Preamble and basic principles of discipline
- This code of conduct aims to help members develop an understanding of the ideas and practice of the political discipline, maintain a high level of integrity, professionalism, responsibility and accountability of members of Rwanda National Congress (RNC) at all levels of the structural organisation of the movement.
- It moreover aims to bring about a greater awareness of the dangers of negative tendencies such as, opportunism as well as factionalism behaviours that tend to threaten the very existence of the RNC as a revolutionary movement.
- It is RNC position that members, including anyone in a leadership position at any level; cannot preach principles, values and ideals in which they do not believe themselves or for which they blatantly lack competence, willingness, availability, determination and focus. Members shall adopt a pragmatic and solutions-oriented approach with a high degree of initiative and adhere to a rigorous, but flexible Code of Conduct.
- There is a need to remind ourselves of the revolutionary values and ethics that underpin comradeship and cadre ship- the very basis of being together in a revolution. These attributes entail selflessness, integrity, honesty, hard-work, mutual criticism and self-criticism.
- To achieve the responsibilities RNC undertook towards the people of Rwanda in view to positively, durably, peacefully and democratically change all that the movement highlights as bad governance, violations of human rights, corruption, unaccountability, irresponsibility, enmity, short or lack of delivery to the people, incompetence, ignorance, mismanagement; RNC members must shine by practical examples and excellence in all areas or improving from the smallest issues at the lowest structure; all the way to national responsibilities.
- The Code of Conduct is moreover an instrument to assist members or any person entrusted with any responsibility towards the movement to be more creative, committed, focused and goals-oriented towards the achievements of the objectives that the RNC stands for and aims to achieve in the foreseeable future.
- The values of selflessness, integrity, honesty, hard work and constructive criticism should guide RNC members through very difficult circumstances the organisation or individual member may face in the course of the national liberation struggle.
If our strength and organizational growth is to be considered, we must be concerned not only to recruit new members, but also to improve the quality of our existing members. We represent the cause of the people. But the way in which we conduct ourselves reflects on our cause itself.
Chapter One: Definitions of key terms
“Discipline” in the RNC context means the assertion of willpower over more base desires, and is usually understood as self-control.
Discipline further means values, morality and methods developed to regulate the conduct of individuals and organizations.
“Integrity” means consistency of one’s actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcome. It is the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s action; which is opposite of hypocrisy and treason against the members or the organization itself.
“Political discipline” implies and articulates a set of values and moral behaviours and conduct that allow activists to achieve their political goals as easily and effectively as possible.
“Professionalism” means that RNC members including anyone in a leadership position at any level must be trustworthy, competent, and respectful, act with integrity, considerate and demonstrate a high degree of empathy towards others.
The professionalism of a particular member of the Bureau Politique means a mastery of the details of the particular portfolio and regular updates thereof in line with the policies and practices of the movement. It will be measured against the basic qualities of competence, diligence, informational responsibilities, confidentiality, loyalty, honesty, and independence of professional judgment when faced with a situation.
“Self-discipline” means the ability to motivate oneself in spite of a negative emotional state with qualities of willpower, hard work, and persistence. Faced with more than one option, doing the best one can also commend others to follow without misleading or deceiving them; in a consistent manner.
Self-discipline is to some extent a substitute for motivation, when one uses reason to determine the best course of action that opposes one’s desire. Virtuous behaviour is when one’s motivations are aligned with one’s reasoned aims.
“Willpower” is the strength and ability of any member of the RNC to carry out a certain task to one’s satisfaction and convincingly to the satisfaction of others reasonably.
Article 2: The Code of Conduct binds everyone
This Code of Conduct binds every member and leader of RNC at National, Regional, Provincial and in other such structures as the movement may deem necessary in the execution of its objectives, goals and aims.
Chapter 2: The centrality of membership in the RNC and its leadership
Article 3: Voluntary membership
The RNC is a voluntary revolutionary movement that was established in 2010 to unite all the oppressed and democratically disfranchised Rwandans to fight for freedom, democracy and social justice. Nobody is forced to join the RNC and does not conscript members or retain them by force. RNC members join motivated by its values, principles and vision contained in the RNC basic documents and its practices.
