COVID-19 laid bare Morocco’s problems

COVID-19 laid bare Morocco’s problems

Saadeddine Othmani
Saadeddine Othmani, head of the Moroccan government.

The current situation in Morocco has brought people and the government face to face. Although the Ministry of Health has called on citizens to follow the appropriate measures to avoid COVID-19, the majority of Moroccans are turning a blind eye to the instructions. Worse than this, some do not even believe the virus exists in the first place. The question that begs itself here is why do Moroccans not trust the official institutions, why do they not adhere to the quarantine measures?

Governments around the world have found it difficult to impose quarantine and health emergency measures. It is hard obviously to stay at home and adapt your life to a new routine; however, that is, by all means, better than being infected with the virus.  Some believe that it is against personal freedom to impose such measures and make it compulsory to wear a face mask in public places. Others have gone further in theorizing and claiming that the virus is just a global conspiracy to create a new world order and serve big and multinational cooperations’ interests. Based on my own observation, citizens who respect the necessary precautions and keep updated regarding the latest news about the pandemic are generally educated and responsible. Does this problematic have anything to do with awareness? The answer is probably yes.

The issue of communication is also important here. Although state officials have tried to sensitize people, most precautions and advice have fallen on deaf ears. The reason might be that people, unfortunately, lack the maturity and awareness to understand the situation and act accordingly. It could also be a question of trust in the government and its decisions. Another issue witnessed among many is a wrong understanding of Islam’s principle of destiny and fate. Many people continue to live normally and ignore the danger that surrounds them on the pretext that “if it is destined to be, we cannot do anything about it”. This latter issue is very serious to deal with as it takes years of enlightenment to change people’s mentality.

This crisis has unveiled many issues that need to be addressed. First, governments must invest more in educating people. Second, new laws must be introduced to protect workers in the private sector in such crises. Third, a process of constructing trust between the government and citizens must begin immediately.