Secular Society



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 the 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 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 Volunteers at a

General Meeting.

4.2. The Executive Committee shall be comprised of a minimum of three elected officers as follows:-

4.2.1. the President;

4.2.2. Up to three Vice-Presidents;

4.2.3. the Secretary, who shall act as the chief administrative officer, minute all Executive Committee and General Meetings, maintain a list of Members of the Society, and have official custody of all documentation 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 as many additional Volunteers as it may consider appropriate from time to time. The co-opted Volunteers 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: Resigns; or Becomes unfit for, and/or incapable of, acting as such; or 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 Is removed by the Executive Committee, by resolution adopted by at least two-thirds of committee 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 Volunteers 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 members 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:- 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. 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. at least a fortnight’s notice of forthcoming Executive Committee meetings is given. if all Executive Committee members consent, such meetings may be held electronically. three members of the Executive Committee are present as a Quorum for the meeting. at its meetings, each member of the Executive Committee shall have one vote. questions arising shall be decided by a majority of votes. Should there be a tie, the Chairperson shall have a casting vote. 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 a majority of the members of the Executive Committee shall be as valid as if passed at a duly convened meeting of the Executive


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 Volunteers, or to a special purpose committee, employee or agent. The Volunteer, 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. Membership Levels

5.2.1. Executive Committee Members (EXCO) Volunteers of the Society who are responsible for the affairs of the Society subject to the terms of this Constitution and to the Resolutions of the Volunteers at a General Meeting. Each individual Executive Committee member, and the body as a whole, is held accountable for actions with respect to the organisation. They may delegate some of the work to outsiders, but they cannot delegate their final responsibility.

5.2.2. Volunteers (Leaders) A Member who is appointed by the Executive Committee into a role and recorded in the membership registry; and Who provides services to the organisation and its service, administration or fundraising programmes, without remuneration. However out-of-pocket expenses are often reimbursed and in some cases an honorarium is offered to the volunteer.

5.2.3. Members An individual who is paid up and in the membership registry. Membership fees are determined by EXCO from time to time.

5.2.4. Supporters An individual or organisation who has agreed to support the aims of the Society and is in the SASS registry

5.3. The Executive Committee may decline Membership at its discretion.

5.4. Only Volunteers in good standing are entitled to take part in and vote at General Meetings.

5.5. Each Volunteer of the Society will be entitled to one vote at Meetings in person, online or by proxy.

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

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

5.8. 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.

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

  1. Meetings

6.1. Annual General Meeting (AGM)

The Society shall convene 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. Executive Officers can only be elected from Volunteers who have been duly Proposed and Seconded.

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.

6.2. Executive Committee (Exco)

6.2.1. The President shall convene meetings of the Executive Committee at any time, but at least twice a year.

6.2.2. At least a fortnight’s notice of forthcoming Executive Committee meetings is given.

6.2.3. The President, or in his/her absence, the Vice-President, shall chair all meetings of the Executive Committee.

6.3. Ordinary General Meetings (GM)

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 Volunteers at a General Meeting.

6.3.1. A GM will take place as required, due notice of which will be given by the Secretary at least two weeks in advance.

6.3.2. Decisions at the GM will be made by simple majority vote of the Volunteers and Officers present or by Proxy.

6.3.3. 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.

6.4. Special General Meetings (SGM)

6.4.1. A SGM may be convened by the Executive Committee or upon application by one-third of the Volunteers of the Society.

  1. Finance

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

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

7.3. 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:

7.3.1. Reasonable compensation for authorised services actually rendered to the Society;

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

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

7.4. 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. Grievance Procedure

8.1. Informal Grievance Procedure

The aim of this Grievance Procedure is to settle grievances or complaints fairly and it is intended to operate simply and quickly. Every effort will be made to resolve the issue at the earliest possible stage, and at each stage efforts will be made in order to avoid proceeding to the next stage and to settle the issue amicably.

8.1.1. If a member has a problem with any other member, and is unable to sort it out informally, the matter should be referred to the Volunteer whose role oversees that area of the organisation. The Volunteer will strive to get the aggrieved members to agree an informal solution between them.

8.1.2. If the problem is serious or remains unresolved or the member wishes to raise the matter formally, the member can use the formal grievance procedure.

