THE University of Zambia is developing a Staff Discipline and Procedure Code which will make “unauthorised communication of confidential university information” a dismissible offence.
And UNZA also wishes to make it a dismissible offence for lecturers and other staff members to use social media to post libellous materials “likely to bring the University into disrepute” or publishing or uttering obscene, offensive, slanderous information.
According to the draft seen by News Diggers! offences that are drafted to carry a penalty of instant dismissal include: breach of trust or confidentiality and unauthorised communication, unauthorised communication of confidential University information, communicating unverified information about the University and bringing the university into disrepute, breach of personal confidence by disclosing confidential matters, unauthorised removal of privileged information and or documentation and disseminating such information to the public.
Other offences under the same category are; using libellous materials likely to bring the university into disrepute or publishing or uttering obscene, offensive, slanderous information, communicating information relating to the University to an outside organisation with the intention of bringing the university into disrepute, unauthorised communication of university agreements or commitments with outsiders without prior permission and committing the University to Agreements without authority.
And under the offences relating to information, communication technology, which all carry an instant dismissal penalty, are offences like using libellous materials likely to bring the University into disrepute or publishing or uttering obscene, offensive, slanderous information, communicating information to an outside organisation and bringing the university into disrepute, communicating information to an outside organisation and bringing the University into disrepute, unauthorised use of password, unauthorised access to protected/restricted facilities and systems and illegal modification of computer systems, software or data.
Other offenses under this category are; hacking computer systems, publishing obscene information in electronic form and disseminating such information to the University community, possession of pornographic materials and or distributing to others.
Other offences with an instant dismissal penalty under offences to do with dishonesty are; misappropriation of funds or financial mismanagement, theft and collusion to steal.
Meanwhile, according to the code, should any disputes arise, the burden of proof shall be on the “balance of probability and not beyond reasonable doubt.”
“The steps for the disciplinary procedures below are based on the rules of natural justice. The rules of natural justice are important in ensuring fairness in the administration of discipline. By virtue of the rules of natural justice, decision makers must act fairly, in good faith and without bias and must afford each party an opportunity to adequately state their case. It must be pointed out that at the hearing stage, evidence must be heard both from the charging authority as well as the accused employee. All evidence must be tested by way of examination and cross examination. It should be noted that the burden of proof shall be on the balance of probability and not beyond reasonable doubt,” reads the code in part.
“The following are the guiding principles under the disciplinary process: (a) There must be a thorough investigation on the matter and a report to that effect evidence, (b) The charge must be related to the offence committed, (c) The Charging Officer must be advised that he/she must be satisfied that an offence has been committed, (d) The supervising officer shall be responsible for charging his/her subordinates for any offence committed against this code whether the offence is committed within or outside the institution. However, in some exceptional cases the Registrar may take over this responsibility.”
According to the document, the some of the aims of the code are to: provide a framework within which natural self-discipline can evolve and operate, discipline employees for breach of rules and regulations and reform non- conforming behavior which is essential for the wellbeing of the individual and successful achievement of the organisation’s goal and to provide a mechanism for employees to raise grievances and a process to follow on resolving grievances.