Women's League

[New Column] ‘TILL DEATH DO US PART’: EXPLORING TYPES OF MARRIAGES IN ZIMBABWE

#EnthuseLife
 BONGIE MAPHOSA -CHUMA
In Zimbabwe shows that there is 84% of couples living together in unregistered marriages, some how we can say there is 84% of cohabiting people. This is high a number and it has made it difficult for courts to make the right decisions when these people want to part ways or worse more when death strikes and there are children involved. Marriage is perceived legal if it occurs between consenting adults. In this inaugural edition, we will focus on types of marriages we have in
Zimbabwe. Women usually are left disadvantaged after the death of their spouse or after divorce. In Zimbabwe, there are three types of marriages, namely Civil Marriages, Customary Registered Marriages and Customary Unregistered Marriages.

 

1) CIVIL MARRIAGE OR MONOGAMOUS MARRIAGE

In days gone by this marriage was known as  [Chapter 37]  now it called  [Chapter 5:11]. This marriage is presided by a  designated legal officer who can be a religious minister such as Priest, Pastor or a marriage officer at the magistrate’s court. Marrying a second wife or husband is strictly prohibited in this marriage, should you do so you will be committing an offence called bigamy. Bigamy is a serious offence that attracts a custodial sentence.

 

2) CUSTOMARY REGISTERED MARRIAGE OR POTENTIALLY POLYGAMOUS MARRIAGE

This type of marriage is described as a potentially polygamous one because it allows a man to marry more than one wife but does not allow the woman to marry more than one man because it is culturally unacceptable to do so. This marriage is registered under customary marriages [Chapter 5:07] formerly known as [Chapter 231]  or known as “umtshado wakoMsiteli” in IsiNdebele. A man in this marriage is not at all obliged to request the consent of his first wife or other wives should he decide to marry another wife.

 

3) UNREGISTERED CUSTOMARY LAW MARRIAGE

This type of marriage is limited to the cultural practice of payment of lobola by the man to the woman ‘s family,  Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association estimates that 70% of women in Zimbabwe are living under unregistered customary unions. Currently, the law only recognises this union as a marriage with regard to a few outstanding situations like making decisions on child protection. However if the concerned parties ‘divorce’, one will go away with what they brought into the marriage. This usually puts women at a serious disadvantage especially housewives who are considered to not have made any direct monetary contribution towards the purchase of the matrimonial property. Men tend to forget that the same housewife would have contributed immensely to raising the children, taking care of the home and all other chores that are not given monetary value.
In conclusion, if you are a woman with an unregistered marriage, please wake up and do the right thing don’ let him waste your time. Let’s continue the discussion in the comments section. You can also reach me on  bobochuma@gmail.com or use the SMS path on 0779918848!
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