held on Friday 10 August 2018 at the Headquarters of the Ministry of Culture and Communication of the Kingdom of Morocco.
The conference attracted the interest of several government officials, members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Morocco, representatives of international organizations, experts, researchers and academics. The meeting witnessed the opening addresses by: His Excellency Mr. Abdelahad Fassi Fihri, Minister of National Spatial Planning, City Planning, Housing and City Policy, Mr. Abdelouahhab El Jabri, Governor, Director of Training of the Administrative and Technical Executives, Representative of the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Mohamed Benyacoub, Director of Arts, Representative of the Minister of Culture, Mr. Mohamed Aouad, Vice-President of ARM, Mr. Mohamed Yassine Daoudi, Vice-President of AMPCC, Ms. Leila Rhiwi, Representative of the UN Women’s Multilateral Office for the Maghreb and Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa.
The various speakers welcomed the legal instruments that already exist in the field of the fight against corruption and the efforts deployed by Morocco for their implementation, particularly at the local level, notably through its policy of advanced regionalization. “The fight against corruption requires the operationalization of legal systems, the realization of tools for the promotion of participatory democracy and digitalization which is also an effective means through the dematerialization of procedures,” said Governor Abdelouahhab El Jabri. He also announced that Morocco would adopt its charter of administrative deconcentration by October 2018. According to the Minister of City Planning, Mr. Abdelahad Fassi Fihri, the fight also requires the strengthening of decentralized services. He urged local and regional governments to refocus on urban planning. The Vice-President of AMPCC, Mr. Yassine Daoudi expressed the wish for his country to sign and ratify the African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development, so as to be endowed with a specific legal instrument for continental local governance. This charter was adopted at the Ordinary Session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government, held from 26 to 27 June 2014 in Malabo (Equatorial Guinea).
To fight corruption at the local level, the gender approach must be taken into account because “women are in the majority of cases, victims of the negative acts of corruption. They are more affected by this evil and it reinforces inequalities between genders,” said Ms. Leila of UN Women. “The eradication of corruption is a process that involves integrating the gender perspective in the fight. There is a need to understand properly the link between gender and corruption and promote the adoption of participatory budgeting with a gender approach,” she insisted.
Contribution of UCLG Africa
Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa recalled that during this year 2018 designated by the African Union as the Year for the fight against corruption, it is important to take action so that “the people do not continue to have the impression that nothing is changing.”
“UCLG Africa has joined Morocco in this celebration for the exemplary nature of the country in terms of advanced regionalization. Nevertheless, I request your support, Honorable Ministers, for your country to sign and ratify the charter that will contribute to the improvement of local governance,” he pleaded.
As a contribution to the fight against corruption, UCLG Africa recommends to its members and the local and regional governments of the continent to:
- Ensure that the local governments adopt a charter of service delivery to the people and that this charter be known and posted in their administration, and disseminated in the media;
- Adopt one-stop shops for all administrative services to the citizens;
Adopt the participatory budget tool that allows citizen involvement in the management of the local government’s finances,
- Adopt local budgets sensitive to gender.
In partnership with Transparency International, UCLG Africa will name and shame the local and regional governments performing poorly in the field of transparency and integrity, during a pilot phase which is currently implemented in volunteer local governments in Uganda, Namibia and Kenya. This tool will be presented at the Africities 8 Summit from 20 to 24 November 2018 in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Moroccan local elected officials are also invited to promote the territorial coaching approach within South / South cooperation, a tool launched in 2009 by UCLG Africa with the Oriental Region of Morocco and which is already gaining momentum in Senegal, in the Kaolack Region of this country, since 2017.
The participants also debated the two sub-themes of this day, namely:
- Corruption and Conflicts of Interest in the management of local affairs: an impediment to the delivery of (i) basic services to the local people, (ii) social justice and (iii) peace;
- Good Local Governance and promotion of the role of the Civil Society and the Media: A guarantee of success for the fight against corruption in the territories.
In his intervention, Mr. Mouatadid Moulay Abdellatif of the Central Authority for the Prevention of Corruption (ICPC), noted that the concept of conflict of interest remains difficult to grasp. “It is often confused with incompatibility or multiple mandates. To manage properly conflicts of interest, one must always put the general interest first. The media must play a very important role in raising awareness. They must disseminate a zero tolerance policy against acts of corruption, mobilize public opinion to denounce and counter these practices, have a code of ethics, review the regulations on the status of journalists who are often characterized by this phenomenon during the fulfillment of their function, build up the capacities of the information professionals especially in terms of investigative journalism,” he explained. As recommendation, Mr. Abdellatif advocated for comprehensive and integrated approach where each stakeholder fulfills his role.
The European approach to fighting corruption at the local level was also shared. Mr. Jose Luis Herrero Ansola, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Morocco presented the 12 principles of good democratic governance. This tool promotes the values of transparency, accountability, sound management and accountability. “The Council of Europe has a monitoring mechanism to evaluate municipalities that respect their commitment. The evaluation is conducted in 3 stages: self-evaluation by the local authorities themselves (via a questionnaire), the evaluation of the public (citizens’ survey), satisfaction of the elected officials through interviews with them,” he explained.
A presentation was also made during the meeting on the principles of good governance under the decentralization laws of Morocco. The document was presented by Mr. Adil El Moudden, of the Department of Local Governments. Mr. Said Chakri of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) presented a paper on “Africa and Climate Justice”. He said corruption is an impediment to the fight against climate change because the gateway to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals is environmental, including SDG 16, which aims to reduce markedly corruption and the practice of bribery in all their forms (Target 16.5) and to set up effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels (Target 16.6). “40% of Africans live in an extreme poverty yet Africa is endowed with a huge human potential that will be 2 billion by 2050. In terms of vulnerability to climate change, no African country is immune yet Africa is the continent that pollutes the least,” he lamented.
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