Code of Conduct for Public Reps
CODE FOR PUBLIC REPRESENTATIVES
1. General Provisions
1.1 The Nature of Public Representation
The role of Democratic Alliance Public Representatives is central to the success and growth of the Party. Public representatives are the standard bearers of the DA. They represent the Party in every aspect of public life, and in important respects, the Party is judged by their conduct and performance. They are leading activists of the Party and are expected to demonstrate leadership, knowledge and judgement.
In Parliament, the Legislatures and the Councils, public representatives are accountable to the relevant caucus leader.
Outside of Parliament, the Legislatures and the Councils, public representatives are accountable to the Provincial Leaders and, where appropriate, Regional Chairpersons.
The Party requires its public representatives to maintain the highest standards of ethical behaviour, and any incidence of corruption, fraud, improper inducement, nepotism, dishonesty or similar offence on the part of any public representative will lead to disciplinary action.
Public representatives must comply with guidelines regarding accepting sponsorships, entertainment, travel, gratuities or any other financial reward, and must discuss the offer of any of the above with their caucus leader before they are accepted.
Public representatives are required to observe and comply with any codes of conduct prescribed in law or by the rules of the House of Council.
2. Duties in Parliament, the Legislature and Councils
Public representatives of the Democratic Alliance are elected to represent their voters and the Party in Parliament, the Provincial Legislatures or Municipal Councils. Therefore, the Party expects its public representatives to be present at meetings of the House, Council or committees of which they are members regularly, and to participate in the proceedings of the House, Council or committee when:
a) matters relating to the member’s portfolio are discussed;
b) matters relating to the member’s constituency or ward are discussed;
c) requested to do so by the caucus leader, the whips or the caucus;
d) it is necessary to defend or promote the Party.
When members are unable to attend meetings of the House, Council or committee, they are expected to apply for leave of absence, in the required way, from the House, Council or Committee, as well as from the whip.
2.2 Subject knowledge and preparation
When participating in the proceedings of a House or Council or committee, members are expected to have done an appropriate amount of preparation to be able to participate in a way that reflects to the credit of themselves and the Party.
Public representatives who are allocated a portfolio or office, or who represent the Party on a committee of the House or Council, are expected within a reasonable time to master issues relevant to the area of public policy so as to be able to articulate the Party’s views on that subject effectively.
In the process of mastering the issues relevant to their area of public policy, public representatives must establish contact with networks, professional associations, faculties and institutes which deal with this area. Moreover, public representatives should attend presentations, seminars and conferences on relevant issues as often as possible.
2.3 Voting and Discipline
When participating in the proceedings of a House, Council or committee, all public representatives are subject to caucus and/or Party discipline. Members are required to defend their colleagues, to promote party policy and to participate in voting in ways that have been decided by the relevant caucus in accordance with policies set by decision-making structures within the party.
2.4 Opportunities in the House or Council
Public representatives are expected to make full use of debating and question opportunities in the House, Council or committee in a way which promotes the image of the Party and the interests of our voters.
2.5 Adherence to Party Manifestos
Public representatives must fulfill undertakings made to the voters at election times and may be required to account to relevant Party decision-making structures on progress made towards implementing such undertakings.
2.6 Collegiality and confidentiality
Public representatives are expected to defend and support their colleagues. They are bound by caucus confidentiality, and may not without authorization disclose any information about caucus discussions or decisions.
Members are expected to be aware of the need to project what they do to the public media. In this respect, they are expected to build up good working relationships with representatives of the media, to issue statements, to respond promptly to enquiries from the media, and to write letters and opinion pieces for publication.
3. Duties in Constituencies
In terms of the current electoral system MP’s and MPL’s and some councillors are elected from lists submitted by the Party. In due course, the Party allocates to these public representatives geographic areas for which they are responsible. These areas differ vastly in size, number of voters, number of DA voters and varying demands on the public representative from the electorate. Moreover, some DA public representatives shoulder different workloads as a direct result of the portfolios they occupy or of the elected office they hold.
For all these reasons, the duties of public representative in constituencies will be negotiated between each representative and his or her Regional Chairperson or Provincial Leader on an individual basis. These duties must be recorded in an undertaking, a copy of which must be given to the relevant Chief Whip.
This undertaking will cover at least the following:
• frequency of visits to the constituency/ward(s)
• frequency of attendance at branch, regional and provincial meetings
• number of constituency and report-back meetings which he or she will attend and/or address
• frequency of the public representative’s own personal availability in the ward or constituency
• fundraising targets
• membership and/or branch formation targets.
With the framework of such an individual undertaking, public representatives must strive to achieve the following objectives:
3.2 Growth of the Party
Public representatives are expected to work to ensure the growth of the Party in their branch, region and province, and will be expected to fulfill reasonable requests with this in mind. These requests may include:
• being required to work in elections and by-elections;
• to solicit funds;
• to represent the Party at meetings or forums;
• to address or attend public meetings and meetings of the Party;
• to be present at street tables or to canvass voters;
• establishing and meeting membership recruitment targets.
Fulfilling these functions may involve travel and other expenses, which the Party may not be able to reimburse.
