HARARE: Zimbabwe has introduced a new lobola law which does not require the traditional bride price to have been paid before a marriage can be solemnized.

The new lobola law has been introduced after the government noted with concern that some parents and guardians had been exploiting the lobola system to extort money from the sons-in-law.

According to Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ziyambi Ziyambi, some guardians have been commodifying the tradition of lobola and some have even refused to consent to their children’s marriages until lobola is paid in full.

Speaking on the new law, Ziyambi Ziyambi told The Herald,

The transfer of marriage consideration (lobola) in our indigenous culture traditionally solidified bonds between families, but a disturbing trend has developed over time to commoditise or monetise the marriage relationship for material gain.

Some guardians of brides hold out for the highest possible gain for themselves, while others refuse consent to the formalisation of marriage until the last cent of the marriage consideration is paid.

This is why so many of our customary and non-customary marriages are unregistered. To solve this issue, the Bill will no longer require a customary marriage officer to satisfy himself or herself that there has been an agreement on the transfer of marriage consideration.

However, the Minister was careful to emphasize that the government was not, in fact, abolishing lobola with the new law. He insisted that if the two parties are willing to have lobola, then they will not be prohibited from doing so.