Marriages Act in Zimbabwe

Marriages Act Chapter 5.15 is the new law regulating all marriages in Zimbabwe. It was made into law on the 27th of May 2022.

Background

To consolidate the laws relating to marriages; to provide for the recognition and registration of customary law unions; to provide for the recognition of civil partnerships; to amend the Child Abduction Act [Chapter 5:05], the Children’s Act [Chapter 5:06], the Guardianship of Minors Act [Chapter 5:08], the Maintenance Act [Chapter 5:09], the Matrimonial Causes Act [Chapter 5:13], the General Law Amendment Act [Chapter 8:07], and the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23]; to repeal the Customary Marriages Act [Chapter 5:07] and the Marriage Act [Chapter 5:11]; and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing.[1]

Age of Marriage

  • The minimum age of marriage is 18 years for both girls and boys. It is a crime to marry off a child, and anyone involved in that will be prosecuted. It is a substantial crime if the parents or guardians are involved.[2]

Consent

  • There must be free and full consent of anyone wanting to get married

Types of Marriages

  • A civil marriage is a monogamous marriage between a man and a woman
  • A registered customary marriage is potentially polygamous and done according to customary rites
  • A qualified marriage is a union contrACTed according to religious rites which is not registrable as civil or customary marriage and is potentially polygamous

A registered customary law marriage may be converted to a civil marriage

Unregistered Customary Law Unions (Kubvisirana Pfuma)

  • Unregistered customary law unions are not recognised marriages
  • Unions contrACTed after the new ACT must register within 3 (Three) months of the date of the union
  • However, unions that existed before this ACT must be registered within 12 (Twelve) months
  • Failure to register does not invalidate the union, guardianship, custody and the rights of succession of children in such a marriage (limited recognition)

Civil Partnership (Kubika Mapoto)

  • It is not a marriage but recognised ONLY for purposes of property sharing. It is a relationship of a man and a woman above the age of 18 years living together on a genuine domestic basis. It can co-exist with any other marriage including a civil marriage

Equal Status of All Marriages

  • All marriages are equal, there is no marriage superior than the other

Lobola

  • For customary law marriages the agreement relating to lobola or marriage consideration is necessary. Customary law formalities are a prerequisite.

Equal Rights

  • Parties to a marriage have equal rights and obligations during the subsistence of the marriage and at its dissolution

Marriages Officers

  • Magistrates
  • Ministers of religion
  • Chiefs (they solemnise customary marriages)
  • Heads of embassies

Divorce Law (Matrimonial Causes Act)

  • The law on divorce applies to all types of marriages and civil partnerships, but does not apply to unregistered customary law unions


References

  1. [1], Veritas Zimbabwe, Published: 27 May, 2022, Accessed: 17 June, 2022
  2. [2], CGTN Africa, Published: 28 May, 2022, Accessed: 17 May, 2022