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Harties CPF: Getting Our Act Together
The Harties CPF belongs to us all and we need to consider ways to optimise and improve.
Previously the whole lengthy reigning CPF constitution has been submitted and the reader is welcome to verify any item mentioned. This article includes a short summary of the most important aspects that we must know about the CPF constitution.
Firstly just a short history of where the CPF currently stands with the constitution.
WHERE DO WE STAND NOW WITH A CPF CONSTITUTION
Problems with the current CPF Constitution have been previously identified and the community was involved in a CPF established committee to draw up a new constitution. I remember two whole Saturday mornings spent with 10 - 15 community and SAP members thinking through all aspects. This bottom-up proposal used the best of nationwide CPF constitutions. One of the aims with the new CPF constitution drive in 2013 was to clarify some aspects to ensure a healthy 2-yearly election on clear grounds. The community constitution allowed for self measuring / performance appraisal criteria, which would assist with an improved approach within the CPF. The community constitution also allowed for a proper database of registered CPF members, along with proper registration forms etc.
Sadly, these community efforts were discarded by the CPF. The reason given to the community was that a new CPF Constitution was in the making at provincial level and that such will be handed to the community in a top-down fashion. The Harties community's constitution was said to be "too bulky".
The elections were held with the current constitution in place (though on a basis of - any resident may vote). Politics entered with all the sorry aspects involved. The community was divided.
The new proposed top-down constitution surfaced eventually and it transpired to be the same old constitution based on the 2010 North-West Provincial Constitution with here and there additions and ammendments. Many of the same problems remain.
Two of the interesting ammendments in the proposed top-down approach entail:
- CPF Membership will be based on attendance of the past 3 CPF meetings
In this way the CPF wants to ensure that only the CPF active community members be involved in decisions.
This option was discussed in detail during the 2013 CPF constitution committee work sessions and physical member registration was still preferable by consensus - not merely meeting attendance. The option was discussed, however, for member registration to be cancelled if no meeting was attended for a long period - say a year. (The problem about obtaining a quorum during elections was mentioned).
Many people give very valuable contributions on a daily basis to community security efforts, but do not attend CPF meetings.
- The current elected period is proposed to be increased from 2 years to 5 years
Whereas the community's proposed constitution required a yearly CPF and SAP self-appraisal, this addition to the old constitution in the top-down approach seems to be a move away from accountability to the community. I propose this is not the right way to do it. The better way should be to rather focus on improving relationships so that the 2 yearly elections be normalised.
THE REIGNING CONSTITUTION
Remember - we are still bound by the rules described in the reigning constitution, however imperfect they may be.
Some important relevant existing aspects are:
a) Who are currently the CPF members?
This is a conundrum. The constitution clearly requires registration of members and any resident is free to register. It is unclear whether a database of registered CPF members does exist. No official CPF registration forms did the rounds. (Paragraph 5 and 7 and for the Sector Forum - Paragraph 20b)
b) Who may vote?
Only registered members and organisations (Paragraph 7 and 19)
c) What entails a quorum?
50% of the registered members and organisations. If not obtained - then 33%.
At this stage one may rightfully ask - 33% of what?
d) What about sub-CPF Forums?
The CPF constitution describes a Sector Crime Forum in Paragraph 20.
Currently Sector 1 Crime Forum at least is governed by Paragraph 20 and does not have a separate constitution.
It is a bit unclear at this stage whether this sub forum descibed is a CPF sub-forum as per the Police Act or a Sector Crime Forum as per National Instruction on sector Policing. These are 2 separate entities with separate functions.
e) Is there a Code of Conduct?
Yes - Paragraph 21.
f) How can the constitution be amended?
By a 70% majority vote and approval by the SAP Provincial Commisioner.
g) What about elections?
Elections must be held every 2 years, preferably at an AGM or Special General Meeting.
AGM to be in February of each year - Paragraph 11.
The last elections were in July 2013, so new elections should be held by July 2015.
It is proposed:
- For now - focus to get the relationships sorted
- Return to the community process and let the community create and decide on their own constitution, within the bounds of legislation and with SAP advice. Get out all ambiguities.
- Advertise widely and register members to adhere to the existing constitution. On this basis then - amend the constitution.
- Consider ways to involve as many as possible members during voting to get a quorum, i.e. multiple dates for a single event. Allow proxies. This is in the constitution.
- After amendment of the constitution and a proper attempt at normalizing relationships - hold CPF elections on the provisions of the improved constitution.
- If factionalizing elements continue to hamper progress - get objective outsiders in, i.e. from the board of arbitrators.
- Clear up the issue of a Sector Crime Forums versus CPF sub-forums and clarify the difference. Get a separate constitution for the various CPF sub-forums or SCF's.
- Hold general Indaba's often. Do not stifle discussion. Get everything above board. Discourage secret meetings and oaths of secrecy. Keep everything open and free.
- As with SAP - promote a spirit of Service to the Community by the CPF.