- The following code of conduct is designed to ensure that the operations of the Commission For Gender Equality (established in terms of Section 119 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and functioning under the Commission For Gender Equality Act of 1996) will be in the best interests of the public.
- The statutory and practical role of the Commission For Gender Equality (CGE) is to serve the public interest with integrity, honesty, impartiality and objectivity, in the promotion and protection of gender equality.
- These guidelines are intended to build each individual Commissioner's personal code, which should include, inter alia, honesty, truthfulness, trustworthiness, a sense of justice and fairness, integrity and a commitment to gender equality.
- The code of conduct provides operational guidelines within the context of the powers, duties and responsibilities of the CGE, as set out in the Commission For Gender Equality Act (no. 39 of 1996), as a key institution in advancing democracy.
- These guidelines are neither detailed, nor exhaustive. Other necessary details can be found in the Operational Guidelines, Regulations and Procedures document of the CGE.
2. PRINCIPLES OF PUBLIC LIFE WHICH GUIDE THE CGE
The integrity of the CGE should be upheld and protected at all times. Commissioners should not abuse their position, in the CGE to promote or prejudice the interests of any political party. Commissioners should not place themselves under any financial or other obligations to outside individuals or organisations, that might influence them in the performance of their official duties, or affect the independence of the CGE.
In addition to the statutory requirements for accounting to the President and Parliament (contained in Section 15 (2) of the Commission For Gender Equality Act), the CGE will ensure that it is accountable to the public, and must submit itself to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to its office.
In the execution of their duties, Commissioners should serve the public in an unbiased and impartial manner, and should not unfairly discriminate against any person on the grounds of race, gender, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language or birth.
Commissioners should be as open as possible with regard to all decisions and actions taken in the performance of their functions. The CGE should give the rationale for all decisions, and restrict information only when it does not serve the wider public interest.
- Consultation and Participation
Commissioners must ensure that they are accessible to the public, that their work and activities are easily understood, and that information on programmes is widely disseminated.
In carrying out the functions of the CGE, decisions must be made according to objective criteria and considerations of equity. All decisions must reflect adequate and appropriate justification, e.g.: making public appointments; awarding contracts; or recommending individuals for rewards, benefits and sanctions.
- Ethics/Anti-corruption Measures
Commissioners have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties. Should any conflict of interests arise, steps should be taken to resolve this in a manner which does not bring the CGE, its office bearer, or its work into disrepute. In ensuring good professional standards, the CGE shall promote anti-corruption measures both within the Commission and in society.
- Mutual Respect and Support
Interaction between Commissioners, staff, and with the public must be based on mutual respect, support, and the need to promote unity of purpose and solidarity in the pursuit of the goals of the CGE.
The right of confidentiality of Commissioners, and of members of the public must be respected.
Commissioners should promote and support these principles and lead by example. The CGE should promote a participatory, interactive and democratic style of leadership, directed towards the attainment of the vision, mission and goals, and away from self-promotion and personal prestige.
Decisions should not be taken in order to gain financial or other benefits for Commissioners, their families or friends. Commissioners should serve in the interests of society as a whole, not for personal gain.
The style and mode of operation of Commissioners should be modest, and geared towards building a learning organisation and an enabling environment.
3. PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS
Commissioners should perform their duties and responsibilities in the most time- and cost-effective manner. Public resources must be used in such a manner as to benefit those in the greatest need. Duties should be executed in a professional and competent manner.
Commissioners are obliged to respond to the public in accordance with their roles. They should exercise punctuality in the execution of their duties at all times. The response to the public should be informed by the need to be service-oriented, rather than rules-driven.
Commissioners must ensure that they are able to deliver in accordance with the POA and agreed needs. Delivery should be based on ensuring that resources are used in the interests of the public need, and not to promote existing hierarchies and systems of power.
Commissioners must avail themselves of ongoing training and development throughout their period with the CGE. They should strive for excellence in their performance and social relations.
- Equity in Input and Output
Commissioners should ensure that the workload is evenly distributed in terms of the time and effort contributed by each Commissioner, to ensure the smooth functioning of the CGE.
- Self and Peer Evaluation
The CGE should embrace the principle of self and peer evaluation. Such evaluation will at all times be constructive, and aimed solely at improving the quality of work and developing Commissioners to their full potential.
4. MODE OF BEHAVIOUR
- The code reinforces the need for accountability to Parliament, and includes the duty to give Parliament and the public as much information as possible regarding the policies, decisions and actions taken on gender issues. No commissioner should deceive or knowingly mislead Parliament and the public.
- Commissioners must not use public resources for purposes outside of CGE work.
- It is the duty of Commissioners to uphold the political impartiality of the CGE.
- Commissioners should endeavour to deal with the affairs of the public sympathetically, efficiently and promptly, without bias or maladministration.
- Commissioners should not misuse their official position, or information acquired in the course of their official duties, to further their private interests, or the interests of their friends and family. They should not receive benefits of any kind from a third party, which might reasonably be seen to compromise their personal judgement or integrity.
- Commissioners should conduct themselves in such a manner as to deserve and retain the confidence of Parliament and the public they serve.
- Where a commissioner believes he or she is being required to act in a way which:
- is illegal, improper or unethical;
- is in breach of Constitutional convention or professional code;
- may involve maladministration;
- is otherwise inconsistent with the code of conduct or best practice he or she should report the matter in accordance with agreed procedures. A Commissioner should also report to the authorities, if required to do so.
8. Commissioners facing public scrutiny in a matter of legal, financial, or any other impropriety should accept the personal responsibility of responding in a manner which at all times deflects negative publicity from the CGE.