SPEECH BY H.E. AMBASSADOR GILBERTO DA PIEDADE VERISSIMO, PRESIDENT OF THE ECCAS COMMISSION, ON THE OCCASION OF THE EXCHANGE OF VOWS WITH THE STAFF

January 18, 2021

Libreville, January 15, 2021

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Madam Vice-President of the Commission

Ladies and Gentlemen, Commissioners

Madam and Gentlemen Councilors

Ladies and Gentlemen Directors

Ladies and Gentlemen in your ranks and qualities

Dear colleagues and collaborators

 

A year has ended and a new one succeeds it. We are thus moving from the year 2020 to the year 2021, which has only opened for fifteen (15) days. And it has become a tradition to exchange greetings in the first month of each New Year in institutions and organizations.

 

It is this ritual that we follow today with the organization of this very first greeting ceremony in the time of the Commission and, according to the oldest, the very first at ECCAS. Allow me therefore to salute this initiative which, far from cutting us off from our environment and its realities, places us in it and, on the contrary, deeply engages us.

 

How to register and be rooted in an environment without letting yourself be inhabited by its joys, fears and hopes? But how to take their full measure without contemplating them in retrospect and prospectively exploring the paths of our hopes?

 

The exchange of vows ceremonies force us into this exercise, the usefulness of which for an organization like ours is beyond doubt. An organization, whose ambition is to serve integration and the community that emerges from it, needs to look behind in order to better build the future, the path of which is drawn with our present. In an integration project, looking back is always the best way to dream of another future from our present.

 

Ladies and gentlemen

Dear colleagues and collaborators

 

We have a little over a hundred days of joint marching on our counter. In addition to the strong significance of the Covid19 pandemic, which has profoundly disrupted the work habits with which we had become familiar and has undoubtedly not allowed us to release all our energies and reveal all of our potential, these hundred days were marked by collective work that made possible

 

  • The successful organization of our extramural planning retreat which led to the adoption, in a spirit of collegiality, of both a five-year strategic plan 2021-2025 and a priority action plan for year 2021;

 

  • The organization and realization of two (2) sessions of the Conference of Heads of State and Government where the Commission helped the Community to build the chosen path of common compromise, and non-indifference. This is what the attitude towards the CAR manifested in the two related declarations represents and the military support that the region is currently organizing to help this member state;

 

  • The continuation of current programs and projects;

 

  • The organization and implementation of a major international electoral observation mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) and technical support to the CAR authorities;

 

  • The organization and implementation of the first stage of an intramural retreat to launch the work of developing a resource mobilization strategy, which should lead us to the definition of concepts specific to ECCAS for the important activity represented by the Mobilization of Resources for the functioning of our Organization and the development of the Central African region.

 

Such successes should make us aware of the importance of working together with a great concern for performance to achieve a vision of added value for our region, its States and its peoples.

 

This experience allows us to learn a lesson: it is possible to go further and even move mountains together. Working and succeeding together is the surest way to achieve great and beautiful things in the service of Community and integration.

 

Sustainable things are more often the result of collective struggles or battles than of individuals. It is therefore together, inhabited by an obsession with performance and united behind a vision that we must enter into the year 2021.

 

I strongly urge you to do so in the interest of the success of our dual ambition to achieve regional integration and the building of a dynamic Community. But we will only be able to meet this challenge of working together, both obsessed with performance and the unity behind a mobilizing vision, if we are able to overcome four temptations which have become some of the main weaknesses in ECCAS. These temptations and weaknesses are called individualism, widespread withholding of information, nationalism and lack of humility.

 

Ladies and gentlemen

Dear colleagues and collaborators

 

The individualism I am referring to here so often blinds us to the point of closing in on ourselves and making us live in the illusion of each one being an ECCAS, not to say ECCAS. The same blindness leads us to transform what belongs to all in law into a private and exclusive good. This attitude is the one behind the withholding of information of which we are guilty on a daily basis in our professional environment. The blindness I echoed even leads us to refuse to see the world as it is, that is, with the cultural diversity and pluralism that characterizes it.