RNC believes that the masses are their own liberators and RNC members are active agents for the fundamental social change. To join the RNC is to commit yourself to activism. It is for this reason that the membership of the RNC must be at the centre of the organization.
Article 4: Members are highest decision-makers
The members are the highest decision-making authority, through branches, regions, the Bureau Politique and the General Assembly. The leadership of the RNC should come from within the ranks of the members and must always be guided by them. Leadership structures must be accountable to the members of the RNC. The branch is the most important structure that directly involves members in generating activities and programmes of the organisation.
Article 5: Leadership and mandate
Leadership is elected to execute programmes and guide members on issues as they unfold; but the collective membership from a branch must always take active interest in the implementation and realization of the goals of the organisation.
Meetings attended by leaders should carry the mandate of the membership from a branch and should always come to give report—back to the membership after the meetings. This is the basic principle of a revolutionary democratic organization.
Chapter 3: General obligations of RNC members and leaders
Article 6: Acceptable conduct of members
Members of RNC, particularly anyone in a leadership position at any level; must always and everywhere shine by courtesy, dependency, cooperation and be highly committed, self-balanced in approach, with determination and every time must promote and protect the objectives and goals of RNC, including its members.
Article 7: Members’ accountability
All members of RNC particularly anyone in a leadership position at any level; must always and everywhere be approachable, supportive and accountable of any and every actions they are entrusted with and on behalf of the movement or which they undertake believing it to be in the interest of the movement.
Article 8: Delivery in one’s task
All members of the RNC particularly anyone in a leadership position at any level; must work to the best of their ability in the performance of the tasks entrusted to their particular portfolio and regularly update the Bureau Politique on achievements made and future projections whether asked to report back or by initiative.
Failure to deliver or under-delivery without reasonable grounds will be dealt with disciplinarily by the provision of this Code.
Article 9: Respect of structures and communication channels
All members of the RNC particularly anyone in a leadership position at any level; must not disrespect the structural leadership and organization of the RNC by not following the proper communication of information, grievances or complaints, contact and approach. All members shall have to exhaust the local remedies before approaching the high levels of the RNC either by email or any mass or social media means, letter, telephonically or in any other form.
Article 10: Avoidance of conflicts and spreading rumours
All members of the RNC must exhibit a positive attitude in all what they do as part of the leadership of the movement. They should avoid any violent conflicts among themselves or with third parties that may endanger the image of the movement or bring it into disrepute.
Members should avoid spreading rumours about the movement or any information they know nothing of or lack sufficient information to address it convincingly, persuasively and objectively. Faced with rumours or information for which the member has no knowledge or little knowledge of, she/he shall have the information shared, verified and completed by persons with sufficient knowledge or in a position to decide what to do of such information.
Article 11: Avoidance or disrespect towards others
All Members of the RNC, including committees’ members of different levels of leadership must avoid comments, remarks, observations, speeches or any other such pronouncements and attitudes, writings or sketching that may be reasonably viewed as directly or indirectly portraying the lack of respect towards colleagues or members of the movement or the movement itself.
Article 12: Separation of personal interests with those of the organisation
All members of the RNC, particularly anyone in a leadership position at any level; must never handle personal interests while in the business of the RNC. To ensure respect towards others, everyone must leave personal unexpressed feelings on him or herself.
Article 13: Use of inappropriate or derogatory language
Inappropriate or derogatory language is not allowed within the movement and specifically within the members of the RNC.
Article 14: Unauthorized recording
All members are prohibited from taking still or in motion photo footages, videos, voice recording, and minutes of any proceedings, gathering or any other such event organized by RNC, unless authorized beforehand.
Article 15: Authorized records keeping
Only authorized and empowered organs of the RNC can divulge, communicate or otherwise publicize any confidential or any other information aimed at public consumption.
