Lobola payment, optional: New Marriages Act

Director of the Law Development Commission (LDC), Ms Netsai Zvakasikwa

MEN can now pay lobola only if they want to as a bride price is now a moral decision rather than a mandated legal necessity under the New Marriages Act.

This emerged during a recent interactive public legal awareness meeting aimed at delving into the main provisions of the recently enacted Act, in Masvingo Province.

Marriage, in the African culture, is a fundamental institution that plays a significant role in society.

The director of the Law Development Commission (LDC), Ms Netsai Zvakasikwa, said although the Government acknowledges moral values and cultural customs surrounding marriages, lobola payment is no longer obligatory.

Mrs Zvakasikwa said the LDC is focused on unravelling speculations around the issue since some traditional leaders see it as an imminent threat to Zimbabwe’s prevalent marriage culture.

“Chiefs have expressed disapproval of the Civil Marriages Act provision stating that ‘roora’ consideration is no longer a requirement. However, as indigenous Zimbabweans, we are attempting to make it clear that we did not create the civil marriage system; rather, we inherited it.”

She reiterated that people should continue adhering to their traditional laws.

“As a result, we are continuing the civil marriage tradition, much as our former colonisers did, though our values and customs still emanate from Zimbabwe. We are not advocating that you ignore the required ‘roora’ payment in order to comply with the Act. Though the act’s provisions stipulate that it is no longer required, do it because it is part of our culture.”

In that regard, LDC deputy chair, Mr Rex Shana said: “Chiefs will soon be designated to officiate customary marriages within their respective jurisdictions following the new requirements.” Mr Shana said villagers will no longer need to travel to cities to solemnise marriages.

“According to the recently passed statute, chiefs are awaiting induction. We are not abolishing their customs; however, the Act has introduced new obligations, such as verifying that the couple getting married is at least eighteen years old and that they are unrelated in any way, meaning that a brother cannot wed a sister or a cousin. Cousins by birth cannot get married,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the Chiefs of Masvingo province, Mr Adnos Chikomo said: “The people’s cooperation would be crucial to carrying out the duties necessary to preserve the customary laws,” adding that: “The chiefs have been entrusted with a tremendous responsibility.”

The LDC is conducting nationwide legal awareness meetings on the Marriages Act [Chapter 5:17] enlightening communities about the new law and its applicability to them.

This came after the Ministry of Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs noted numerous misinformation and misconceptions surrounding the Marriages Act.


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