Valerie Mmanthe Mampshika,[Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and English].
The Al Jama-Ah political party is introducing two private members’ bills to parliament and they are hoping to transition the divorce and marriage registration laws in the country.
The party’s leader, Mogamad Ganief Hendricks, has gazetted notice to announce the Divorce Amendment Bill by attempting to adjust rules governing the formal ending of an Islamic marriage.
In the meantime, the Registration of Muslim Marriages Bill has been introduced to the parliament, seeking recognition of Islamic marriages in law.
The notice for Divorce Amendment Bill is currently open for public comment from South African citizens due to one of the aspects of a democratic country(public participation)until the 17th of December 2022.
The registration of Muslim Marriages Bill was introduced the previous week and needs to make its way to the portfolio committee before heading to National Assembly which consists of 400 members of all the parties.
Hendricks advised the Parliament that parties in Muslim marriages and homes have suffered and been left broken,as a result of being cut off from remedies available in the Divorce Act upon ending marriages.
Marriages performed under Sharia law are not registered as valid civil marriages in South Africa.
While the Constitutional Court has given parliament two years to be exact to rectify the country’s laws,and new laws are presently being outlined to make the rectifications.
Imperative remedies found in the current Divorce Act ensure that the protection of the interests of parties dissolving their marriage and the welfare of dependant children through access to maintenance during and after the divorce of parents.
Regardless of provisions being present in the current divorce laws, Muslim marriages are excluded, creating vulnerabilities for parties in a Muslim marriage and their children, including risks of violence, economic exploitation and more.
The Registration of Muslim Marriages Bill is another private members bill that intends to recognise a Muslim marriage as valid and binding in the eyes of the law – among other things.
The original Muslim Marriages Bill was introduced in 2010 to address inequalities. In one way or another, the government has not yet passed the bill. The Department of Home Affairs has made it clear that it intends to update and draft new marriage laws for approval in 2023.
Under the current legislation, there is no dominating policy developed in constitutional values, therefore the government now wants to have one bill which applies to all types of marriages.
Presently, marriages in South Africa are regulated by separate pieces of legislation for couples with different genders,polygamous marriages of opposite-sex couples through customary marriage after lobola has been paid up in full,and partnerships for both same and opposite-sex couples.