Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Morocco's Boycott - Gains Support in Fez

The boycott campaign, launched last week, has been growing in its influence among Moroccan people, officials, and politicians concerned about the high prices of Sidi Ali (bottled water), Afriquia (gasoline) and Centrale Laitière (dairy products)

Morocco World News reports that Moroccan activist, professor, and head of the Unified Socialist Party (PSU) Nabila Mounib, has broken her silence on the media campaign aimed at spreading awareness among Moroccans about the high cost of certain products in the country. According to Mounib, people behind the campaign are “young people, who have a great political conscience and know what is happening in the country” and are looking forward to shifting the monopoly exercised by some companies.

Nabila Mounib

Mounib’s message followed statements by public officials, including Nabil Benabdellah, former Minister of Housing and Urban Policy and Secretary General of the Party of Progress and Socialism; and Nizar Baraka, President of the Social Economic and Environmental Council, former Minister of Economy and Finance, and head of the Istiqlal Party.

Both officials voiced their support for the campaign, describing it as a call for change.

Benabdellah also linked the campaign with the Jerada, Al Hoceima, and Zagora protests, which erupted in Morocco in 2016, 2017, and 2018, calling on the government to meet social demands of citizens.

Baraka has also commented on the campaign, calling on the government to listen to the message conveyed by the boycott, rather than looking for the people behind the campaign.

“The important thing is not to know who is behind the campaign, but rather to understand the message conveyed.”

Although the effected brands have not responded officially, it is reported by Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Al Yaoum, that Afriquia gas, owned by Moroccan Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (and Forbes’s richest man in Morocco) Aziz Akhannouch, has lost MAD 15 million since the launch of the boycott on April 21.

According to the newspaper, the Afriquia gas stations, typically found alongside Marjane and Acima supermarkets across the country, lost between 25 and 45 percent of its daily revenue. In Nador, Afriquia gas station lost 47 percent of revenue, while in Casablanca, the company lost 39 percent.

On a much smaller scale it is interesting to note that grass roots support is growing. Small local shops are no longer stocking Centrale products and most people in the Fez Medina are aware of and support the boycott. According to Fatima Zahra, (26), the problem is an unjustified hike in prices just before Ramadan. "Nobody I know will buy from these big companies and hopefully they will listen to the people.

Morocco World News spoke to shoppers, shopkeepers, and grocery store workers alike to hear their thoughts on ongoing boycott.

Pointing to a row of Sidi Ali bottles, one Rabat shopkeeper stated: “This is all I have left of Sidi Ali bottles and they will remain here untouched…Everyone is boycotting and so am I,” he added. “We are all with the people.”

Another shopkeeper, was eager to discuss the subject:

“I’m boycotting the three of them [Sidi Ali, Centrale Laitière, Afriquia]. As you can see, there is not a bottle of Sidi Ali or Centrale Laitère in here…Yes, I have a car and I stopped frequenting Afriquia gas stations,” he said. “Now I can assure you that in just a few weeks time, 90 percent of Moroccans will have started to do the same.”

One woman walking with bags of groceries told MWN, “It’s because we remained silent for so long–they took advantage of us.”

Many guesthouse owners are offering alternative milk and bottled water to their guests and explaining the reason.


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