South African Secular Society

Constitution

Preamble

The South African Secular Society is hereby constituted as a Not-for-profit Voluntary Association.

  1.  Name

The Association shall be called the South African Secular Society or by the acronym, SASS (hereinafter referred to as “the Society”).

 

  1. Definitions

Secularism is the strict separation of religious institution from the state, and the equal recognition of all people regardless of their religion or lack thereof, before the law.

The Naturalistic Worldview is a comprehensive worldview based in a scientific, empirical understanding of reality. It offers a positive, rational and fulfilling alternative to faith-based religions and non-empirical worldviews. The naturalistic worldview supports atheism, agnosticism, non-theism, and humanism.

  1.  Aims and Objectives

3.1 The Aims and Objectives of the Society are:-

3.1.1 to support and further the cause of secularism and a naturalistic worldview;

3.1.2 to campaign on secular issues;

3.1.3 to hold events to promote secularism;

3.1.4 to challenge religious privilege in the public space;

3.1.5 to educate the general public about secularism

3.1.6 to support the non-religious community in South Africa

3.1.7 to support the Secular Charter (Appendix 1 hereto) as a matter of policy

3.2 The Society may affiliate to any other organisation having similar Aims and Objectives and on such terms and conditions as approved by a majority of the Executive Committee.

 

  1.  Executive Committee

4.1 The affairs of the Society shall be controlled and managed by an Executive Committee, subject to the terms of this Constitution and to the Resolutions of the Members at a General Meeting.

4.2 The Executive Committee shall be comprised of four elected officers as follows:-

4.2.1 the President;

4.2.2 the Vice-President;

4.2.3 the Secretary, who shall act as the chief administrative officer, minute all Executive Committee and General Meetings, and maintain a list of Members of the Society;

4.2.4 the Treasurer, who shall open and maintain a bank account in the name of the Society, and present financial statements to Committee meetings and audited financial statements to the AGM.

4.3 The Executive Committee may co-opt up to three additional members as it may consider appropriate from time to time. The co-opted members shall serve for such period as the Executive Committee considers appropriate, but not for longer than the period of office of that Executive Committee.

4.4 Executive Committee Member Vacating Office

4.4.1 The office of a member of the Executive Committee shall be vacated if a member:

4.4.1.1 Resigns; or

4.4.1.2 Becomes unfit for, and/or incapable of, acting as such; or

4.4.1.3 Would be disqualified, in terms of the Companies Act or equivalent legislation in force from time to time, from acting as a Director of a Company; or

4.4.1.4 Is removed by the Executive Committee, by resolution adopted by at least two-thirds of its members in office from time to time, being not less than the required minimum of two. The Executive Committee shall furnish reasons for its decision to the member concerned, and to the Members of the Society at a General Meeting.

4.4.2 Should positions on the Executive Committee become vacant, the Executive Committee, by resolution of at least two-thirds of its members, may co-opt a Member or Members to fill the vacancies.  If the vacancies reduce the number of members to less than three, the Executive Committee shall make the requisite number of co-options.  The duration in office of such co-opted Member/s shall be for the remaining period of office of the Executive Committee only.

4.5 Procedures of Executive Committee Meetings

4.5.1 The Executive Committee shall conduct its meetings and regulate its proceedings as it

considers appropriate, provided that:-

4.5.1.1 the President, or in his/her absence, the Vice-President, shall chair all meetings of the Executive Committee.  In the absence of the President and the Vice-President, the remaining members of the Executive Committee shall elect a Chairperson from those attending.

4.5.1.2 the President shall convene meetings of the Executive Committee at any time, but at least twice a year, or at the written request of any two other members of the Executive Committee.

4.5.1.3 at least a fortnight’s notice of forthcoming Executive Committee meetings is given.

4.5.1.4 if all Executive Committee members consent, such meetings may be held electronically.

4.5.1.5 three members of the Executive Committee are present as a Quorum for the meeting.

4.5.1.6 at its meetings, each member of the Executive Committee shall have one vote.

4.5.1.7 questions arising shall be decided by a majority of votes.  Should there be a tie, the Chairperson shall have a casting vote.

4.5.1.7 proper Minutes shall be kept of the proceedings of the Executive Committee, and a record of the persons present at each meeting. The Minutes shall be submitted for approval at the next meeting of the Executive Committee, and thereafter be signed by the Chairperson of that meeting. The Minutes shall be available at all times for inspection or copying by any member of the Executive Committee, and on five days’ notice to the Secretary or his or her deputy, by any member of the Society.

4.5.2 A resolution signed by all members of the Executive Committee shall be as valid as if passed at a duly convened meeting of the Executive Committee.

4.5.3 In the absence of the President the Vice-President shall carry out all the duties of the

President. In the absence of both, the members present shall elect an Acting Chairperson

from those attending.

4.5.4 Only the President shall be entitled to issue press statements on behalf of the Society

and to delegate that authority.

4.5.5 The Executive Committee may delegate any of its powers to any of its members, or to a

special purpose committee, employee or agent. The member, committee, employee or agent

to whom such delegation is made shall conform to any regulations and procedures that may

be stipulated by the Executive Committee from time to time.

4.5.6 The Executive Committee may appoint a Chief Executive and other officers and

employees as it may consider necessary from time to time upon such terms and conditions as

it may consider appropriate.

