Zimbabwe: Senate Debates Marriages Bill

Senior Reporter

The Senate is today expected to debate proposed amendments to the Marriages Bill after it was finally brought back to the House after its passage had stalled because of reservations raised by chiefs.

The Bill was yesterday read for the second time after it had been stuck at that stage for nearly a year.

Debate on the Bill was adjourned in the Senate eight months ago after differences emerged on Clause 16 which provides that payment or non-payment of a bride price could not be regarded as a barrier in solemnising marriage between two consenting adults if they satisfied other requirements of the law.

But traditional leaders, led by Chiefs Council president Fortune Charumbira, argued that payment of bride price was a hallmark of marriage in customary unions.

The new amendments that have been proposed will allow marriage officers, who include traditional leaders to solemnise customary unions in their own areas and to ask parties to a marriage whether or not lobola has been paid.

The amendments also provide that a marriage officer in a customary union cannot solemnise unions where couples have stayed together for less than five years.

In his second reading speech Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi thanked the chiefs for their contribution in coming up with the amendments.

He said he had to balance respect for traditional practices with constitutional rights and other international agreements Zimbabwe is party to.

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