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Married Men Can Have Small Houses: New Marriages Act

Facilitating marriage of children under 18 years is now a criminal offence

The new Marriages Act passed into law late in May by President Emmerson Mnangagwa has raised adultery concerns as lawyers argue it allows a man to have a small house.

The Act replaces the Marriages Act (Chapter 5:11) and Customary Marriages Act (Chapter 5:07).

In an interview with NewsDay on Thursday, Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association director Abigail Matsvayi Pasipanodya the law had some flaws despite bringing in a new view point.

“We are, however, concerned that unregistered customary law unions (kuroorana pachivanhu) are not fully recognised, that civil partnerships can co-exist with civil marriages with the effect of eroding the monogamous nature of civil marriages,” she said.

All marriages are entered into between a man and a woman above 18 years of age.

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Facilitating marriage of children under 18 years is now a criminal offence.

A lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said:

“The Act has brought some changes in that it has added marriages that were not initially recognised. It has brought in civil partnerships in that before, they were not supposed to be in any other relationship with any other person. That was taken as adultery. The new Act, however, brings a relief in adultery in that a person who is married can have another relationship outside their marriage.

“In a way, the new Act addresses another gap where if a man had a small house in case of death, that family, when it came to property sharing, was left out. The property-sharing process only catered for the legal spouse, so it’s (Act) trying to address a problem of catering for both, however, creating other issues again.”

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights applauded government for enacting the Marriages Act to protect children.

In its statement, ZLHR said although the enactment of this crucial law was laudable, there was significant work which remained to be done in the fight against the child marriage scourge.

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Marian Shamhu

Marian Shava is a full-time journalist and social media enthusiast
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