CIRCULAR NO: JMT/145/15
The 76th Supreme Council Session of the Africa Federation was held on 1st and 2nd May 2015 In Mombasa Kenya. By the grace of Allah (swt) the meeting was well attended, the deliberations and discussions were fruitful and forward looking.
Four resolutions were presented by the AFED Secretariat with a 30-day notice to all Jamaats, and one was proposed from the floor. All five Resolutions were passed by the councilors from Member Jamaats.
One observer of the meeting aptly put it: “All the resolutions that were passed were momentous in their impact on the community, and it is no surprise that little debate was required in all the resolutions, as they were all largely directed towards progress and governance of our community in Africa.”
Resolution No 1
Term of office of a President or Chairman of a Constituent Jamaat
It has been observed, that while most Jamaats have a limit on the number of consecutive terms that a President or Chairman of a member Jamaat can preside for in a Jamaat, some Jamaats do not have such measures in place. Looking at Jamaats worldwide, the periodical cycle of new leadership promotes new enthusiasm, new ideas and create new opportunities – all in the context of good governance.
The Secretariat therefore proposes the following Resolution:-
Any member Jamaat that does not have a limit on the number of consecutive terms that are served by the President or Chairman of the respective Jamaat will endeavor to amend the constitution of the Jamaat to accommodate such limits. In the meantime, all Jamaats, for purposes of good governance, to ensure that any person elected for the post of the President/Chairman shall serve for a period not exceeding six (6) consecutive years, Each term of office of the President/Chairman may be two (2) or three (3) years in case there is no clarity in the Jamaat’s constitution in respect of the length of term.
Remarks: Resolution passed unopposed
Resolution No 2
Dwindling membership in Jamaats
In recent years, it has been noted that there is a large influx of our Community members from smaller towns to cities due to access to better education, health and social facilities, and from Africa to other locations worldwide for similar reasons.
This has resulted in a steady decline of membership in our Jamaats while in some cases a few Jamaats’ membership has reduced to less than 25 members (which is the minimum requirement for a Jamaat to become a constituent member of the Federation as per Clause 2b of its Constitution) or has completely ceased to exist.
Every Jamaat in Africa has a Mosque and Imambara of its own, in addition to other properties. When the Jamaat ceases to exist, or declines to a population whereby there aren’t enough Jamaat officials with authority to initiate and/or handle the process of transfer of properties into the name of the Federation, it becomes difficult, or in some cases impossible, to secure the properties belonging to our community.
The Secretariat therefore proposes the following Resolution:
Be it resolved that henceforth all Jamaats that have been declining for three consecutive years, and with a population of 50 persons or less, will transfer all their respective properties to The Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-asheri Jamaats of Africa. Any income generated from property will be used to run the affairs of the respective Jamaat, be utilized for maintenance of the properties and payment of all Government dues and any surplus thereafter shall be utilized towards the development of the Federation and its constituent members.
Remarks: Resolution passed with two Nays.
Resolution No 3
Ladies Membership in Jamaats
Women today are more than fifty percent of our communities, yet have very little direct representation in leadership in our institutions. They have been fulfilling among the most important roles in our families and the affairs of the community in general. We live in a world that is evolving and advancing rapidly requiring all able members of the community to contribute towards leadership, development, social services and in volunteering.
Women should be empowered to have a greater say in the running of our communities and within the democratic and structured processes of our institutions. This is important as women of our community need to have a deeper sense of belonging and responsibility towards the progress of our families and community as a whole.
To this end, at the 14th World Federation Triennial Conference held in Dar-es-Salaam in May 2014, the following Resolution was adopted:
IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED THAT:
“The Conference recommends that all its Members ensure that Constituent Members consider membership for female members of the community. In addition, the Conference recommends that the ladies management committee should be elected by the ladies of that community”.
The Secretariat therefore proposes as follows:
Be it resolved that all constituent member Jamaats of the Africa Federation will consider membership for female members of the Jamaat, and will work expeditiously towards the recommendation resolved at the 14th World Federation Triennial Conference.
