The Constitution of the United Christian Democratic Party may not be the ideal document in its present form but like constitutions of all organisations can be tweaked to improve it.
A constitution is by nature a dynamic document that has to live up to expectations of the body it is meant for as well as the needs of the larger population it is intended to serve. It cannot be right that a constitution that was written in 1994 was never amended until only this year.
Amending the constitution is one thing but applying it is most important.
In the case of the UCDP, as the name implies, democratic ways have to be followed and practised. Prescripts of the constitution have to be adhered to.
The constitution from inception has called for or made provision for provincial executives to be elected. This would democratise the party and ensure devolution of power while giving opportunities to all as called for in the constitution.
It is a shame that the party has been controlled from head office without any provincial structures. Whatever regional structures and branches that tried to show their mettle were stifled by the centralist management style imposed on the party.
The interpretation of the constitution of the party was made to suit a very thin line of some individualís whims.
Other structures of the party, the Womenís League and Youth League, though they though they have their constitutions also operated from national only as they did not and still do not have provincial, regional and branch structures.
The party was bound to die the slow death it is facing.
The constitution of the party does not have a clause on a permanent leader or leader for life. This notion is an affront to democracy. Anyone adhering to this notion is out of step with democracy.
The current leadership is striving to bring the UCDP constitution up to speed.
The federal Council, the highest body in the interim of the Federal or national Congress has agreed and resolved to tweak the constitution to include a clause on misconduct and state clearly what would constitute misconduct.
There is a disciplinary process in place in case a member has been charged with misconduct. A due process has to be followed and the audi alterum partem rule will be followed. A disciplinary committee will sit to listen to the accused who in turn will be given a hearing where he or she will be at liberty to bring witnesses along to fortify his or her case. The disciplinary committee will make recommendations to the National Executive Committee who in turn will present the findings of the disciplinary hearing to the Federal Council for ratification. The accused will have the recourse to appeal to the NEC via the Secretary General should they not be happy with the finding.
Gone are the days of the committee of the whole where a complaint, even emanating from some malcontent member in the branch, without the knowledge of the branch or region, would find its way to the then Management Committee who would serve as the jury and the judge and there was no room for appeal.
To give effect to the devolution of power and of course cultivating leadership, the party has in accordance with the existing prescripts of the constitution started to arrange for the election of provincial executives. One such structure was elected with great fanfare in the North West province.
We pray much the strength of these men and women and we hope they will serve as the pilot committee to ensure that come the end of 2013 all nine provinces will e having provincial structures.
There are many advantages to this exercise. The party is to grow in leaps and bounds as the provincial officers will pore over the regions who in turn will have their eyes on the branches.
As indicated at the beginning constitutional amendments are necessary. To this end a constitutional committee has been elected by the Federal Council and will mount this task with aplomb. We look forward to submissions from the branches so that work may start.
As the Constitution of the party dictates that the Womenís and Youth Leagues should be in place, the NEC will insists on the national Office bearers of these structures to prioritise the holding of provincial congresses to elect such required leadership.
We call on all with the interest of the United Christian Democratic Party to strive for excellence yet bearing in mind that there is enough space for all in the party. No individuals should monopolise positions and aggregate themselves as the only barometers of the party.