Code of Conduct

CODE OF CONDUCT AND DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE IN TERMS OF COPE’S POLICIES AND CONSTITUTION AS AMENDED IN JANUARY 2014.

The purpose of this Policy is to bring uniformity to the internal disciplinary procedures against any COPE member. This Policy should be viewed as a measure to cultivate a COPE tradition that demands the best behaviour of its members.
This Code comprises the Disciplinary Procedures as well as the Declaration of Members which is attached herewith and must be read together as it is these two documents that make up the CODE OF CONDUCT for members of the Congress of the People.

 

1. Definitions

“Accused Member” 

Is defined as the COPE member against whom a complaint was lodged.

“Complainant” 

Is defined as the COPE member or COPE constitutional structure that lodged a complaint of misconduct against another COPE member.

“CNC” 

Is defined as the Congress National Committee.

“CPC” 

Is defined as Congress Provincial Committee.

“Disciplinary Committee” 

Is defined as either a Provincial Disciplinary Committee (“PDC”) where appropriate; or
Is defined as a National Disciplinary Committee (“NDC”) where appropriate; or
Is defined as an Appeals Committee (“AC”) where appropriate.

“Independent” 

Is defined as a disciplinary committee that consists of non-biased members of COPE that were not members of the CPC or CNC at the time that the CNC or CPC made any decision regarding the disciplinary matter of an accused member.

“Legally qualified” 

Is defined as a person with proven qualifications of any law degree and or law qualification” 

“Misconduct occurred at a National level” 

Is defined as all complaints lodged against a CNC member (whether ex – officio or otherwise) and a COPE public representative in Parliament.

 “Misconduct occurred at a Provincial level” 

Is defined as all complaints lodged against:
1) a councillor of a municipality within the relevant province; or
2) a member of the provincial legislature within the relevant province; or
3) any member of COPE in the relevant province except for the CNC members and COPE public representatives in Parliament.

 “Non-biased Members of COPE” 

Paid up members of COPE who did not raise an opinion, be it in writing or orally, about the disciplinary matter.

“NOB” 

Is defined as the National Office Bearers.

“POB” 

Is defined as the Provincial Office Bearers.

 

 APPLICATION OF THIS POLICY

2. This Policy is applicable to all COPE members. The four Chapters of COPE which are the Congress Women’s Movement; Congress Youth Movement; Congress Students Movement and Congress Business and Professional Forum may adopt additional measures specific to their sectors but which shall be consistent with this Policy in all material aspects.

 

SOURCE OF THIS POLICY

3. This Policy derives its mandate from the COPE Constitution (2014); the “Declaration of COPE Members”; the “Declarations of Availability to serve”; as well as all decisions and policies of COPE.

A. Establishment of Independent Disciplinary and Appeals Committees

4. The CNC shall appoint a chairperson and four (4) other persons to constitute the National Disciplinary Committee (‘NDC’).   At least one member of the NDC must be legally qualified. None of the members of the NDC may simultaneously be members of the CNC.

5. The CNC shall appoint three (3) persons, of whom one (1) must be legally qualified, to constitute the Appeals Committee (‘AC’). None of the members of the NDC may simultaneously be members of the CNC.

6. The CNC may substitute the chairperson and members of the NDC and AC at its discretion.

7. Each CPC shall appoint a chairperson, and either two (2) or four (4) other persons, to constitute the Provincial Disciplinary Committee (‘PDC’) and inform the Office of the General Secretary.  At least one (1) of the members of the PDC must be legally qualified.  None of the members of the PDC may simultaneously be members of the CPC, CNC, NDC or AC.

8. The CPC may substitute the chairperson and other members of the PDC at its discretion and inform the Office of the General Secretary.

9. The Chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee must ensure that the disciplinary hearing is at all times heard by an uneven number of committee members.

10. Any financial costs as incurred by a Disciplinary Committee shall be paid by the structure that appointed that Disciplinary Committee.

B. Powers of Disciplinary and Appeals Committees

11. The PDCs conduct disciplinary proceedings at provincial level.  The NDC conducts disciplinary proceedings at national level.  The AC hears appeals from the NDC and PDC. Any party to the proceedings is entitled to only one internal appeal.
12. The Disciplinary Committees may conduct proceedings in a manner that they consider appropriate in order to determine a matter fairly and quickly, and must deal with the substantial merits of each matter with the minimum of legal formalities.

