The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi told the National Assembly – during Question time– that the Marriage Bill is still under consideration in the Senate over insistence by Chiefs that lobola remains an essential part of every customary marriage, not an option. Hon. Ziyambi highlighted that making lobola mandatory is against international conventions that Zimbabwe ratified. It even contravenes the Constitution and legal age of majority.
Hon. Ziyambi has proposed replacing Clause 16(5) of the Bill with the following new sub clause:
- “(5) A marriage officer in a customary law marriage may put to either of the parties to a proposed marriage or to the witnesses any questions relevant to the identity of the parties to the proposed marriage, and to the agreements relating to marriage consideration (lobola or roora), if any, and to the existence of impediments to the marriage.
The Chiefs insisted the sub clause be amended to substitute “must” for “may” and further amended by the insertion of words making it clear that lobola remains a key part of customary marriages.
The Minister of Justice recommended that officials engage the Chiefs on this and other points in the Bill of that are of concern to traditional leaders to reach common ground.
The Marriages Bill seeks to replace the Customary Marriage Act [Chapter 5:07] and the Marriage Act [Chapter 5:11]. According to the Marriages Bill, issues of lobola payment cannot block a consenting couple from registering their marriage. The Bill also seeks to address the issue of child marriages. The Bill contains sorely needed provisions that penalise those responsible for child marriages.