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A whole family (and their cat) in the Moroccan Parliament

An Israeli businessman told me about an exchange he had recently in Morocco that serves as an example of the type of old school, corrupt nepotism that holds the Kingdom back from truly advancing as a society.
This businessman visited Morocco last year with a former Israeli Knesset member in order to initiate some projects. As part of their visit, they met with Lahbib Bentaleb, a Moroccan politician who is a member of the Parliament, the President of the Agricultural Chamber in the Marrakech region, and the President of the Moroccan Agricultural Chambers Union. The delegation was hosted at Bentaleb’s house. In the middle of a conversation, Bentaleb boasted that not only does he hold these myriad leadership positions, but his daughter, Fatima Zahra Bentaleb, and his son, Othmane Bentaleb, are also members of the Parliament. His wife was also a member of the Parliament for 15 years, after which point she voluntarily decided not to run for re-election. Instead, she became the President of the Marrakech Region Council.
Lahbib Bentaleb proceeded to make a joke that, if he wanted his family cat to join the Moroccan Parliament, he could do it. He said he controls the elections in the Marrakech region. In a country of 40 million people, who are represented by 395 members of Parliament, it cannot be understated what an anomaly it is to have 4 people from the same family all serve as representatives. Bentaleb’s flippant remarks about his ability to get anyone elected that he chooses indicates that he has had an active role in promoting their political careers and getting them to their respective seats of power.
Bentaleb started in politics 25 years ago and has built, in that short amount of time, tremendous wealth. He also was the Director of Le Bon Lait Cooperative, one of the wealthiest cooperatives in Morocco before it went bankrupt on his watch, after which he was sued by thousands of workers. This is a court case that disappeared after one phone call from a very powerful official close to the King. We are still investigating this case and will provide more information about it in future articles.
Politicians like Bentaleb are an example of why there exists such significant mistrust between the youth of Morocco and its politicians. It is also one of the reasons that the February 20th Movement started in the country. This kind of corruption, committed by very high-level Moroccan officials, is beyond the jurisdiction of most law enforcement; instead, the Palace and the Ministry of the Interior would be tasked with investigating this kind of accusation of corruption.
Morocco may have made advancements compared to other countries in the region. However, examples of corruption like Bentaleb’s still hold the country back and scare foreign investors away, thus impacting the international regard and trust in the country’s true level of democracy.

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