Half-baked ideas

Over-hasty decisions, taken with neither due care nor proper evaluation, are another black mark in the Islamist governmentʹs copybook. One example is the Extra Hour Act, drafted just a few hours before Daylight Saving Time was scheduled to come into effect (it was already in force, synchronised with Greenwich Mean Time).

A further example has been the decision to re-instate compulsory military service. This issue neither featured in the partiesʹ manifestos, nor did it form part of the proposed government programme passed by parliamentarians.

Law no. 51.17, relating to education and culture, also needs to be added to the list. Parliament was unable to pass the law during emergency session. The bill included clauses that sought to change the educational system in place since well before independence from the French, from public to private. Fees would be levied on children of the well-to-do.

Alas, despite wanting to add this law to the statute books, the government seemed to have forgotten that wealthy Moroccans donʹt send their children to public schools in the first place. Moreover, the Makhzen was quick to oppose this decision and tried to stifle debate, resorting to language as an excuse. As a result opposition to the bill became more a question of identity rather than politics.

A legislative initiative of this kind, in a sector which is crucially important for Moroccans, would need to be preceded by a national dialogue involving all sections of society. The governmentʹs adoption of this framework law still poses a legal dilemma, however.

The bill presupposes the existence of two laws that should form the foundation of the education system, one relating to the status of the Amazigh language and a second on the National Council for Moroccan Languages and Culture. Both pieces of legislation do not however as yet exist, and thus the entire venture makes no sense.

It may be that some of the decisions taken by the previous government were more radical and influential, but at least they were accompanied by an ongoing dialogue with the Moroccan people, with the aim of ensuring the public was on board.

Former prime minister Abdelilah Benkirane was an excellent communicator; he used simple language that a large segment of ordinary Moroccans could understand and respond to. Indeed, language is central to the defining struggle between authoritarianism and the will of the people.

Each measure introduced against ordinary citizens is followed by a move against the other side (lobbies, influential people, those getting preferential treatment ...). In this way, a broad swathe of people shares the load, under the premise that society should contribute collectively towards the desired reform.

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