Article 16: Personal initiatives
Personal initiatives aimed at advertising the work or making the movement known or campaigning for it must be authorized beforehand whether done in person, on any social media channels of communication including, but not limited to facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, email, whatsup, websites’ blogs or any such other channels of communication or social or mass media. This include ordinary but are not limited to letters, faxes, short telephone messages, photos or any other documents, resolutions or any verbal press statement on radio and television or discussions mouth to mouth done in the name or by a person appealing in an official capacity of the RNC or whom the public may believe he is speaking on its behalf in such a capacity.
Article 17: Attendance to meetings
Attendance to RNC ordinary and extraordinary meetings is compulsory unless reasonable grounds have been communicated to the convener of the meeting twelve (12) hours following the convener’s communication of the ordinary meeting or 3 hours thereof for extraordinary or emergency meetings.
The convener of the meeting may, if he/she deems it in the interest of the organisation, request written and recordable reasons for non-attendance to the meetings.
Article 18: Late coming to meetings or other RNC events
Late coming to meetings or other RNC events is not allowed whether online, by telephone, by physical contact or otherwise. The meeting or event convener in consultation with the person chairing the meeting or officiating the event shall ensure that meetings or events start on the agreed time without unnecessary time extension; that breaks are observed and not unnecessarily prolonged and that meetings or events stick to their stated agendas. Unauthorized absence and unexplained late coming to meetings or events are misconducts and will be dealt with disciplinarily.
Article 19: Disruptive behavior in meetings
No one shall eat, smoke or drink any alcoholic beverages in a meeting or cause any other actions that the person chairing the meeting or anyone from the participants may deem disruptive or diverting personal or collective attention. Such actions may include, but not limited to reading, sleeping, or focusing attention to anything else unrelated to the agenda of the meeting or part thereof.
Cell phones usage while a meeting is in session is prohibited unless necessary permission has been sought and authorized by the person chairing the meeting and for as long as the meeting does not suffer from such usage or unnecessarily interruption.
Article 20: Discipline during meetings
When a meeting is in session at all levels, representations, comments, remarks, observations, written or verbal contributions must be authorized by the person chairing the meeting. Such a person shall ensure that every person present in the meeting who wishes to speak does so in an orderly, peaceful and respectable manner towards anyone present.
Participants should always avoid speaking to one another or in groups while the meeting is underway. All representations must go through the person chairing the meeting.
Personal attacks against a participant for reasons unrelated to the meeting agenda are not allowed throughout.
A person intervening should not prolong his intervention unnecessarily. In any event, intervention should not last longer than five (5) minutes unless otherwise decided.
No one shall address personal interests or issues in an RNC meeting unless such address has direct impact on the agenda or part of the agenda of the meeting or its outcome.
Article 21: The responsibility of the person chairing a meeting
The person chairing the meeting is responsible of the time management in the overall timeframe of any ordinary, extraordinary or emergency meeting. He/she must ensure that the time allocated be fairly used and fatigue does not come out of time mismanagement or that the meeting fails to take the necessary resolutions and decisions.
The person chairing the meeting must ensure that everyone has the opportunity to speak when he/she wishes to do so; and allocate the time accordingly. Interveners must focus on the topic that is being addressed and digressions will not be allowed.
The person chairing the meeting is entitled to deny representations, comments, remarks, observations, written or verbal contributions; which, in his opinion or any other participant are out of the topic on agenda. Reasons for such denial must be given forthwith.
No one is allowed to vacate the meeting before the person chairing it unless reasonable grounds have been provided and accepted before the meeting starts or anytime during the meeting if it is an emergency closes it.
Article 22: Responsibility to communicate decisions
It is the responsibility of the Secretariat at any level or any other person entrusted with the execution, communication or operationalization of a decision or resolution to ensure that such execution, communication, operationalization reaches all addressees or any person charged with execution in reasonable time for such communication, execution or operationalization and that feedback or progress report is provided at the next meeting to avoid workload and backlog.
Chapter 3: The decision-making process, canvassing opinions and elections
Article 23: Democratic principle during meetings
Democracy is one of the principles of our struggle. Democratic decisions making takes place when members in an organization take decisions through discussions and debates by all present.
