Zimbabwean men can now pay roora/lobola only if they want to do so as a bride price is now a moral decision rather than a legal requirement under the New Marriages Act.
This was said by the director of the Law Development Commission (LDC), Netsai Zvakasikwa, during a recent interactive public legal awareness meeting aimed at clarifying the main provisions of the recently enacted Act, in Masvingo Province.
Zvakasikwa said that although the Government acknowledges moral values and cultural customs surrounding marriages, the payment of bride price is no longer obligatory. The Chronicle quoted Zvakasikwa as saying:
Chiefs have expressed disapproval of the Civil Marriages Act provision stating that “roora” consideration is no longer a requirement.
However, as indigenous Zimbabweans, we are attempting to make it clear that we did not create the civil marriage system; rather, we inherited it.
Some traditional leaders believe that the changes to marriage laws are a threat to Zimbabwe’s prevalent marriage culture where the payment of bride price is key.
Zvakasikwa said people should continue adhering to their traditional marriage practices. She said:
As a result, we are continuing the civil marriage tradition, much as our former colonisers did, though our values and customs still emanate from Zimbabwe.
We are not advocating that you ignore the required “roora” payment in order to comply with the Act.
Though the Act’s provisions stipulate that it is no longer required, do it because it is part of our culture.
LDC deputy chair, Rex Shana said soon, villagers will no longer need to travel to cities to solemnise marriages as traditional leaders will be designated to officiate customary marriages. He said:
Chiefs will soon be designated to officiate customary marriages within their respective jurisdictions following the new requirements.
According to the recently passed statute, chiefs are awaiting induction. We are not abolishing their customs; however, the Act has introduced new obligations, such as verifying that the couple getting married is at least eighteen years old and that they are unrelated in any way, meaning that a brother cannot wed a sister or a cousin. Cousins by birth cannot get married.
The LDC is conducting nationwide legal awareness meetings on the Marriages Act [Chapter 5:17] enlightening communities about the new law and its applicability to them.
LDC is responsible for conducting research, making recommendations, and providing legal advice to the government and other stakeholders on matters related to law and justice.
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