Rachid Taoussi is the new coach of the Moroccan football team. I was shocked by the news simply because I naïvely thought , like most Moroccans, that Badou Ezzaki would surely be the successor of Eric Gerets, the coach whose salary was and still is among the state’s top secrets.
One of the reasons why Badou Ezzaki’s candidacy was ignored is because he is wellknown for not allowing anyone to meddle in affairs related to his job as a football coach. For instance, when he coached the lions of Atlas for four years (2002-2006), Badou Ezzaki turned down many Moroccan senior officials’ requests to accept certain players in the Moroccan football team.
However, the most important reason why Badou Ezzaki was not selected is because he is the coach that Moroccans recommend for this job. They have so far created many Facebook pages in support of this popular demand, due partly to the positive results he achieved with the Lions of Atlas in Tunisia, the country where the African Cup of Nations was organized in 2004.
This is not the only Moroccan demand that the ruling establishment has refused to meet. For the Moroccan regime, responding favorably to popular demands is a sign of weakness, not strength. Think, for instance, of the regime’s narrative regarding the reforms it announced three weeks after Moroccans hit the streets in protest against corruption, unemployment, and poverty.
When the regime decided to undertake various political changes, including constitutional reform, our, but out of choice. The regime was about to make those political reforms, and the fact that they were unveiled shortly after the outbreak of the Moroccan Spring was mere coincidence.
In democratic regimes, meeting people’s needs and demands means, among other things, that social and political reforms aren’t always top down. They are sometimes the other way around. There are times when the people know better than the government what works and what doesn’t for them.
However, in autocratic regimes, such as that of Morocco, reforms are always top down. It’s only the ruling elite that has the right to make reforms, and all the voices asking for change must be silenced or ignored. Autocratic regimes believe that the people are not mature enough yet to propose workable reforms and to know what serves their interests best.
Before escaping to Saudi Arabia, Zine Abbidine Ben Ali delivered a speech to the Tunisian people saying he had understood them. He went on to say that he would meet all their demands, including an end to corruption. The Tunisians rejected his promises of reforms and decided to go on protesting until the fall of the regime. There is no question that one of the things Ben Ali understood was the fact that he never had listened to the Tunisians’ calls for reforms, but that it was too late.
There are many reasons why the Ben Ali regime disregarded the demands of pro-reform activists before the outbreak of the Arab Spring. One is that it wrongly believed that those activists were only a minority in Tunisia and represented only themselves, but not a cross section of the Tunisian people. Regrettably, it is for this reason that many regimes in the Arab world are still ignoring pro-change voices. The Moroccan ruling establishment is only another example.