The President of Senate Mabel Chinomona has implored the government to consider training of Chiefs into marriage offices citing that marriage officers are few in the country and not easily accessible by everyone, Zim Morning Post has learnt.
Speaking before Parliamentary Women Caucus meeting aimed at unpacking the marriage bill in Harare on Monday, Chinomona said marriage officers are few in the country and not easily accessible by everyone and chiefs are now marriage officers hence they should be taken through training.
“Marriage Officers are few in the country and not easily accessible by everyone and the chiefs who are now marriage officers should be taken through training,”she said.
Chinomona said the review of the marriage bill was an opportunity for the government to review the country’s repressive marriage laws as well as the step towards the elimination of child marriages.
“Marriage bill gives the country an opportunity to review, reflect and change repressive marriage laws.”
“Child marriage is included in gender inequality, Zimbabwe is committed to eliminate child marriages by 2030,” she said.
Speaking at the same juncture, Professor Lovemore Madhuku said the current marriage bill has problems dealing with unregistered marriages as it does not define what an unregistered customary marriage is and not being able to effectively outlaw child marriages.
“Marriages Bill has problems dealing with unregistered marriages, it does not define what an unregistered customary marriage is, it’s not strong in this case on effectively outlawing child marriages,” he said.
Currently, there are two distinct types of marriage that are legally recognized in Zimbabwe, Customary marriages, which are regulated by the Customary Marriages Act and these marriages are potentially polygamous, which means that husbands are allowed to marry more than one wife.
For a customary marriage to be valid, roora or lobola must have been paid or agreed upon, and the marriage must have been solemnized and registered by a magistrate or a chief.
There is also the Civil marriages, which are regulated by the Marriage Act.
These marriages are monogamous, which means that neither spouse can be married to anyone else while the marriage lasts. They are solemnized by magistrates and ministers of religion, and must be registered in a register kept by the Registrar-General.
Madhuku said most women without marriage certificates are recognized by the law as in partnership not in marriage.
“Research shows that most women without marriage certificates are majority, the law recognize them as in partnership not in marriages,” he said.
The government is currently reviewing the marriage bill and under clause 40 of the Bill, adult men and women who are not married to each other but who have lived together domestically will be regarded as partners in what will be known as a civil partnership.