By Taoufik Moktadir
By Taoufik Moktadir
Morocco World News
Philadelphia, August 2, 2012
After his interview with the news channel Al Jazeera, Abdelilaah Benkirane came under intense criticism for statements he made regarding his stance on the perennial problem of corruption. There are those who are clamoring for justice and who feel indignant that Mr. Benkirane has reneged on his promise to uphold the law and punish offenses committed by corrupt officials in the past; and there are those who feel betrayed by comments he made which they interpreted as an admission that he has no desire to fight corruption because he believes it to be a futile endeavor.
Let me digress a bit from the subject without being irrelevant. When the apartheid came to an end, South Africa under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, instituted the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in order to look into past crimes. The objective was not to exact revenge, but of to bring a sense of closure, if not healing, to a painful era in a nation’s history. Nelson Mandela was not perceived as a traitor who abandoned the very principles of justice and equality that he had championed during his years of struggle and on whose basis he was chosen to lead.
He was seen as having enough wisdom and foresight to realize that the greater good of his people lies not in justice but in forgiveness and reconciliation. His challenge was momentous. What he had to deal with was not bribery or the misappropriation of public funds, but gross human rights violations. In the U.S., after the civil war, a massive reconstruction project was launched to rebuild the ruined south, and the president of the confederate states Jefferson Davis was never brought to justice. In Germany and Japan, the mistakes of the First World War and the punitive treaty of Versailles were reversed at the close of WWII and the Marshal Project was set in motion. History, recent and not so recent, is replete with examples that show that retributive measures are counter-productive and detrimental to the overall well being of a nation.
Mr. Benkirane said that, although grave offenses will be revisited and dealt with, he would not support prosecuting past graft or corruption charges on a mass scale. This appears at first sight to be a perfect case of hypocrisy, however, if we resurrect this part of the past, it would be like opening Pandora’s Box. It would pit the nation against itself, paralyze the justice system, create public panic and would certainly cause massive capital flight, dealing a serious blow to the economy and reform in general. Furthermore, given the state of the judiciary, finding competent and impartial judges that could preside over endless cases would be very hard. Despite the critics, I believe that Benkirane has shown a good understanding of the problem and a depth of perspective by foregoing the short lived satisfaction of quenching the thirst for revenge, for a vision of a future nation stable, unified and at peace with itself.
As to the charge that Benkirane has no intentions to tackle corruption, I find the accusation totally groundless. I have watched the entire interview, and what I heard was Benkirane saying that despite our best efforts, eradicating corruption completely is an impossible mission. He was also heard referring to what he called “a culture of corruption,” and he repeatedly said that it had to stop. When I hear Benkirane talk, I feel that all the fears and uncertainty I had of an Islamist led government and the threat that it might pose to personal liberties in Morocco are absolutely unnecessary. Mr. Benkirane is an astute politician, and his deep understanding of the Moroccan society and the concept of the modern state was a welcome surprise to many skeptics. Let us judge this man on his merits and his ability to govern because his success is the success of us all. As for corruption, I am glad Benkirane followed the example of Mandela and not that of Maximilien Robespierre!
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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