C. Decisions and Recommendations from Disciplinary Committees

13. The Disciplinary Committees decides on the finding of the merits of the case as well as on the sanction by majority vote.  A Member of the Disciplinary Committee may not abstain from a decision.

14. The Chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee may co-opt an additional person(s) as an assessor(s) to attend, assist and advise the Disciplinary Committee.  Assessors may not vote.

15. The Chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee may appoint ad-hoc members to replace members who are temporarily unavailable.  Ad-hoc members are entitled to vote and are subject to the same restrictions as members of the Disciplinary Committee.

16. The recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee regarding the proposed sanction against the accused member may only be changed by the CPC or CNC as appropriate.

D. Procedure to follow re complaint of misconduct

17. Any member of COPE and / or duly constituted structure of COPE may lodge a written complaint of an alleged misconduct by another member or structure to the Provincial Secretary (if the alleged misconduct occurred at provincial level) or to the General Secretary (if the alleged misconduct occurred at national level). In the event that the complaint is lodged against either the Provincial Secretary and / or General Secretary then the POB and / or NOB must decide which office bearer should attend to the complaint. This complaint must be submitted within two (2) calendar months after the complainant became aware of the alleged misconduct, however the Executive Committee may recommend that the CNC approves a disciplinary process that addresses historical cases that are more than two months old on a case by case basis on its own accord or as recommended by a structure of the Party.  See “Annexure 1”

18. The relevant Secretary shall confirm in writing receipt of the complaint within three (3) working days to both the complainant and Accused member.

19.  The relevant Secretary must conduct a preliminary investigation in order to determine whether to charge the accused member with misconduct.  The Secretary may adopt an approach to the investigation which he or she considers appropriate given the nature of the allegation.

20. After the completion of the Secretary’s preliminary investigation he / or she must in writing report to the NOB and / or POB regarding the preliminary investigation and recommend to the NOB and /or POB to either:
20.1 Proceed with the investigation and disciplinary hearing (with or without a suspension of the Accused person) (See “Annexure 2”); or
20.2 Discontinue the investigation.

21. In the event that the NOB and / or POB accepts the recommendation of the Secretary to discontinue the investigation against the Accused person then this decision of the NOB and / or POB shall be communicated to the Accused member and the Complainant.

22. In the event that the NOB and / or POB accepts the recommendation of the Secretary to continue with the investigation against the Accused member then the NOB and / or POB must further decide whether the circumstances warrant a suspension. 

23. In the event that the NOB and / or POB accepts the recommendation of the Secretary to continue with the investigation against the Accused member then a Prosecutor must be appointed by the Secretary.

E. Suspension of the Accused Member

24. The suspension of membership of the Accused member may only be implemented after the CNC has decided so by means of a majority vote.

25. The Secretary must notify the Accused member on a working day of his / or her intention to suspend the Accused member. The Secretary must also inform the Accused member of his or her right to make written submissions on the matter within three (3) working days after receipt of the notice of proposed suspension (See “Annexure 3”). The Secretary must consider any written submission received from the Accused member before making a recommendation regarding the suspension to the CNC.

26. The Secretary must suspend the Accused member if the CNC recommended suspension. Suspension of an Accused member can only be justified on the basis that the Accused member’s continued membership will hamper the investigation (by, for example, interfering with witnesses or the gathering of evidence) or the Accused member’s continued membership will expose COPE to potential harm or put the name of the Party into disrepute.

27. The Accused member must be informed of the terms of his or her suspension in writing as soon as possible after the CNC have recommended this.

28. Suspension entails the suspension of all membership privileges.  In the case of an Accused member who is also a COPE public representative suspension will be on full salary.

29. Suspension of a COPE public representative will not affect his / or her duties to vote, in accordance with COPE policies, within the relevant Legislature, Municipal Council and or Parliament unless so decided by the CNC or CPC.  

30. Suspension of an Accused member is lifted when:

30.1 The CNC accepts the Prosecutor’s recommendation in this regard. The Secretary must inform the Accused member of this decision.
30.2 The CNC accepts the recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee in this regard. The Secretary must inform the Accused member of this decision.
30.3 Thirty (30) working days have passed from the date of suspension but the Disciplinary Committee has not yet convened a disciplinary enquiry and the CPC or CNC has not accepted a request for extension of the period for a hearing from any of the parties and informed all concerned accordingly.

F. Appointment of a Prosecutor and the formulation of charges

31.  The relevant Secretary shall appoint a Prosecutor within three (3) working days after the NOB and / or POB made such a recommendation.  The Prosecutor may be a member, or a non-member of COPE who has the relevant skills depending on the nature of the allegation and the disqualifications that apply to members of the DC and the AC shall apply.

