Minister of Agriculture Aziz Akhannouch has found himself in the crossfire over two contradictory statements, both issued by organizations under his leadership.
Rabat – Morocco’s Ministry of Agriculture has denied allocating financial aid for racehorses. New evidence could prove the opposite.
Since May 7, some Moroccan news outlets and social media users have denounced a statement from the Royal Society of Horse Encouragement (SOREC) thanking the Ministry of Agriculture for the stipends it granted racehorses.
The statement, whose authenticity is unclear, thanked the ministry for providing stipends of MAD 1,250 ($125) per racehorse. The sum, which is higher than the amount the Moroccan government has allocated for workers in the informal sector who lost income due to COVID-19, stirred controversy.
Workers who lost their jobs receive a monthly stipend ranging between MAD 800 ($80) and MAD 1,200 ($120), depending on the size of their household. Only families of more than four members are eligible for the maximum amount of MAD 1,200, which remains lower than that allocated for racehorses, according to SOREC’s statement.
After Moroccans denounced the move, the Ministry of Agriculture released a statement on May 10 explaining that it has indeed received funding requests from SOREC, but it did not grant the organization any aid.
However, SOREC’s website states that the organization is a limited company “under the tutorship” of the agriculture ministry, with the Moroccan state controlling 99.75% of its shares.
The same source shows that the company’s Administration Council chairman is the Minister of Agriculture, Aziz Akhannouch. Other members of the council include officials working at the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economy, alongside presidents of regional horserace companies.
The fact Moroccan billionaire Aziz Akhannouch is both a chairman at SOREC and the Minister of Agriculture reveals a contradiction in the ministry’s statement, since the two organizations are led by the same person.
“How can SOREC request funding and the Ministry of Agriculture deny the request if one person is behind the two decisions?” is a question that will remain unanswered, leaving Moroccans to develop their own theories.