The appointed members are set to receive a monthly gross salary of MAD 62,618 ($6,779), in addition to meeting and travel allowances.
Rabat – The Speakers of Morocco’s House of Representatives and House of Councillors, Habib El Malki and Hakim Benchamach, are facing accusations of nepotism after unveiling the list of the National Authority for Electricity Regulation’s (ANRE) members.
The list, revealed in Morocco’s Official Bulletin on Monday, August 10, included six members handpicked by El Malki and Benchamach. Several observers, including political parties, believe the two speakers favored their “friends” and did not take merit into consideration.
To constitute ANRE’s council, the law allows the Moroccan Parliament’s speakers to select three members each. The remaining three members of Morocco’s electricity regulation board are appointed by royal decree, while its president, Abdellatif Bardach, was appointed by King Mohammed VI in August 2018.
Habib El Malki, a member of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), selected Mustapha Ajjab, Ahmed El Mehdi Mezouari, and Srhir Baali. All three members have the same political affiliation as El Malki.
Meanwhile, Hakim Benchamach, the former secretary general of the Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM), picked Ahmed Touhami, Mohammed Baddir, and Khalid Hennioui. Touhami and Baddir are both members of PAM and Hennioui is known to have close ties with Benchamach.
Outrage in the political sphere
The appointments sparked outrage in Morocco’s political sphere because the speakers decided on the members without consulting with other parties.
The Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS) qualified the appointments as a “serious scandal” and called for royal arbitration in the case.
In a press release issued on August 13, PPS accused the two speakers of following a “logic of clientelism and loot sharing.” The opposition political party said the appointments to the electricity regulation council “smear” the values of Morocco.
“It is unimaginable and unacceptable that such behavior emanates from representatives of two large political parties,” the press release concluded.
In an interview with newspaper Akhbar al-Yawm, the current secretary general of PAM, Abdellatif Ouahbi, condemned the member selection process.
An ‘attack’ on democracy
The appointments “do not reflect the legal framework that gave the speakers the right to appoint members based on their institutional positions and not partisan affiliations,” Ouahbi said.
“The speakers’ behavior harms democracy,” he added, before calling for a royal intervention regarding the appointments.
Meanwhile, the president of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) group at the House of Representatives, Mustapha Ibrahimi, told Akhbar al-Yawm that the appointments to the electricity regulation board created “significant discontent” within the lower chamber of Morocco’s Parliament.
“It is not the first time the Speaker of the House of Representatives appoints members in an institution without consulting with parliamentary groups,” Ibrahimi lamented, citing previous appointments in the High Authority of Audiovisual Communication (HACA).
“While El Malki legally has the right to make such appointments, he had to take into consideration the various parties … because he presides over everyone and not only his party,” the PJD member concluded.
All the commentators have agreed that the members appointed by El Malki and Benchamach are “inadequate”. Lacking experience in the field of energy and electricity, they “do not merit” to be on ANRE’s council.
Created in 2016, ANRE is set to hold its first meeting in September 2020 after the constitution of its council. The regulation institution’s mission is to monitor Morocco’s free electricity market. Moreover, it will set the tariffs for the use of national electricity networks.
According to the constitution decree of ANRE’s council, members will receive a monthly gross salary of MAD 62,618 ($6,779). The members will also receive MAD 5,000 ($541) for every meeting attended, with a limit of four meetings per month. Meanwhile, travel allowances reach MAD 700 ($76) daily for trips inside Morocco and MAD 2,000 ($217) daily for travels abroad.
As Morocco’s 2021 national election draws near, it remains to be seen how the recent appointments will affect the country’s political scene.