8.1.3. In the case of a grievance being taken out as a counter-grievance, or in response to the start of disciplinary action, it may be appropriate to deal with both issues at the same time. If appropriate, the disciplinary procedure may be temporarily suspended in order to deal with the grievance.

8.2. Formal Grievance Procedure

8.2.1. Raise the grievance in writing The member should raise a grievance with the Volunteer whose role oversees that area of the organisation without unreasonable delay, normally within one month of the incident (or final incident) which gives rise to the complaint. If the grievance is against an Volunteer, the matter should be raised with a Executive Committee Member. Whoever deals with the grievance at the meeting, will normally be excluded from hearing any appeal. The member must detail in writing the specific circumstance or circumstances which constitute the grievance, with dates, times, witnesses, etc. as applicable. Members should stick to the facts and avoid insulting or abusive language.

8.2.2. Grievance Resolution Having considered the grievance, the Volunteer handling the grievance will give her/his decision regarding the case in writing to the member which will normally be within two weeks. If appropriate, the decision will set out what action the organization intends to take to resolve the grievance or if the grievance is not upheld, will explain the reasons. The decision will also include notifying the member of her/his right of appeal and the procedure to be followed.

8.2.3. Appeal of Grievance Verdict If still unresolved, the member may refer the matter, in writing, to the President, or if the President has already been involved in an earlier stage of the procedure, to the Vice-President of the Executive

Committee. The member wishing to appeal against a grievance decision, must do so in writing within two weeks of receiving written notification of the grievance decision, stating the reasons for the appeal. Any documents submitted in support of the appeal must be attached. Arrangements for the appeal meeting will be made by the President (or the Vice-President if appropriate) who will ensure that notes is taken. The appeal meeting should be held without unavoidable delay. Where possible, at least two members of the Executive Committee will constitute an Appeal Panel. The Executive Committee Members hearing the appeal should, if at all possible, have had no direct involvement in the case. The meeting may be adjourned by the Appeal Panel or person hearing the appeal, if it is considered necessary to undertake further investigation. The meeting will be reconvened as soon as possible. The decision of the Appeal Panel or person hearing the appeal shall be final.

  1. Disciplinary Procedures

The members of the South African Secular Society, including the Executive Committee and Executive will abide by the rules of the Organization. Should any member violate the Constitution and/or Code of Conduct, he/she shall face the disciplinary measures in terms of the provisions relating to disciplinary enquiries.

9.1. The Disciplinary Committee of the Organization shall comprise of a minimum of 3 members of the Executive Committee. The President, or in his/her absence, the Vice-President, shall chair all meetings of the Disciplinary Committee.

9.2. The rules of the natural justice such as the audi alteram partem rule and nemo iudex in sua causa and the rule of law shall be taken into consideration during disciplinary enquiries/ matters.

9.3. Each member facing disciplinary allegations shall be given an opportunity to submit his/her representation as to why he/she should not be suspended or dismissed.

9.4. The decision of the Disciplinary Committee shall be final.

  1. Changes to the Constitution

10.1. Only the Executive Committee are entitled to amend the Constitution of the Society, including any change of the name of the Society. A two-thirds majority of the Executive Committee must agree to the amendment of a particular clause or the entire Constitution. 

10.2. The changes to the Constitution 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. Branches and Student Chapters

11.1. The Executive Committee may authorise the establishment of Branches of the Society in regions, cities and towns throughout South Africa, and Student Chapters at institutes of higher learning.

11.2. Each shall have a committee consisting of, at minimum, a branch coordinator, deputy branch coordinator, and Secretary.

11.3. Each Branch or Student Chapter shall nominate a member to represent it in SASS General Meetings; and

11.4. Be permitted to handle petty cash for the Branch or Student Chapter up to a maximum specified by SASS.

11.5. Branches and Student Chapters may not have their own bank accounts; all moneys apart from the specified petty cash shall be the responsibility of the SASS Treasurer.

  1. Dissolution of the Society

12.1. Only the Executive Committee can submitted a Proposal for dissolution of the Society for consideration to the AGM or a SGM. A 2/3rd majority of the Executive Committee must agree to the Proposal for dissolution of the Society.

12.2. The Society may be dissolved at an AGM or SGM by a two-thirds majority of those entitled to vote to accepts the Proposal for dissolution of the Society.

12.3. 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.

  1. 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.

The amended Constitution (version 2) of the South African Secular Society was approved and adopted at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Executive Committee held online on 18th of March 2018.