Marriage Bill allowing many wives, husbands gazetted

 Marriage Bill allowing many wives, husbands gazetted
Published: 22 July 2019 (206 Views)
Despite all these objections and remonstrations by women that "barika rakangonakira varume", Zimbabwean men have practiced polygamy, or plural marriage, as far back as pre-Independence days.

In fact, the country has produced Mushava Muchatiroto from Chipinge in Chinyamukwakwa village, who blissfully married 23 wives, and, when he died, left behind 76 children.
Johanne Marange, a Zimbabwean Christian leader, prophet, and founder of the Apostolic Church,  Muchabaya Ngomberume, had 17 happy wives and a big brood.
And polygamy cuts across all social strata of Zimbabwe.

The late national hero Eric Nyakudya Gwanzura, who was buried at the National Heroes Acre in 2013, had three wives.
Hon Criss remembers former  President Robert Mugabe saying in his eulogy there was nothing wrong with local men taking many wives as long as it was done openly. Mugabe told mourners at the burial of the veteran politician and liberation war icon, that he believed that polygamy was okay.

‘If you want them as your wives, just do it, it's okay," the nonagenarian said then.

Earlier, speaking at an Apostolic pilgrim ahead of the 2013 elections, Mugabe said: "Our Constitution allows polygamy. We will not force people into monogamous marriages. It's there in the Bible; Solomon wasn't only given wealth but many wives too. But we say no to gays! We will not listen to those advocating for inclusion of homosexual rights in the Constitution."
As Zimbabwe gazetted on Friday a new marriage bill that gives men and women the liberty to marry as many wives or husbands as they want — and without any consultations with their partners — some feel we could be going too far.

  Pfeesident silent about Marriages Bill

Despite this clamour for rejecting the bill, though, there are no clear signs that Mugabe's successor, the pfeesident — who has so far kept quiet on the issue — will reject it.
The pfeesident has allowed the gazetting of the controversial Marriages Bill, 2019, which repeals and replaces the current Customary Marriages Act [Chapter 5:07] and the Marriage Act [Chapter 5:11] despite protests from the public and media.
This means there will be one Act of Parliament governing marriages in Zimbabwe and the new Act will also update the law in line with the new Constitution.

The Bill heads to Parliament for debate by well-informed lawmakers, who have a task to weigh the cultural gap that still exists between Zimbabweans, who value polygamy as a part of their heritage, and Western countries that prohibit polygamy and instead treat monogamy and spousal equality as principles fundamental to their society.  

Hon Criss is chuffed that Zimbabwe is finally declaring polygamy legal as this has already been prevalent across society, from farmers to politicians.

  Practice widespread across

Polygamy is widely accepted across Zimbabwe and indeed Africa, former South African President Jacob Zuma  has six wives, and polygamy has long been legal under customary arrangements in the neighbouring country.

Kenya legalised polygamous unions for men in 2014 with overwhelming support from male lawmakers, as the majority leader argued that the biblical David and Solomon "never consulted anybody" when choosing multiple partners.
In Uganda, it is permissible and customary marriages are sealed with the traditional payment of bride price.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli actively encourages polygamy, citing the 10 million more women than men in his country. In February he told men to marry "two or more wives" to reduce the number of single women and it is also widespread  in many countries in the Horn of Africa and East Africa.

But for polygamy to work, wives must buy into the practice and the husband should have enough income to look after all of them and their children. Barika harisi ranana tubukai.

  Polygamy is nothing new
While previously prohibited under civil law, polygamous marriages were all along being performed under the nation's customary law.
Hon Criss understands as it is, an estimated 10 percent of Zimbabwean adult women are in polygamous marriages, often referred to as a "small house."

Now, these unions will now be recognised as "civil partnerships" under the new Marriages Bill. And even the wife's small house is also recognised.

According to the Bill, civil partnerships are a "relationship between a man and a woman who are both over the age of 18 years; and have lived together without legally being married to each other; and are not within the degrees of affinity or consanguinity."

Dissolution of civil partnerships
The law says having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis; "shall be regarded as being in a civil partnership for the purposes of determining the rights and obligations of the parties on dissolution of the relationship and, for this purpose, sections 7 to 11 of the Matrimonial Causes Act [Chapter 5:13] shall mutatis mutandis (having changed what needs to be changed) apply on the dissolution of any such relationship."

It says the circumstances referred to may include— "the duration of the relationship; the nature and extent of their common residence; whether a sexual relationship exists; the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between them; the ownership, use and acquisition of their property; the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life; the care and support of children; the reputation and public aspects of the relationship."

The new Bill also say a court determining whether a civil partnership exists is entitled to have regard to such matters and to attach such weight to any matter, as may seem appropriate to the court in the circumstances of the case.
More importantly: "A civil partnership exists notwithstanding that one or both of the persons are legally married to someone else or are in another civil partnership."   

Hon Criss strongly believes financially secure men should marry multiple wives to prevent single motherhood and to ensure that children have fathers in their lives.
Men should go ahead and marry multiple wives like the biblical Solomon, who married many wives candidly.

Pfeesident must give assent
Hon Criss urges the pfeesident to sign this law legalising polygamy, despite criticism from women's groups. As long as you can sustain the wives, have them. Raising children in the absence of their fathers leads to serious social problems, including increasing numbers of families living on the streets.

Hon Criss knows that most Zimbabwean men have more than one wife. They don't want to do it openly.

Hypocrites opposing polygamy

Those opposing polygamy are hypocrites, and some of them are in several secret relationships. Hon Criss is fully behind the call for polygamy, but only for those able to support such families.

Whether we like it or not, there is a strange paradigm shift that has been taking place on the matrimonial scene of late, with modern and independent women increasingly electing to become second wives.

Hon Criss knows of several independent women, some in top government jobs, with their own career and money, who happily choose to be second wives.

Everyone assumes that being a co-wife or second wife to a man is something a desperate woman does, but that is the highest grade of horse manure Hon Criss has ever heard.

In fact, most people believe that polygamy was invented by men so they could have more sex, and that women get nothing out of it, and in fact spend their time alone and crying when their man is at the other wife's house. This is balderdash.

One independent woman argued "polygamy is in fact the perfect solution for a career-driven woman, a woman who does not want to sacrifice her life for a man, who has no delusions about her capabilities to be the submissive, subdued and a domesticated superstar that most first wives aspire to be."

An ambitious woman whose career and ambitions comes first, but because she needs the security that comes with having a husband and does not really want the responsibility of being a wife, she chooses to be a second wife.

New Zacc must fight graft without fear, favour
Hon Criss would like to welcome the new Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), which he will give proof of the doubt, but knows its doomed to fail given that it woefully lacks adequate and competent staff (there are commissioners installed there purely over their boot-licking dexterity), we won't mention names; lack of enabling legislation, or a budget. Infact, some of the commissioners talk too much.

Hon Criss will give the newly-constituted Zacc carte blanche to do its job, but on a serious note, the commission must watch out not to be used as a tool to repress political rivals and members of the opposition or allowing previous government officials to be become targets of Zany faction-driven investigations.

The new Zacc must have absolute independence from the executive, receive adequate budgetary support to investigate venal officials, and have clear procedures for forwarding cases of corruption for prosecution by the relevant judicial authorities.

- dailynews

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