Lobola still necessary?
Women (CEDAW), the Sadc Protocol on Gender and Development and the Optional Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa. All these instruments call upon governments to eliminate discrimination against women and marriage is one of the issues where discrimination is prevalent.
By signing these instruments, Zimbabwe made a commitment to better the lives of women.
“Gender based violence is not just located in communities where lobola is paid. Some European countries have the highest rates of gender based violence and men there don’t pay lobola. I think to say paying lobola is a catalyst for gender based violence and oppression in a marriage is a simplistic way of looking at things,” said gender activist Ms Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga.
She said gender based violence is driven by other inequalities not necessarily imposed by the payment of lobola. “The payment of lobola is after all not a requirement for marriage. At law, you can actually choose whether or not you want lobola to be paid for you,” said Ms Misihairabwi-Mushonga.
She said gender based violence and other gender inequalities occur whether or not lobola has been paid.
“If we’re to be honest, we have to critically look at the whole institution of marriage. I’ve sat in churches where submission by a wife in a marriage is taught, whether lobola has been paid or not. I’ve also sat in churches where people are taught to treat their spouses as they would also want to be treated,” said Ms MisihairabwiMushonga.
The marriage framework in Zimbabwe comprises of Chapter 5:11: Marriage Act which is conducted at the Magistrate Court or in church by a registered marriage officer. It allows a man to have one wife at any given time. Only the High Court of Zimbabwe can dissolve this marriage.
There is also Chapter 5:07: Customary Marriages Act which is conducted at the Magistrate Court only. A man may have more than one wife and each wife will have their own marriage certificate. It is therefore a potentially polygamous marriage in the sense that a man can marry many wives. This marriage can be dissolved at either the High Court or Magistrate Court.
Finally is an unregistered customary law union which arises in a situation where a man pays lobola for his wife. A man may also pay lobola for many wives. At law, this union is given limited recognition because it is not registered. For purposes of inheritance, it is recognised as a marriage. The union is also recognised as a marriage for purposes of maintenance. This means that the customary law “wife” can claim maintenance from her customary law “husband” even at or after termination of the union. Similarly, the customary law “husband” can claim maintenance from his “wife”. This is in accordance with the Maintenance Act. — @ Yolisswa