Al jama-ah taking the lead on recognition of religious marriages and sewage free informal settlements and real public participation

Professor Emeritus Suleman Dangor wrote in a Muslim newspaper that AL JAMA-AH stalwarts argue that the Party is devoted to uphold and promote Islamic values within the political system. Their message is that the Party is a natural home for Muslims who are concerned about ethical issues. But this mission of the Party has dramatically changed. An examination of the support the Party got in the 2016 Municipal Elections show that many voters outside the Muslim faith in looking for an alternative political Party to vote for place a premium on a leadership they can trust who come from a community that is very charitable and for whom alleviating poverty knows no religion. That’s why a large slice of our vote increasing our Councillor count from two to nine come from these voters. So politics knows no religion. This puts a fresh obligation on AL JAMA-AH to deal with the pressing issues of diverse communities. So while the Party works hard to get legal consequences for Muslim marriages, fights to get favourable zoning decisions for mosques and Islamic institutions and to vote against increasing alcohol trading hours it has to at the same time work hard on the issues of the day facing other communities outside their faith.

In the rural areas of KZN Muslim Zulu voters want to know why they must complete membership application forms as they see themselves as automatic members of the Party because they are Muslims. Voters outside the Muslim faith wants the Party to exempt them policies of the Party based solely on the Muslim faith unless it is dealing with socio-economic issues. This means that a policy conference must deal with this challenge and exempt them from certain policies because it is largely faith based. This positions AL JAMA-AH as a mainstream political party and an alternative political Party for an emerging voter base that want change and a fresh approach to service delivery issues and lawmaking.

The most conservative Ulema are also embracing AL JAMA-AH as their political Party. Muslim schools, Hafez schools and Ulooms are now asking the Party to conduct master political workshops so their graduates can see politics as a career but with a main purpose to oversee procurement practices and deal with corruption that is so rife in government and the private sector.

So the days of an easy ride in politics just to promote Islamic values is over.
AL JAMA-AH is now a Party for all communities. After the King of the Zulus has recognized Islam as an official religion of the Kingdom the Party is inundated to deliver to all Zulus irrespective of their faith. The King of the Basothos summoned the Party’s leadership to Harrismith in the Fee State politely asking for investment from the Muslim community and Muslim countries to sped up jobs for their subjects. In Estcourt in the Natal Midlands the Party has been voted in to occupy a Deputy Mayor position and after a year in the position the Party has been complimented by the Mayor for bringing stability to this municipality. The Party is also addressing the sad phenomenon of cannibalism with Inkatha in the region. In Soweto the demand to alleviate poverty presents unique challenges for the Party. Nine councilors are inadequate for the Party to deliver. So it is aiming for 100 councillors in the 2021 municipal elections and placing shadow councilors in place in the selected municipalities it feels it can get a seat.

What does AL JAMA-AH do differently to other opposition Parties to get results? The Party is outvoted by the ruling party sometimes with the support of the official opposition Party. The Party is also not represented in the national parliament.

In its efforts to get legal consequences for Muslim marriages the Party took a bold step to use the opportunities provided by the Constitution and the Courts to make its voice heard which has resulted in the ruling party approaching the Party to come up with a draft bill to give recognition to religious marriages in such a way that Muslim leaders and the community will have no quarrel with such a Bill. This is unprecedented in South African politics and the birth of a patriotic alliances whatever that means.

Cape Town has over 200 informal settlements many of its walkways, streets and pavements steeped in sewage because of inhuman sanitary policies. Communities have emptied their poo on the steps of the legislature and poo throwers have hit the headlines. During by-elections as we campaign in these areas the Party is asked what are we going to do as a small party about their sewage problems. Taking up these issues in portfolio committees and full Council is a waste of time as the party has very little speaking time and its issues brushed off. So AL JAMA-AH came up with using legislation and complaints to chapter nine institutions which led to the City of Cape Town being criminally charged by the provincial government led by its own Party members and the Public Protector and the Human Rights Commissioner finding the City guilty of neglect and using alternative dispute resolution to bring about healthy sanitorial practices in the informal settlements. This is a first for South African municipal government where delegated powers are overruled by the intervention of chapter nine institutions.

While progress has been made with regard to two key challenges for the Party it has its eye on many issues dealing with public participation in the the IDP and budgets for municipalities. At the moment this is a big scam as the City has a policy of just ticking the boxes and no real public participation. The City of Cape Town wants to kick the party off it appeals committee for voting against extending liquor trading hours but this arbitrary decision is being taken to the Party’s legal advisor and the Chief Whip has delayed this unilateral step.

A cherry on the top for the Party is that it has the ear of the national ruling Party, access to the Big 6 of the executive and a line of communication to Director Generals. This in spite of the Party not being tied to the policies of the ANC and voting against its policies when this is necessary, the only commitment being that we are united in fighting a return to white rule in South Africa.