Parly committees commence hearings on Marriages Bill

THREE Parliamentary Portfolio committees made up of seven teams will today commence public hearings on the Marriages Bill in Hwange and Victoria Falls among other areas countrywide.

The proposed Marriages Bill seeks to harmonise marriage laws in Zimbabwe and bring the governance of marriages under a single Act. The proposed law seeks to align the law with provisions of the Constitution. Parliament published a notice giving details of the public hearings that will be held from today to Friday in all the country’s provinces.

Seven teams made up of members of three Parliamentary committees: the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs; the Portfolio Committee on Women’s Affairs, Community Development and the Thematic Committee on Gender and Development are conducting the hearings.

“These public hearings provide an excellent opportunity for interested organisations and individual members of the public to make known to Members of Parliament, face to face, their views on this important Bill. 

“The public, interested groups and organisations are invited to attend these hearings. Written submissions and correspondences are also welcome,” reads part of the notice.

Parliament urged those who cannot attend the hearings to express their views through written representations not later than close of business on Friday.

According to a schedule released by Parliament, the seven teams will cover all the 10 provinces.  A hearing will be held at Lwendulu Hall in Hwange at 10AM today and at Chinotimba Hall in Victoria Falls at 2PM. Also today, another team will be at Insiza Community Hall in Filabusi at 10AM before meeting the Gwanda community at Gwanda Hall at 2PM.

Tomorrow, another team will be at Zaoga Church in Binga at 10AM and proceed to Tsholotsho Business Centre on Wednesday at 10AM. Another team will be at Minda High School in Matobo District at 9.30AM and Esikhoveni Hall in Umzingwane at 2PM. 

There will also be hearings at TMB Hall in Mangwe at 10AM and Madlambudzi Hall at 2PM as well as at Vhembe High School in Beitbridge at 1130AM on Wednesday.

On Friday, the team will be at the Large City Hall in Bulawayo at 10AM and at Beit Hall in Luveve suburb as well as at Stanley Square in Makokoba at 2PM.

Last month Cabinet decided that Section 40 of the Marriages Bill, which recognises “civil partnerships”, will be erased from the final draft Bill and said no extra rights should be given to cohabiting couples in the event of separation or death. The clause has ignited controversy, amid criticism that lawmakers were legislating against marriage.

Civil partnerships are defined in the bill as relationships between a man and a woman who are both above the age of 18, are not related and have a relationship as a couple living together. These partnerships are not considered to be marriages or the equivalent of a marriage but are solely acknowledged with the aim of “determining the rights and obligations of the parties on dissolution of the relationship.” — Chronicle