 

This refusal to accept cultural diversity and pluralism very quickly becomes an exacerbated attachment to one’s own nation, and therefore a narrow nationalism. If nationalism already hides a lack of humility since it makes us say that there is nothing of value apart from what comes from my own nation, it is still based on a lack of individual humility. In our professional environment, this individual lack of humility translates into the temptation to believe that one is the sole holder of knowledge and science.

 

This pretension leads us to doubt the capacities of others, to see them in contempt. It is this claim that many did not support in our States and led them to impose Article 114 of the revised treaty on us, a bit as if to say that we were not indispensable.

 

It is therefore not only in the interest of the Community or of the cause of integration, but also of our own Organization that it is important that we change our outlook and definitively turn our backs on the weaknesses mentioned in order to be born or reborn in the man whose profile is appropriate to work in an organization like ours and to the cause of regional integration.

 

 A call for this change of outlook and behavior is made necessary by the challenges of building the Community and regional integration. There is no doubt here that it is first and foremost through men and with men that a true Community and regional integration will be built in Central Africa. Human capital is therefore our best asset in this dual ambition. I would like everyone here to keep in mind my conviction that it is the quality of this human capital that will ultimately make the difference in achieving our ambition.

 

This is why I took the risk of adopting a rather pragmatic attitude in the application of Article 114 of the revised Treaty even if some here interpreted it inversely to the point of indulging in schemes and maneuvers that ended up undermining or undermining their own interests and those of many others in the organization.

 

The wine being drawn, it must be drunk to the dregs while continuing to explore the ways and means as windows of opportunity to get out of the pitfalls posed by the application of this article without making the organization lose the few talents at its disposal and while paving the way for staff renewal and the search for experienced and high-quality profiles which, contrary to what we may think, do indeed exist in our States, to face current challenges of community building and regional integration.

 

 As much as I call for the end of the lawsuits regarding the implementation of article 114, as much I would like those who are reached by the retirement age and those who have lost all motivation and taste for performance understand that their honor lies in the free or agreed choice of other paths to personal achievement. This worksite will be open very soon, as soon as the conditions for the gradual recruitment of new staff have been met and implemented.

 

Ladies and gentlemen

Dear colleagues and collaborators

 

I have often been given to perceive an anxiety among some of us as to the resources their respective services need for the implementation of the Plans which under my direction have been drawn up, the Priority Action Plans 2021 and the Strategic Plan. five-year 2021-2025.

Even if some of us have been able to interpret the slowness, the explanation of which is mainly to be found in the scarcity and unpredictability of financial resources as a lack of interest in certain activities, I would like to emphasize here with force the clear awareness that I have a link between performance and capabilities.

 

Clearly, I know that the execution of our ambitious Priority Action Plan 2021 providing for many actions around issues as diverse as the contribution of Central Africa to the implementation of the ZLECAF, the establishment of a Development Bank and a Cooperation and Development Fund, the development of physical integration infrastructure projects, the free movement of people and goods, the improvement of maritime safety, the strengthening of links with specialized institutions of the Community, the revitalization of the clearing house and the establishment of the regional parliament may be difficult, for lack of sufficient human and material resources.

 

This is actually the moment I was waiting for to invite you to develop a spirit of creativity with regard to Community affairs, to strengthen your capacity to offer yourself to ECCAS instead of just seeking it to bring us conditions. better lives that we dreamed of before entering it, as well as your imaginative capacity to help figure out how to do more with little instead of struggling “a chair to sit on”.

 

As much as we need human resources, the treatment of which I am committed to improving, both working and living conditions through clear benefits, I expect them to be available and efficient. Beyond the declarations and performance contracts that will be signed, it is the awareness of a moral contract with the organization which will have to animate and energize the commitment of each other in the service of the Community in the organization and regional integration.

 

I made the decision to make this event an opportunity to challenge and help each of us open our minds to the hope of a better future, but with our own contribution.

Allow me to conclude my remarks with these words.

 

For each of you and for the members of each of your families, I extend the best wishes for a happy new year 2021.

 

May it be yours this year to taste the benefits of health, prosperity, peace and professional success.

 

May it also be given to you to draw from it the vitality, energy and passion required by commitment to serve a cause such as building regional integration and a Community capable of transforming destiny and the life of the peoples of our region of Central Africa.

 

Happy New Year 2021 to everyone!

Thank you for your attention.