Lobola still nec­es­sary?

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

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

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