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A lesson in governance

Article written by Olivier Consolo, host of the workshop at the General Assembly of REPAOC

Selected extracts
On behalf of IFP I recently attended the General Assembly of REPAOC which took place in Senegal on 21 and 22 December 2017, just after the strategic planning workshop. Almost all members were present, the majority represented by their chairs or vice-chairs of national platforms in the presence of executive directors, the majority of whom were participants as well.

I left with the impression of having learnt one of the best lessons in governance of my career. The agenda allowed for a clever balance between questions related to the statutes, questions of accountability (especially regarding operational aspects) and questions relating more to strategy and orientation. This General Assembly was also the occasion of major elections to the Board of Directors.

I believe that the other regional networks which are associate members of the International Forum of National Platforms (IFP) could benefit from this experience of this region of Africa where the values of solidarity between associations and actors of civil society take their direction from this.

I particularly admired the style and hosting of the work sessions by the outgoing Chair of REPAOC, Dionisio Pereira, President of Platong in Cape Verde (voted person of the year in his country by a human rights commission): it was a subtle mixture of formality, welcome, political sensibility and leadership. The voting session was also hosted by the experienced and charismatic Amacodou Diouf, Chair of CONGAD, the Senegalese platform. In my view this session showed, in particular, the political maturity of the network and its capacity to focus on inclusivity as a priority (as opposed to competition), respect for procedures but with good will, and above all the search for consensus and subtle balancing of interests.

Throughout the GA, the frankness which characterised debates between participants quite astounded me. This freedom – rare in numerous organisations which I know – is, I believe, the mark of great mutual respect between the members of REPAOC to the benefit of the objectives and issues which transcend egos and personal positions. Throughout debates, everyone had the opportunity to publicly reaffirm their commitment to the long-term creation of a network for exchange and mutual support at regional level.

Discussions filled with emotion looked at the political situation affecting various countries in the sub-region and the threats facing a great many countries in terms of democracy and the respective leaders of organisations, in particular. Therefore, I found that REPAOC, throughout its existence, has developed best practices for assignments and other initiatives of solidarity to support one or another of its members when a situation becomes really untenable. An initiative was resolved to support the platform of Guinea Bissau in particular.

I believe that the other regional networks which are associate members of the International Forum of National Platforms (IFP) could benefit from this experience of this region of Africa where the values of solidarity between associations and actors of civil society take their direction from this.

Consequently, my thanks go out to the members of REPAOC and its coordinator Guy Tete Benissan to have allowed me (in the name of IFP and accompanied by a colleague, Robert Mabala, Coordinator of REPONGAC), to participate in this special moment of internal governance during which I learnt many things and above all met wonderful people who are committed and full of energy.