The discussions and debates are democratic in the sense that those present have a right to be heard irrespective of the views they hold. They also have the right to differ if they wish. These rights must be respected. This does not mean that any person has the right to dominate or to speak for long unnecessarily without thinking about time constraint and opportunity of others to speak.
The chairperson of the meeting has the obligation to allocate time to different speakers in such a way that all points of view are allowed equal airing.
Article 24: Decisions taken in a democratic process
Once matters have been debated, decisions need to be taken by consensus. Where it is impossible to reach consensus; decisions are taken on the simple majority, unless otherwise stated in the organization statute.
A decision taken then becomes binding on all concerned. It binds those who differed with the decision during the debate and those who may have voted against it as well as those who agreed with it. The right to differ then falls away and transforms itself into the duty to implement the decision.
In exceptional circumstances a person may seek leave to register a dissenting opinion on a particular point of discussion if supported by reasonable and objective grounds.
Article 25: Failure to observe democratic decisions
The failure to observe both the democratic decision-making process and the duty to implement collective decisions leads to differences, divisions and decisions not being implemented. This leads to the organizations becoming ineffective and directionless and being unable to actively achieve their goals.
The ideal member in this respect is he/she who, although differing with the decisions, nevertheless goes about implementing decisions with the same vigour and enthusiasm as those who approved them. The failure to do so becomes indiscipline and punishable as such.
Article 26: Decisions taken in emergency situations
There are times in the life of an organization when decisions need to be taken in emergency situations without discussions. These decisions must be reviewed when circumstances allow for members of the organization to approve the decision, then the decision need to be formally passed.
Article 27: Temporal nature of decisions
Decisions need not be of a permanent nature. Circumstances change and such change often warrant altering, reviewing or rejecting the decisions. However, the correct organisational procedures must be followed or other formal mechanism provided for such change, appropriate consultation must be engaged where an emergency arises, such decisions must be ratified by the collective soon thereafter.
Article 28: Canvassing opinions
Canvassing opinions is the soliciting of views with the object of swaying others to adopt some particular views. Canvassing opinion is taken as part of a democratic practice, if it is done within the acceptable parameters of a democratic organization.
Canvassing must always be done within the structured framework that allows members to freely air their views on a particular matter so that these views can get debated and a final decision be taken on the basis of the views of the majority.
Once a decision is taken, canvassing comes to an end. All members are bound by this decision and must vigorously defend it, even if initially a member had a different view. Nobody is allowed to continue to canvass against a decision already taken. Such actions are inexcusable.
Article 29: Unacceptable canvassing
It is politically incorrect for any branch, section of the branch or region to approach other branches, groupings, sections of other branches with the view of canvassing their opinions, and attempting to win them over to its own view outside a formal structure of the branch, region or province. Such conduct must be avoided. Each branch has the ability to reach its own conclusions. Their independence to do so must be respected. Should a branch or section of the branch wish to canvass opinions of others on matters referred to all branches, it is entitled to do so, provided it does so in a formal meeting of the branch, through open persuasion. Members cannot do this by holding secret caucuses of factions wherein they invite their selected comrades from other branches or regions.
Secret or factional caucuses are not allowed in the RNC as there is ample opportunity for open and democratic debate on all matters affecting the organization.
Article 30: Campaigning for office
Members shall voluntarily avail themselves to become candidates to any leadership position within the RNC if they meet its requirements as stated by authorized structures. Campaigning and the election process of leadership shall be open, frank and democratic. Branches are the primary structures that shall support and elect regional, provincial and national leadership without interference from anyone irrespective of his/her position in the organisation.
No secret caucuses done individually or through lobby groups shall be allowed to operate in the RNC and assume the role of being power-brokers among the membership.
Circulation of lists or other forms of contact preceding or during elections will not be allowed outside the formal meetings of members and branches.
Article 31: Assessment of leadership
The membership should be allowed to assess the performance and capabilities of cadres and decide on who must lead them without any undue pressure or influence from groups and or factions seeking election through illegitimate means.