32. The Prosecutor must formulate the charges against the Accused member and conduct an investigation as well as the disciplinary hearing against the Accused member. The Prosecutor may adopt an approach to the investigation which he or she considers appropriate given the nature of the allegation.

33. Upon finalisation of the Prosecutor’s investigation he / or she may recommend to the NOB and / or POB to lift the suspension of the Accused member and to discontinue any investigations against the Accused member. This recommendation of the Prosecutor must be made within ten (10) working days after obtaining instructions from the Secretary to prosecute.

34. Upon finalisation of the Prosecutor’s investigation he or she must formulate the charges against the Accused person and issue it to both the Chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee and to the Accused person.

G. Disciplinary Enquiry

35.  As soon as reasonably possible after receiving a referral from the Prosecutor, the Chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee must allocate a date(s) for a disciplinary enquiry and inform the Prosecutor and the Accused member thereof. 

36. The disciplinary enquiry date(s) must be not less than ten (10) working days but also not more than thirty (30) working days from the date on which the Prosecutor has referred the matter to the Chairperson of the Disciplinary Committee.

37. Within two (2) working days after receiving the date(s) for the disciplinary enquiry from the Chairperson, the Prosecutor must issue a written notice to the Accused member informing him or her of:
37.1 the charges of misconduct;
37.2 the date, time and venue of the disciplinary enquiry; and
37.3 his or her rights, including the right to representation at his or her own cost, the right to call witnesses and to present evidence, and the right to question COPE’s evidence and witnesses.

38. The Disciplinary Committee must conduct the disciplinary enquiry in the manner as set out in “Annexure 4” below.  The Disciplinary Committee must make recommendations in the manner set out in clause 13 above.

39. The proceedings must be minuted and / or recorded. The proceedings are only open to the relevant people. No disciplinary enquiry may proceed in the absence of the complainant, unless he / or she has already testified and is no longer needed at the enquiry. Disciplinary enquiries may proceed in the absence of the Accused member if there is sufficient evidence that he / or she has been timeously informed about the date of the hearing.

40. The Disciplinary Committee must decide whether the Accused member is guilty of misconduct and, if so, must consider representations from the Accused member and the Prosecutor as to the appropriate sanction.

41. The possible sanctions that the Disciplinary Committee may impose include, but are not limited to, suspension for a specified period, the imposition of a fine, community service, a written apology, or expulsion.

42. The sanction to terminate the Accused member’s membership (expulsion) may only be implemented by the CNC, after an appeal process was followed, if any, and by a simple majority of CNC members voting in favour of this expulsion.

43. When deciding on an appropriate sanction the Disciplinary Committee must take into account the seriousness of the misconduct, the effect thereof on COPE and on its relationship with the accused member, COPE’s purpose, mission and standards of conduct, mitigating and aggravating circumstances, the need for deterrence, and any other relevant factor.

44. The Disciplinary Committee must complete the disciplinary enquiry within four (4) calendar weeks after its commencement, subject to the Chairperson’s discretion to extend this period in exceptional circumstances, if it would be unfair not to do so.

45. The Disciplinary Committee must make a written recommendation to the NOB and / or POB within ten (10) working days after completing the disciplinary enquiry. This recommendation must be in accordance with “Annexure 5”. 

46. Based on the report of the Disciplinary Committee the NOB and / or POB must report its recommendation to the CNC and / or CPC at the earliest convenient time that must decide on the matter.

47. The General or Provincial Secretary must accordingly communicate the decision of the CNC or CPC  to the Accused member and inform him / or her of his / or her right to appeal to the next higher disciplinary committee within fourteen (14) working days of receiving the decision from the CNC and / or CPC.

H. Appeal

48. A member is entitled to only one level of appeal.  A member who was disciplined by the CPC may appeal to the AC.  A member who was disciplined by the CNC may appeal to the AC.

49. The appeal committee must consider the written submissions of the Accused member and the response thereto of the CNC and / or CPC and may call for a hearing in person, if it deems it necessary (See “Annexure 6”).

50. The appeal body must communicate its written recommendation to the CNC and / or CPC within fourteen (14) working days after deciding on the merits of the appeal.

51. The CNC and / or CPC must communicate its decision regarding the outcome of the appeal to the Accused member. The matter will then be regarded as final and internally exhausted.