3.3 Establishment of effective structures
Public representatives are expected to play a leading role in establishing, supporting, guiding or rejuvenating effective branch structures throughout their constituencies or branches. They should attend branch meetings as often as practically possible. At such meetings, public representatives should provide information and leadership.
3.4 Public Profile
Public representatives are expected at all times to defend and promote the interests of the Party, and to propagate the Party’s policy and standpoints when appropriate. Any action or statement by a public representative which brings the good name of the Party into disrepute will be viewed in a very serious light.
3.5 Relationship with organs of civil society
Public representatives must attempt to establish positive relationships with all organs of civil society (eg schools, police forums, ratepayers and civic associations, NGO’s, local councils, hospitals, welfare organizations, environmental organizations, etc) in their constituency or ward.
3.6 Availability and Responsiveness
Public representatives are expected to communicate with other members of the Party and with members of the public when they are contacted, and are expected to deal expeditiously and courteously with enquiries from voters. Public representatives are expected at very least to acknowledge receipts of voters’ enquiries and to refer these, where appropriate to the correct organ of government.
Public representatives must be contactable by both the public and the Party and must lodge their telephone contact details with their Regional and/or Provincial Office.
Public representatives are also expected to attend meetings within their constituency or ward to which they have been invited in their official capacities or which it is necessary for them to attend to enable them to carry out their duties.
Public representatives are expected, in cooperation with provincial or regional structures and to the extent that resources permit, to assist in the establishment of constituency offices or contact points. Public representatives are expected to be available at such offices or contact points at advertised times or by arrangement to attend to voter enquiries.
3.7 Media Profile
Public representatives are expected to establish contact with the local media operating in their constituency or ward, and should monitor such publications and contribute articles or letters to them.
3.8 Issue identification
Public representatives are expected to be familiar with issues and controversies in their constituencies or wards, and must be available to take these issues up in the House or Council. Where appropriate, they should refer matters to other public representatives in other spheres of government.
3.9 Expanding support for the Party
Public representatives need to give special attention to building the Party’s profile in communities that have hitherto not supported it. They need especially to establish ongoing relationships with leadership figures in all communities, to get involved in community projects and to build trust in the Party.
4. Duties of the Party
4.1 The Party will take reasonable steps to mentor and assist public representatives in the performance of their duties. In particular the Party, will, within its means, provide training for public representatives.
4.2 Where training is provided, public representatives are expected to attend and to participate actively.
5. Duties towards the Democratic Alliance
5.1 Public Profile
It is the duty of all public representatives to build the profile of the Party, and to defend and promote its interests at all times. All public representatives are expected to act in a way that promotes and advances the Party. Conversely, any action by a public representative that harms the Party will be viewed in a very serious light.
Public representatives are expected to donate personally and regularly to the Party by way of a fixed percentage of the salary or allowance. The level of donation may vary depending on the office held and the representative’s personal circumstances. The Federal Council will establish minimum levels of donations expected of all public representatives, but Provinces and regions may increase this amount. A public representative will only be able to donate less than this amount if he or she negotiates a special dispensation with the Province or Region. No incumbent public representative will be permitted to stand as a candidate for the Party in future elections, if he or she has outstanding contributions to the Party.
Moreover, public representatives are expected to raise money from donors and to meet fundraising targets set by the Party.
5.3 Attendance at meetings of the Party
Public representatives are required to attend meetings of the Federal Congress, Federal Council, Provincial Congress, Provincial and/or Regional Council if they are members of these bodies. Public Representatives, irrespective of their sphere of government, who are elected to serve on Party bodies or committees, will themselves be expected to finance travel and accommodation costs relating to attendance at meetings of such bodies or committees.
Public representatives are accountable to Party structures within their branches, regions and provinces, and may be expected to report in person to these structures on their activities within the Council or House of which they are members.
6. Employment outside Politics
6.1 Holding office as a MP, MPL or a full-time councillor should be regarded as a full-time or virtually full-time commitment. MP’s, MPL’s or full-time councilors who have another profession or occupation are expected to disclose this fully and may pursue this profession or occupation only after permission has been obtained from the national leader, the relevant provincial leader, the chairperson of the Federal Council and the relevant whip. Such permission may be withdrawn after the holding of an enquiry should the MP, MPL or full-time councillor not be able to fulfill his or her representational or political duties to the reasonable satisfaction of the whip, in which event the MP, MPL or full-time councillor will be required to choose between remaining an MP/MPL or pursuing his or her other profession or occupation.
6.2 The position of part-time municipal councillors is obviously different. However the time-consuming nature of a political career, as well as the specific expectations contained in this document need to be pointed out to aspirant candidates before selection.
7. Enforcement of the Code
7.1 This code encapsulates and codifies the “duties or responsibilities” and “standards” thereof referred to in clause 126.96.36.199 of the Constitution of the DA. It is applicable to all public representatives of the Democratic Alliance and failure to adhere to it could result in disciplinary steps being taken against a public representative in the manner provided for in the Constitution of the DA.
7.2 Each caucus leader, after consultation with the provincial and regional chairperson, will establish a system of assessment whereby the key result areas identified in this code will be assessed. The results of these assessments will be made available to electoral colleges.
(Passed by Federal Council on 12 April 2002)