Members have the right to express their dissatisfaction on action or lack of action, incompetence or any other failure in terms of this Code of Conduct; by their superiors without being perceived as insubordinate or being disciplined for exercising this right; provided that they follow the proper and established procedure.
The voice of the membership must be heard and respected.
Chapter 4: Disciplinary committees and powers
Article 32: Establishment of disciplinary committees
It shall be established a Disciplinary Committee at Regional (RDC) and a Disciplinary Appeal Committee at National level (NDAC). Each committee shall be independent in its deliberations.
Each committee at regional level shall be composed of 3 members and 5 members at national level regard being had to their high level of discipline, integrity, professionalism, responsibility, accountability, demonstrable degree of fairness and justice and outstanding service to RNC.
Article 33: Powers of disciplinary committees
The Regional Disciplinary Committee (RDC) shall have the power to take any disciplinary action provided for under article 35 which is not expulsion against an RNC member for breach of the Code of Conduct. Anyone, whether complainant or disciplinary defaulter, may appeal any decision taken by the RDC.
The National Disciplinary Appeal Committee (NDAC) shall have the power to
- To hear an appeal against the decision taken by the RDC.
- To hear and take disciplinary actions against members of the Bureau Politique.
The NDAC shall not revisit the evidence or representations upon which the RDC has based its decision against a defaulter or to reject a disciplinary complaint unless such new evidence was unavailable at the time of the hearing of the RDC and could have impacted on its determination and decision. The NDAC decision shall be final.
Article 34: Rights of disciplinary defaulters
Before any disciplinary action is taken against any member; such member shall always be given an opportunity to appeal in person before the RDC and there admit, deny or otherwise account for the conduct complained against. Anyone who so wishes may seek to be assisted by a person of his/her choice to advise him/her on any disciplinary matters.
Article 35: Disciplinary measures and actions
Disciplinary measures and actions that can be taken are the following
- Verbal warning in the form of blame;
- Written warning;
- Suspension from an elective leadership position for a period of time to be determined by the Disciplinary Committee;
- Dismissal from an elective leadership position;
- Transfer to a lower structure;
- Suspension from the RNC for a period of time to be determined by the Disciplinary Commission;
- Expulsion from the RNC.
Article 36: Disciplinary procedures
A disciplinary action may be instituted at regional level if the Regional Executive Committee has so decided after all internal remedial actions have been exhausted. The Regional Executive Committee will designate one or two persons to pursue, provide and lead evidence against the defaulter before the RDC.
The National Executive Committee shall also decide to initiate any disciplinary action falling within its competence and seize the NDAC. Upon deciding that a case will be referred to the NDAC, the National Executive Committee shall appoint one or two persons to pursue, provide and lead its actions before the NDAC.
The internal rules of procedure of a disciplinary committee at regional or national level shall be agreed upon by each committee seized unless otherwise stated or contained in an annexed schedule to this Code.
Any disciplinary decision taken at national or regional level shall be notified to the level that required it and to the person against whom it has been taken within seven days (7) from the date it has been taken. Anyone found guilty of a disciplinary misconduct in terms of article 33 shall have 14 days to appeal the decision taken against him/her.
Aggrieved members of the Bureau Politique found guilty of a disciplinary misconduct whom have no other level of appeal in terms of this Code of Conduct may, within seven days (7) of such a decision, seek a remedial action from the Committee of Elders provided for in article 24 of the RNC Status. In this exceptional circumstance, the decision of the committee shall be final and binding on all involved.
Article 37: Amendment
Any member of the RNC may suggest amendments to this Code of Conduct. Such amendment will proceed if it is supported by the member’s branch Executive Committee at a simple majority. Amendments proposed by National, Regional or Branches must be approved by the same majority at that particular level and approved only at a simple majority.
Article 38: Entry into force
This Code of Conduct enters into force on the date of its adoption.
Adopted at an Extraordinary Session of the Rwanda National Congress Bureau Politique meeting held in Pretoria on 30 AUGUST 2017