Image credit: The Patriot
Zimbabwe’s Marriages Amendment Bill which was recently signed into law by President Emmerson Mnangagwa is now in full force and operational.
The passing of the Bill and its subsequent signing by the President followed amendments made to the proposed law by the Senate in February 2022.
As such, the payment of lobola before marriage under customary union, is now mandatory.
The law has a clause giving power marriage officers to ascertain whether a bride price was paid.
After the approval of the amendments by Senate in February 2022, the bill had to be sent back to the national assembly for it to consider the changes made to it before it was sent to President Mnangagwa.
The bill was initially passed in the national assembly in 2020 however, it was held up in senate after traditional leaders oppossed a clause that said 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.
Meanwhile, the issue regarding the payment of the bride price has over the years been a subject of contestation in Zimbabwe.
Some Zimbabwean men had been abusing the payment of bride price saying it was equal to buying women thereby were using it as a passport to abuse their wives.
Such people viewed calls for gender equality as unfair, solely on the basis that in Zimbabwe men are supposed to pay the bride price, so they thought it should be abolished.
Apparently, marriages officer Tinaye Chaza says there is great need for awareness campaigns to educate men that payment of bride price is not equal to buying women nor is it a passport for them to abuse their wives.
Chaza praised the government for passing the Marriages Bill into law, saying it is a way for people to value and appreciate the union of marriage.
He says gender equality is not bad, neither is it a way to pit men and women against each other, adding that it is all about having equal opportunities.
Gender equality is achieved when women, men, girls and boys have equal rights, conditions and opportunities, and the power to shape their own lives and contribute to the development of society.
Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world. It is a matter of equitable distribution of power, influence and resources in society.
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