Marry or burn: Bu­rundi goes all moral, but Mus­lims are not amused

The East African - - OPINION -

Un­mar­ried Bu­run­di­ans only have slightly more than a month to marry or face the law! The Bu­rundi au­thor­i­ties has given cou­ples who are not mar­ried of­fi­cially un­til the end of the year to le­galise their re­la­tion­ships through church or state regis­tra­tion. In May, Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza signed a new law that the gov­ern­ment says will help pro­tect women and create a more moral so­ci­ety.

The gov­ern­ment in­sists a le­gal doc­u­ment recog­nis­ing a mar­riage helps pro­tect women and their chil­dren, es­pe­cially when it comes to is­sues such as in­her­i­tance. How­ever, oth­ers say the new mar­riage law in­fringes on peo­ple’s re­li­gious be­liefs, cus­toms and prac­tices. For in­stance, Bu­rundi has many Mus­lims who will now only be al­lowed to reg­is­ter one wife. Is­lam al­lows men to marry up to four wives.

No pay­ing for mar­riage in Zim­babwe, says lawyer

And in Zim­babwe, a woman has filed a case in court chal­leng­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of the prac­tice of pay­ing lobola (bride price), say­ing it re­duces women to mere “as­sets” that are open for abuse. Al­ter­na­tively, Pric­cilar Venge­sai, a for­mer Chi­tung­wiza mu­nic­i­pal­ity cham­ber sec­re­tary, says cou­ples should be al­lowed to live to­gether as hus­band and wife with­out be­ing com­pelled to pay bride price, or lobola should be paid to both fam­i­lies.

The lawyer con­tends that women’s rights to dig­nity, equal­ity and non-dis­crim­i­na­tion were at stake and that the court should be quick to de­clare the cus­tom­ary prac­tice un­con­sti­tu­tional.

Com­rade Bob is not mak­ing a grace­ful exit

Still in Zim­babwe, Presi dent Robert Mu­gabe’s wife, Grace, could be­come the fourth woman pres­i­dent in Africa, if the Zanu-pf party gives her a green light in De­cem­ber. Her 93-year old hus­band has sacked vice-pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa — who was in line for suc­ces­sion—to pave way for the 52-year-old Grace.

The ex­pul­sion of Mr Mnan­gagwa followed calls for the rul­ing Zanu-pf to change its struc­tures to al­low the ap­point­ment of a woman vice-pres­i­dent, who will be the sec­ond-in-com­mand. Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe had in the past in­sisted that he will not hand over power to his wife, but the First Lady at the week­end said there was noth­ing wrong with her tak­ing over.

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