…New party constitution raises eyebrows
• New constitution coming
• Party members disgruntled
• Courts locked out
• Venaani could be in power for next 15 years
• Party discipline is a political procedure, not judicial
Members of the official opposition are in for tough times if the party’s amended constitution is adopted next month, because anyone who takes the party to court will automatically forfeit their right to appeal an internal disciplinary judgement. The party’s draft constitution, of which The Patriot has obtained a copy, which is set to replace the current constitution is set to be adopted next month at the party’s central committee meeting.
“The DTA disciplinary process is a political corrective process and not a legal or judicial process. Therefore the parties to the disciplinary procedure are under no obligation to meet the procedural requirements and standards applied in the courts of law such as detailed particulars of the alleged offences and/or discover of documents, and/or exchange of evidential materials before the beginning of the disciplinary hearing,” according to one of the clauses under the rules of disciplinary procedures.
The proposed constitution states that: “A DTA member expelled on the grounds of instituting legal proceedings against the organisation or any of its organisational structures shall forfeit the right of appeal.”
The provision was not part of the current constitution. The move will ensure that the party does not experience what happened to the ruling party, Swapo, when it was dragged to the court by four of its members that it expelled unfairly.
During the Swapo case, seasoned South African advocate Vas Soni argued that courts should not come to the assistance of members expelled from political parties unless the expulsion leads to the violation of an enforceable right, such as propriety rights.
“Courts should not allow disgruntled members of political parties to use the legal process to settle what are in essence political disputes,” said Soni in the Windhoek High Court earlier this year.
But while delivering judgment on the case in April, Judge Collins Parker said issues concerning justice and fairness are not seen as political matters.
The overhauled constitution makes provision for incumbent president McHenry Venaani to be in power for the next 15 years.
One of the clauses states that the party president is elected for a five year term by the National Congress and is eligible for re-election, but limited to three consecutive terms per individual.
Venaani has been at the helm of the party since 2013 after taking over from Katuutire Kaura.
Some sections of the party have since questioned the provision saying it infringes on their rights to seek recourse. “The country’s Constitution is more supreme and it makes provision for aggrieved people to seek recourse in legal courts, why must DTA prevent its members from their rights,” questioned a senior party member who wished to remain anonymous.
The member said the move is aimed at silencing anyone with dissenting views.
The proposed constitution prevents the party from suspending any member for a period exceeding three years.
“In the event that a DTA member is suspended, the Disciplinary Committee executing the suspension shall state the time frame and conditions of such suspension. With regards to Serious Offences, the period of suspension shall not exceed three years. With regard to Grave Offences, the period of suspension shall not exceed three years.”
It will be adopted if it is approved by a three quarters majority at the Central Committee meeting where a secretary general, deputy secretary general and 40 central committee members will be elected.
The Central Committee shall consist of 76 members and shall be composed of the following, according to the proposed constitution.
A quorum at the Central Committee shall be 50 of the 76 members of the CC. Where a vote is required, decisions at the CC will be taken by a simple majority of 50%+1
The new constitution is a complete overhaul of the current DTA Constitution of 29 September 2001.
Functions of party president
Serves as the Political Head and Chief Executive Officer of the DTA.
Is responsible, in conjunction with the Secretary General, for setting the policy directions for DTA Manifestos and other Policy Documents and overseeing their development and dissemination.
In times of extraordinary crisis, the President may call a Special Meeting of the Top 6 (Six) to act on behalf of the National Executive Committee, until such times as it is possible and practical to call a sitting of the National Executive Committee.
In times of extraordinary crisis, the President may act on behalf of the Management Committee, until such times as it is possible and practical to call a sitting of the Management Committee.
May by special invitation invite such persons, as may be necessary, to attend Management Committee meetings. Such invitees shall have no voting rights, but shall have speaking rights.
Shall represent and serve as the spokesperson of the DTA both at national and international level, and is charged with ensuring that the image, the good name and the reputation of the DTA is advanced and defended. He/she is vested with the authority to make pronouncements on the policy, direction and position of the DTA on any relevant and crucial matter at any platform.
Is responsible for the overall implementation and execution of the DTA Values, Principles, policies and plan of action as formulated by the National Congress, and shall initiate campaigns and programmes to this end.
Is accountable to the National Congress, the Central Committee, the National Executive Committee and the Management Committee.
Must present a report of the state of the DTA and the Political Situation in General to the National Congress.
Serves as the Chairperson for the National Congress, Management Committee Meetings and Special Meetings of the top six.
Shall assist in the interpretation of the DTA Constitution, Values, Principles and Policies.
Is elected for a five year term by the National Congress and is eligible for re-election, but limited to three consecutive terms per individual.