University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Professor Lovemore Madhuku has castigated the recently gazetted Marriages Act as conflicted and a half-baked piece of legislation.
By Marshall Bwanya
Speaking at the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus meeting in Harare yesterday, Professor Madhuku said the bill presented new half-baked statutes that produced problematic errors.
“New things in the bill are child marriages, chief as marriage officers, new position of unregistered customary of marriage and outlawing of criminalization of deliberate transmission of HIV.
“Chiefs are now marriage officers but are being set to commit offenses because law is creating offenses for marriage officers, because mostly Chiefs are not chosen based on any other qualification,” he said.
Madhuku reiterated that some Chiefs were of advanced age and could be easily cheated on issues of age forgery, as its difficult for Chiefs to confirm whether one is a minor or not.
He further noted the new marriage bill was sidelining and marginalising other religious communities such as Muslims and Hindus.
“The marriage bill is silent on religious marriages, for example in South Africa they have a separate law for marriages,” he said.
Professor Madhuku also castigated the new bill for failing to define when marriage has taken place in an unregistered customary law, whether is it when lobola has been paid or when there has been a ceremony.
This lack of clarification makes it difficult to curb or prohibit child marriage outside formal marriages.
“Minors are allowed to consent to sex at sixteen but not allowed to marry, that issue of consent is not in the bill but came there, but there is no one with the stamina to change age of consent,” he said.