Muslim wedding rings

June 26, 2023Not much legislative progress a year after the court ruling on Muslim marriages

Visiting Fellow Dr Fatima Essop writes on the status of legislation to recognize and regulate Muslim marriages in South Africa.

In the June edition of Muslim Views (page 18), Visiting Fellow Dr Fatima Essop wrote on the status of legislation to recognize and regulate Muslim marriages in South Africa.

Last week cabinet approved the publication of the Draft Marriage Bill of 2022 for public comment. The Marriage Bill empowers the Department of Home Affairs to develop a single Marriage Act for the country, which will allow amongst other, South Africans of all religious and cultural persuasions, to conclude legal unions in line with constitutional principles. The Department aims to table the proposed law in Parliament in 2024. Cabinet has also approved the submission of the draft Divorce Amendment Bill of 2023 to Parliament, which seeks to amend the current Divorce Act 70 of 1979, so as to allow for a redistribution of assets on the dissolution of a Muslim marriage, and to provide for the forfeiture of patrimonial benefits of a Muslim marriage.

The Muslim community has waited for more than three decades to have their Muslim marriages recognized as valid under South African law. It remains to be seen whether either of these Bills will be enacted as law, or whether it is simply a ploy by the ANC government to garner support from the Muslim community as we near our next general election. “South African Muslims are undoubtedly tired of the protracted legislative processes for recognizing Muslim marriages that have failed,” writes Dr. Essop. “However, now is not the time to
be complacent. We must be wary of legislative ideas put forward by Parliament and private parties, or we risk passing legislation that is not in the best interests of all members of our community.”

Read the full article on page 18 of Muslim Views.