Zim Marriage Laws Revised, Child Marriages Outlawed
The Inter-Ministerial Task Force (IMT) on the alignment of laws to the constitution has revised marriage laws in order to curb child marriages which have been on the rise in Zimbabwe.
According to Tapiwa Chiwenga, the Deputy Director, Policy and Research in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs noted that section 20 of the Marriages Act which solemnizes marriage of a minor with consent of a guardian or the High court will be revised as it is unconstitutional in view of section 78 of the constitution.
“Section 21 on the marriage of minors without consent being voidable but not void, the section will be repelled as no marriage of a minor can never be considered void.
“Section 22 on prohibition of peasants under certain ages noted that a boy under 18 years and a girl under 16 years can marry with letter from minister, this section will be amended to anyone under 18 will not be capable of contacting a marriage,” noted Chiwenga.
Kingstone Magaya, a lawyer in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs said the case of Loveness Mudzuru vs Minister of Justice dealt with the issue of age in line with marriage.
“The case was important as it helped the judiciary to locate on the centre of the alignment process. Judiciary actuates and breathes life into these provisions,” said Magaya.
He added that from 20 January 2016, no person, male or female may enter into a marriage including an unregistered customary law union or religious before attaining the age of 18 years.
Projects Coordinator for the Centre for Applied Legal Research (CARL), Aminata ChatIra Ruwodo said the inter-ministerial task force has provided both technical and financial support for the review of marriage laws.
“In terms of technical support, we have provided a discussion paper which identifies the gaps in the marriage laws to the extent that they are inconsistent to the constitution as well as the ruling in the Mudzuru case,
“We have also provided support by drafting a marriages bill, it will be used for the holding of stakeholder consultation workshops,” said Ruwodo.