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You don’t have to pay lobola anymore: New Marriages act surprises many Zimbabweans

Zimbabwe’s cultural foundation with regard to marriage has been hugely impacted following the unveiling of the recently enacted New Marriages Act which reshapes lobola payment.

During an interactive public legal awareness meeting held in Masvingo Province, it was revealed that paying bride price or lobola is no longer a legal mandate but a moral obligation of the parties involved according to the New Marriages Act.

Marriage, deeply embedded in African culture, holds a pivotal role in society. Netsai Zvakasikwa, the director of the Law Development Commission (LDC), emphasized that while the government respects moral values and cultural customs linked to marriage, lobola payment is no longer an obligatory requirement under the new legislation.

However, concerns have arisen, particularly among traditional leaders who perceive this shift as a potential threat to Zimbabwe’s prevailing marriage customs.

According to The Chronicle, Netsai Zvakasikwa clarified the Commission’s stance, highlighting that despite the Act’s provisions indicating the non-compulsory nature of lobola, adherence to traditional laws and customs remains essential.

Moreover, the Act introduces novel obligations, notably empowering chiefs to officiate customary marriages within their jurisdictions. This initiative aims to reduce the need for villagers to travel to urban areas for marriage solemnization. Rex Shana, LDC’s deputy chair, highlighted the Act’s requirements, emphasizing the prohibition of marriages between siblings or cousins by birth, promoting a clearer understanding of marital relationships.

Adnos Chikomo, speaking on behalf of the Chiefs of Masvingo province, stressed the necessity of people’s cooperation in upholding customary laws, underscoring the significant responsibility placed on chiefs in this evolving landscape.

The Law Development Commission is conducting nationwide legal awareness campaigns on the Marriages Act [Chapter 5:17], aiming to dispel misinformation and misconceptions. This initiative follows the Ministry of Justice, Legal, and Parliamentary Affairs’ observation of widespread misinformation surrounding the Act.

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