Fez - Last week, the former longtime Mayor of Fez, Hamid Chabat, who suffered a bitter defeat during last September’s election, suddenly resigned from all his positions in the Fez city Council and the regional Council of Fez/Meknes.
Fez – Last week, the former longtime Mayor of Fez, Hamid Chabat, who suffered a bitter defeat during last September’s election, suddenly resigned from all his positions in the Fez city Council and the regional Council of Fez/Meknes.
Chabat’s resignation was unprecedented and unexpected. He resigned after the residents of Fez continuously called for the Supreme Council of Accounts, headed by Driss Jettou, to review the books of the City of Fez during Chabat’s time as Mayor. While Chabat was Mayor, the city experienced corruption, embezzlement, and patronage. Many interpret Chabat’s sudden resignation as an attempt to escape accountability for his suspicious political tenure as Mayor of Fez.
Residents of Fez overwhelmingly agree that the former Mayor destroyed its historical monuments and its national value as Morocco’s academic, spiritual and touristic capital. There are also allegations of corruption, misconduct, pay-to-play politics, and embezzlement of public funds during Chabat’s time at the helm of the city from 2003 – 2015.
When you mention Chabat in Fez and discuss his political tenure as a Mayor, you do not find anyone who praises him unless they belong to his political party or directly benefited from his patronage. The people of Fez frequently voice their concerns about the privatization of public properties and services, which solely benefited private lobbies tied to Chabat. These privatization projects deprived residents of accessible services and open public spaces.
For example, the green spaces of Champs de Course and Oued Fez, The Independent Agency of Urban Transit of Fez, garbage and waste management, and the agricultural cooperatives in Ain Chkef and on the Road to Meknes were all sold to private companies. Other green areas in the city were replaced with cement through projects awarded to contractors connected to Chabat. During Chabat’s time as Mayor, the old City of Fez was neglected and Chabat failed to promote Fez’s historical, cultural and humanitarian landmarks. After 12 years as Mayor, Chabat left the city with a debt amounted to 150 billion Centimes.
Despite the lack of action from the Supreme Council of Accounts and the silence of the country’s competent authorities, the residents of Fez are asking, who will hold the former Mayor Chabat accountable? Some accuse Chabat of turning Fez into the old times of “Siba” or lawlessness that characterized ancient Morocco. The lists of accusations are long and vary from squandering public funds, to political corruption and the suspicious sudden enrichment of Chabat while in office.
All this leaves the people of Fez wondering, who protects Chabat? Why did the councils headed by the former Prime Minister fail to investigate these allegations and accusations about pay-to-play politics, embezzlement of public funds, and money laundering? Will all these allegations be overlooked due to Chabat’s “Judicial Immunity” as a reward for his service to another party’s political agenda? Will Mr. Jettou prove he takes his position seriously and hold corrupt politicians accountable? Or has Chabat been granted “Full Amnesty” for everything he committed against the City of Fez and its residents in exchange for a quiet retreat from political life?
Despite Chabat’s resignation, all of these questions remain pending for the residents of Fez until proven otherwise. The current Mayor, Idriss Azami, has confirmed many of the people’s suspicions. The government’s representatives in Fez are believed to have intelligence on Chabat’s corruption; and the Supreme Council of Accounts may know about Chabat’s wrongdoing.
Since authorities called for the investigation of retired police and DST officers for bribery, corruption, and ties to drug dealers; they must do the same for Chabat now. The authorities must investigate and audit the accounts of the City of Fez during Chabat’s tenure and inform the public about the results of the investigation to either charge or acquit him of any wrongdoing.
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