Be it also resolved that that all constituent member Jamaats under the Africa Federation will immediately draw up appropriate bye-laws or procedures to ensure that while membership for ladies is being considered, the ladies management committee (LMC) should be elected by the ladies of that community.
Remarks: Resolution passed unopposed.
Resolution No 4
Removal of the requirements of Guarantors for the Higher Education Loan
The Education Board in its criteria for approving Education Loans requires all applicants to provide two guarantors for their loan applications. This requirement was put in place to enforce the need for students to make regular repayments of their Loan and in cases where the students default in their repayments; the guarantors would come forward to clear the amount.
This system has provided with a number of challenges:
- When contacted, many guarantors shirk in their responsibility of settling overdue loans that they have guaranteed. To file legal proceedings on guarantors for these amounts is futile.
- We have found, given the lack of sufficient guarantors in the community, some guarantors provide guarantees for many students, effectively increasing the risk of the Federation towards these funds. We cannot have a two-guarantor, one-student rule, as the lack of guarantors will affect the possibility of newer students getting guarantors.
- Guarantors also tend to forget their guarantees, or realize their obligation on the matter, especially when contacted many years down the road.
- In the current model, there is little responsibility on the part of the parent/guardian.
- In the current system, where it is the guarantors who take the responsibility of paying back, no further action can be taken such as – complaint to a professional body against a student, even if truly seen to be abusing the trust of the community placed in him/her.
- We have also received complaints that the issue of guarantors is one of the main hindrances of students opting not to take the AFED Higher-Education Loan, especially for students of poor means, who do not have access to guarantors, in some cases defeating the objective of such a loan program.
Having realized the above, the Education Board feel that greater responsibility of the loan should be placed on the student and his/her Parents/Guardian, with the Jamaat and the Federation as stakeholders who would disburse the amount and would pursue avenues to recover these funds. This will make the process more efficient, encourage more students (especially those who cannot find guarantors) to apply for the loans, and allow for greater and direct action to be taken on voluntary defaulters.
The Secretariat therefore proposes the following Resolution:
Be it resolved that effective 1st June 2015, students applying for Higher Education Loans will no longer require to provide two guarantors for their applications. The Student and Parent/Guardian will have to take an oath in writing to repay these funds as per schedule, with the Parent/Guardian taking on joint-responsibility. All Jamaats will endeavor to assist Africa Federation in processing applications, due diligence, disbursements, and follow-ups into all such loans.
The Education Board is empowered to put new processes and controls in place to accommodate this new policy, especially related to necessary measures that should be incorporated to deal with students who willingly delay or default on their repayment obligations.
Remarks: Resolution passed unanimously
Resolution No 5
Following the presentation of the Secretariat Report, where Jamaats were reminded to ensure that they maintain up-to-date regulatory documents and that title deeds etc. for Jamaat’s properties are in order and are renewed at well in-time before expiry. The following resolution was proposed by Councilor Fazleabbas Chandoo of Nairobi and seconded by Councilor Shafiq Kanji of Moshi.
The Legal and Political Landscape of the countries we live in is undergoing rapid and monumental change. Whereas the Republic of Kenya has promulgated a new constitution and the United Republic of Tanzania is undergoing a review, other states may have a similar process. It is imperative that the Federation and its constituent Jamaats are fully aware of these developments and their affects and implication on the continued functioning of the Federation and its constituent Jamaats.
It is hereby resolved that the Secretariat of the Federation will endeavour to continually and critically observe the legal and political landscape with a view to establishing in what manner changes to this landscape will effect and / or impact the functioning of our Federation and its Constituent Jamaats. In turn all Constituent Jamaats will endeavour to keep the Secretariat informed of such changes happening in their respective territories.
The Secretariat will advise all Constituent Jamaats of the developments, changes and requirements in the said landscape.
As a first step to achieve the above, all constituent Jamaats should ensure that all legal requirements for the registration and functioning of the said Jamaats are completed.
All constituent Jamaats will report to the Secretariat with updated status no later than 30th June 2015.
Remarks: Resolution passed unopposed.
All the Resolutions took immediate effect whilst the one for the Guarantors for the Higher Education loans became effective from 1st June 2015.