The Muslim Judicial Council hereby notifies the Ulama and their respective constituency that the matter of the Muslim Personal Law is treated with utmost importance and earnestness and is discussed at all levels in the MJC structures. We hope to place in perspective the MJC’s involvement and commitment to the process in the legislation of the MPL for the past few months.
In view of the fact, that the matter of the MPL has national implication, the United Ulama Council of South Africa, (UUCSA) which serves as an umbrella organization, assumed the responsibility since 2004, to represent all its affiliated members including the MJC in the MPL issue. Hence, the submission to the project Committee 59 was done on behalf of UUCSA.
However, for a number of years, due to internal difference between the Muslim organizations on certain clauses in the Draft Bill, no progress was made in the legislation of the MPL causing the process to stall until there is sufficient consensus in the Muslim community.
Despite this stagnation in the process, the Muslim Judicial Council (SA) has consistently raised the matter of the Muslim Personal Law.
As a point of illustration we are bound to point out that, at the MJC Executive level, the Executive Committee decided to inform UUCSA that it hopes to start a process investigating the possibility of having the MPL introduced in the Provincial Legislation in the Western Cape, as an alternative to the stalled National process. The objective was to have the MPL introduced provincially with the purpose of moving toward national implementation. Reference to the UUCSA minutes “MPL- Placed on agenda on the request of MJC – The MJC Executive are looking at the possibility of driving the process at provincial level since efforts at national level have stalled” .(UUCSA minutes 30 October 2008).
Prior to this in mid – 2007 the MJC called upon Imam Gasan. Solomon, MP to provide the necessary information to what the current status quo was on the MPL. In this regard the MJC hosted an UUCSA meeting in Cape Town on the 08 September 2007, and requested that Imam G. Solomon to do a presentation at the meeting. Reference to the UUCSA minutes “MPL – Imaam Hassen Solomons was invited by the MJC to appraise the House on the status of the MPL. He gave a historical overview of the process and said that:
• The Bill drafted by the Project Committee has been further ‘refined’
• The Portfolio Committee will in the near future be calling for oral and written submissions
• The process was stalled for a period of time due to differences within the Muslim community
Imaam Solomons stated that he was merely following up on the process at the request of the MJC”……. (UUCSA minutes 08 September 2007)
Furthermore, the Muslim Judicial Council leadership has consistently raised the matter of the Muslim Personal Law at meetings with the State Presidents, including Former President Mr. T. Mbeki.
At one such occasion, on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 the Muslim Judicial Council (SA) met President Kgalema Motlanthe and discussed various issues with the President, including the finalizing of the processes of Muslim Personal Law, since this matter was raised with government during Madiba’s tenure of Presidency, already.
President Kgalema Motlanthe promised to look into the matter and instantly instructed His Special Advisor, Mr Ebrahim Rasool to give his personal attention to it and to engage the relevant government structures to ensure progress on the matter. He assured that a meeting be set up with UUCSA.
Mr Ebrahim Rasool consulted the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Minister Enver Surty, whereas a fresh look had been taken on the MPL and the Minister decided to engage the United Ulama of South Africa (UUCSA) and to tackle the MPL matter from a point of consensus. In other words, he reverted to the original MPL Document, and had a focus on Muslim Marriages, which became the Muslim Marraiges ACT (MMA)
We are pleased to announce that on the 19 March 2009, UUCSA met with the Minister of Justice, Mr. E. Surty to discuss to MPL issue with the religious leadership. Strategically the Minister also invited, Mr. E. Rasool and strategic people in the Justice Ministry, who have been involved in the MPL processes.
Minister E. Surty informed the Muslim leadership about his decision to take the MMA forward and to gave the good news that the Draft Bill of MMA will be submitted to the Cabinet, on the following Thursday, after which it would be place in the Government Gazette for public scrutiny. The public would be given a further opportunity to give input to the Draft Bill. Once this process is completed it will once again be brought back to the Cabinet for legislation.
He also indicated his willingness to undertake a road show and personally engage the Jamiat ul Ulama (KZN) and other parties who have an opposing view on the legislation of the Muslim Marriage Bill. (i.e. the MMA)
The meeting concluded in good faith with the undertaking that Minister E. Surty will make sure that the Draft Bill follows the necessary procedures, and that legislation is passed on the MMA. He commits himself to continue after the election in April and to provide his assistance to who so-ever is appointed as the next Minister of Justice.
The United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) committed them on a three prong approach, by engaging their respective constituencies, printing a pamphlet informing the community on the current situation pertaining to the concerns people may have, and also to engage the Women Legal Centre.
The process is ongoing and the MJC is committed to meet with all stake holders in the future to ensure that the maximum results are achieved in the interest of the Muslim community in South Africa.
This piece is taken from the website of the Muslim Judicial Council South Africa.