Former provincial legislator for the Al Jama-ah party, Isgak De Jager, is determined to take the party to court after he was removed from his position.
De Jager says the complaints against him from the party’s side stem from his refusal to pay what he regards as an unfair amount that was not originally agreed upon. Al Jama-ah, however, argued in a press release that “dedication to duty was not seen with Mr De Jager” that ”Al Jama-ah acts firmly with its public representatives if they don’t make the cut” and that “Mr De Jager together with non-compliance with party policies did not make the cut.”
According to De Jager, he was expected to pay R142 000, which he objected to. He explained that while an agreement he signed prior to elections stipulated that members of the party elected to representative positions must pay 50 percent of their net salary, submissions to the Human Resources department of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament by Al Jama-ah reflected that it was 50 percent of the gross salary instead. De Jager says the amount the party wanted deducted ultimately came to R36 000 per month, but he was only prepared to pay a 10 percent rate of deduction.
However, he maintains that there was no agreement in place when he was officially elected as a provincial legislator and that ultimately the gripe seems to be about the deductions being based off the gross, rather than the net salary as De Jager says was agreed upon.
“I thought to myself: ‘I might as well go back to my construction work and earn R10 000 or R11 000 a month again and not have all this pressure with party work’,” he said.
Internal party politics seem to reflect, according to De Jager, that the party regarded him as “putting the party in disrepute” as early as 22 July this year.
He’s also suspicious of the debt that the party mentions. De Jager says that they continuously refer to their large sums of debt despite failing to show their books to members like him who request it.
“I cannot cover other people’s debt from my salary and then you still expect me to do party work and set up branches… who’s going to cover my expenses and family affairs?” said De Jager.
De Jager has dismissed the accusations of incompetence levelled against him, claiming that no assessment of his performance was carried out. He also says that he no longer regards the party as one that is carrying out its mandate or abiding by an Islamic ethos.
While the deductions demanded by Al Jama-ah may strike many readers as unethical and exorbitant, a political systems researcher has explained that the party is possibly well within its rights.
Can political parties order deductions?
Zaahirah Grimwood, a political systems researcher at My Vote Counts, says that party members may be obliged to pay a contribution of their salary to their political parties depending on the party’s rules and policies…and for good reasons, at times.
“Smaller political parties are more likely to have these kinds of rules, seeing as they struggle to raise private funds…therefore it’s more likely that you’d have parties like that making it a requirement, regardless of whether it’s ethical or not.
When it comes to political parties and their status in our legal context, they’re treated as voluntary associations or private entities…political parties have constitutions but that constitution can state anything and they have the right to put such requirements in it.”
In a letter issued by Al Jama-ah to De Jager, the party said “When you became a member of Al Jama-ah, you agreed to adhere and respect the party’s constitution, as well as its policies and rules. In terms of the party’s Policy on Party Contributions, you were obliged to make payment of a specified percentage of your monthly salary, as a MPL [Member of Provincial Legislature], to Al Jama-ah. From the time that you were elected as an MPL, you have failed to make payment of your agreed party contribution, on a monthly basis.”
The party called upon De Jager to “explain his actions in this regard and also to advance reasons why his membership should be renewed while he remains in default with his financial obligations…”
The party has maintained that as a result of several continuing issues pertaining to De Jager within its ranks and membership as well as De Jager’s failure to renew his membership as is annually required, his membership to Al Jama-ah was discontinued.
Note: Al Jama-ah was invited to comment on VOC’s Breakfast Beat show but declined the opportunity.