Azhar Vadi | Cii News | 07 February 2013
The South African National Halaal Authority (Sanha) has responded to the criticism leveled at the organisation following a public email entitled “TANSTAAFL”. The newsletter, published in its entirety below, was released following a public announcement by the Jamiatul Ulama Kwazulu-Natal (Council of Muslim Theologians) citing the termination of their halaal certification at 28 food producing outlets. The organisation had been rendering this service, without cost, for a period of five years.
The newsletter issued by Sanha, which is one of South Africa’s largest halaal certifying bodies, however left a bitter taste on the tongues of many. Social networkers commented and emails were sent back to the organisation expressing abhorrence at the way the document was scripted as well as the need for it, now that the Jamiatul Ulama Kwazulu-Natal (JUKZN) had ended its operations.
Moulana Muhammad Saeed Navlakhi, a spokesperson for Sanha, however challenged this view saying that, “The purpose and maqsad of this article is simply to explain and elucidate, not only to the membership of the ulama, but also to the consumers and the industry, that there is a tangible cost to the service (of halaal certification)… You cannot render this enormous task without sustainable income.”
Invoking Allah as a witness, Moulana Navlakhi emphasised that there was no intention to denigrate or undermine the Jamiatul Ulama or any ulama fraternity.
Cii Radio presenter and host, Ebrahim Gangat, did not accept the explanation provided, resulting in Moulana Navlakhi clarifying that it was a matter of perception. “You can make one statement and people can have various perceptions that come out of there…Let’s take a typical example: Some people, and you know who I’m referring to on your radio station, have a perception that halaal certification is absolutely nonsense. It’s simply a money making exercise and all these organisations, without exception, are all ‘scholars for dollars’. They do what they do purely for money. I can cite various examples where people have certain perceptions.”
He added, “We openly say, that if to some people our statement appeared differently, like to yourself, (Ebrahim Gangat) we say sorry. But really our intention was very clear and is very clear on the matter.”
Gangat then drew an analogy for Moulana Navlakhi. “You people (Sanha) have always been complaining that you are the victim of the various writings of Moulana A.S. Desai of The Majlis. You now remind me of the behavioural patterns of the Zionist. Let me explain why. They have been through the holocaust and what (are) they are doing to the Palestinians today? So if you are on the receiving end of such mail on a regular basis, and what I wanted to say to you earlier. You see you have a line here. Look how you write, if it is you who have wrote this and you are the author of it; ‘The spin about the lack of professional manpower’, which you have now emboldened, you made it more dark, this is the reason they have given, ‘lacks credibility considering’… We don’t want to know that Moulana. That’s between yourself…”
At this point Moulana Navlakhi interjected without allowing Gangat to complete his point and question. The following seconds resulted in both guest and host trying to outshout each other with neither of the two giving in and ending with the cutting of the call to Moulana Navlakhi.
The full interview can heard here.
In a separate interview with Cii Radio News, Moulana Navlakhi dismissed the claim that the initial email sent out by them could be deemed hurtful to anyone at the JUKZN. “If there is anything that comes up against anybody and your name appears in the media in not a very positive light, people get a bit uncomfortable with it.”
He denied that Sanha felt triumphant about the failure of the JUKZN to maintain the halaal operation. “For us it’s major disappointment. Because it affects the whole service,” he said. Also resorting to analogy, Moulana Navlakhi said that if a pork sausage is found in a halaal certified butchery in Kwazulu-Natal or a pork casing is used in a sausage in Cape Town, it affects the broader service and not just the local certifying organisations.
“It gives a negative impression on the entire halaal certification service and the Muslim community as well. So there is huge disappointment.”
Moulana Navlakhi pointed out that there was confusion that arose from the JUKZN decision to halt the halaal inspection. “They (JUKZN) said they deliberated for months the closure of the department and they took a decision on the 9 December (2012). Imagine you are an industry manufacturing pies, they had one non-Muslim company in KZN that they certified. You establish a clientele. A halaal clientele. A clientele that wants Sanha certified or Jamiat KZN certified products. All of a sudden you receive a letter to say that as of today your certificate is withdrawn and you can no longer trade as halaal certified by Jamiat KZN. Can you imagine the ramifications to your business?”
In conclusion Moulana Navlakhi rejected the notion of comparing Sanha’s Flash News to The Majlis of Moulana A. S. Desai. “You can’t say that we are demonising people. We don’t call people Kaafirs (disbelievers), we don’t call them morons and we don’t call them idiots… Look at this article. Besides the one paragraph where we elucidated that it is not simply lack of professional people, it is ultimately the result. And yes it was a spin. You cannot say we are closing due to the (the lack of) professional manpower. So, our idea was purely to bring about the idea that without charging for the services that you render, it’s going to be impossible to sustain it.”
South African National Halaal Authority (SANHA)
A mnemonic for “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” Popularised by Nobel prize-winning economist Milton Friedman and the title of one of many books authored by him. Although many attribute the quotation to him it actually has its origins in the USA and to a lesser extent in Britain from the mid-19th century onwards by saloon owners through the concept of offering a no cost lunch to customers who purchased a drink. The expectation was that most patrons would buy more than one drink and that they would become loyal customers. The cost of the free lunch was hidden.
This concept accords with the economic principle described as “opportunity cost” which in simple terms means nothing in life is truly “free”. There is always some sort of cost involved. If one individual or group gets something at no cost, somebody else ends up paying for it. For example in our country a Municipality with great fervour introduced the provision of 108 kilo litres per annum free water for every resident. This was done by raising the cost of the supply to all users. So in effect the users of more than 108 kilo litres water carry the cost of the “free” water.
The announcement this week by the Jamiatul Ulama of KwaZulu Natal (JUKZN) of the demise of its Halaal Department and the abrupt termination of all certification is an apt demonstration of this principle in action. The spin about the “lack of professional manpower” lacks credibility considering that they had been in operation for 5 years and in fact were the pioneers of Halaal certification as far back as the 1970’s. It was down to the finance and lack of management thereof that has led them into this pitiful state. The resultant implosion affected about three dozen companies certified by them, not to mention the confusion caused by the sudden announcement without timeous withdrawal of advertising material on the premises and media.
The JUKZN Halaal Desk, set up some five years ago, announced with great temerity a free Halaal certification service in the deluded belief that this unique selling proposition would have industry beating a path to their door. They also believed that the costs of operations would be sustained by donations from certified plants and the Muslim community to their coffers. Neither industry nor the community are so naïve. Business success is dependent on them tapping into customer demands and providing quality products and services at competitive prices. The community too disapproves of being “taxed” additionally for their Halaal needs by industry which enjoys their custom and earns a profit from them.
To render a professional Halaal regulatory service SANHA maintains offices in the major cities with a dedicated professional management team of trained inspectors, administrators and supervisors based at many of the certified plants as well. Our inspectors travel hundreds of thousands of kilometres annually ensuring that the Halaal standards are maintained. Advisory service via our dedicated national Helpline and our consumer desk is constantly sustained. The current SANHA staff complement today stands at 145. This is funded by the professional service charges and levying of licensing fees to the plants certified. The fees are declared in the annual audited financial statements presented at public meetings and posted on our website.
So when next you are offered a free Halaal certification service that seems to be too good to be true, be extremely cautious for…
“there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”
Tags: Halaal, Haraam, Jamiatul Ulama KZN, ml ms navlakhi, Sanha