Hundreds of marriages in Zimbabwe ‘null’ as certificates issued after September 2022 cite invalid law

File photo dated 23/04/07 of wedding rings. Ministry of Justice officials have said that tests of a new online divorce application service have gone well.
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THE Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) has warned couples, who entered into holy matrimony through civil marriages, to urgently regularise their incorrectly captioned certificates as they cite an invalid law.

Following the introduction of the new Marriages Act chapter 5:17 back in 2022, the certificates which continued to be issued capture the old statute, chapter 5:11.

The old stationery brings about a legal technicality which needs correction by the Registrar of Marriages that falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage.

In a statement dated March 11, 2024, LSZ executive secretary, Edward Mapara, said under the old stationery, those who fail to comply with an order to have certificates fixed, would be in null and void unions.

“It has been brought to our attention that, despite the existence of the new Marriages Act, the stationery being used for civil marriages registered after the effective date, has not changed.

“Parties are therefore still being given marriage certificates which now incorrectly read ‘5:11’.

“We are advised that pending an overall rectifying instrument to save all such affected marriages, lawyers or individuals can take the certificate in question to Mr Mapala, the contact person at the Registrar’s Office, who will insert the correct Act and stamp the marriage certificate accordingly,” reads the notice.

Couples undergoing proceedings to terminate marriages are mostly warned to take seriously the advice to regularise the chapter 5:11 certificates to read chapter 5:17, or else their divorces won’t sail through.

“Members instructed in divorce proceedings should attend to rectification, as we are advised that the divorce cannot properly be founded on a null certificate.” – NewZim