 

  1.  Membership

5.1 Membership is open to all persons aged 16 years or more who subscribe to the Aims and Objectives of the Society.  Applications for Membership should be addressed to the Secretary in writing, or by means of one of the Society’s social networking sites.

5.2 The Executive Committee may decline Membership at its discretion.

5.3 Only Members in good standing are entitled to take part in and vote at Members’ Meetings or online polls.

5.4 Each Member of the Society will be entitled to one vote at Meetings in person or by Proxy.

5.5 Members may propose motions to the AGM at least four weeks beforehand in writing (hard copy or email) to the Secretary.  The motion should be signed by a Seconder as well as the Proposer.

5.6 The Executive Committee may cancel the Membership of any person who in its opinion has brought the Society into disrepute.

5.7 The Society’s social networking sites (Facebook Page, Facebook Group and Twitter Page) are operated subject to the rules of the relevant social networking site and the Society shall not be liable for any post or opinion expressed on such sites.  Members and non-members are responsible for their own posts.

5.8 The Executive Committee may hold online polls to gauge general Membership support for  any matters.

  1.  Meetings

6.1 Annual General Meeting

The Society shall convene the Annual General Meeting (the AGM) between 1 January and 31 March each year, which will: –

6.1.1 receive the President’s Report

6.1.2 receive the Treasurer’s Report and the Financial Statements for the period ending 31st December of the year before the AGM.

6.1.3 elect the Executive Officers for the following year from among Members in good standing who have been duly Proposed and Seconded; no-one may serve on the Executive Committee for more than five years in succession.   

6.1.4 discuss and vote on any motions that have been duly proposed.

6.1.5 discuss and vote on any policy or constitutional items requiring ratification.

6.1.6 Motions to the AGM require a simple majority vote for adoption.  In the event of a tie, the Chairperson of the meeting may use a casting vote.  

5.2 Ordinary General Meetings

5.2.1 Ordinary General Meetings (GM) will take place as required, due notice of which will be given by the Secretary at least two weeks in advance.

5.2.2 Decisions at the Ordinary General Meetings will be made by simple majority vote of the Members and Officers present or by Proxy.

5.2.3 The Chairperson of the meeting may permit persons who would otherwise not be entitled to attend to be present at an Ordinary General Meeting as observers without the right to vote.  It shall be at the discretion of the Chairperson of the meeting whether any such observer may address the Meeting.

5.3 Special General Meetings

A Special General Meeting (SGM) may be convened by the Executive Committee or upon application by one-third of the Membership of the Society.

  1.  Finance

6.1 Membership Fees shall be set by the Executive Committee and approved at AGMs.  Membership Fees are non-refundable.

6.2 The Society may hold fundraising events or solicit donations for the Society’s purposes or for an appropriate cause which supports the Aims and Objects of the Society.

6.3 The income and property of the Society shall be applied solely for the promotion of its stated Aims and Objectives. The Members and the office-bearers shall have no rights to the property or other assets of the Society by virtue of their being Members or office-bearers. No portion of the income or property of the Society shall be paid or distributed directly or indirectly to any person or to any Member of the Society or Executive Committee, except as:

6.3.1 Reasonable compensation for authorised services actually rendered to the Society;    

6.3.2 Reimbursement of actual costs or expenses reasonably incurred on behalf of the Society;

6.3.3 Remuneration for an employee of the Society, whether such employee is a Member of the Society or Executive Committee or not.

6.4 Bank accounts opened for the Society shall be in the name of the Society which shall designate the Treasurer and another two persons from the Executive Officers (President, Vice-President or  Secretary) to have authorisation as Signatories.  

  1.  Complaints

The Procedure for addressing any complaints is as follows:-

7.1 Complaints from any Member or nonmember of the Society about the actions of the Society or an individual Member should be made in writing to the President of the Executive Committee.

7.2 Where the complaint concerns the President of the Executive Committee, it should be addressed to the Vice-President.

7.3 The President or other appropriate Officer, shall respond by letter or email to the complainant within 28 working days.

7.4 If the complaints are in relation to the conduct of a Member  or Officer, an appropriate person will be delegated to conduct the investigation and report his/her findings in writing to the Executive Committee within 28 working days.

7.5 The complainant will be named in the report.

7.6 The Executive Committee may decide (by simple majority vote) to:-

7.6.1 take no further action.

7.6.2 issue a warning

7.6.3 take appropriate action

7.6.4 dismiss the Member or Officer from the Society.

  1.  Changes to the Constitution

Any changes to the Constitution, including any change of the name of the Society, must be submitted for consideration by means of a Proposal to the AGM or a SGM, and will require a two-thirds majority of those entitled to vote at such meeting for adoption.    

 

  1.  Dissolution of the Society

9.1 The Society may be dissolved at an AGM or SGM by a two-thirds majority of those entitled to vote.

9.2 On the dissolution of the Society, after all debts have been paid, any remaining assets shall not be paid to or distributed amongst Members, but shall be transferred by donation to some other non-profit organisation which a majority of the Executive Committee considers appropriate and which has Aims and Objectives which are essentially the same as, or similar to, those of the Society.

 

Adoption of the Constitution

The Constitution of the South African Secular Society was adopted at a meeting of the Executive Committee held in Randburg on 25 June 2016.

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