Dr Priccilar Vengesai is a Zimbabwean lawyer and women rights activist. Dr Vengesai is known for petitioning the Constitutional Court, seeking to get lobola removed as a requirement for marriages. She argued that lobola (bride price) is the primary cause of gender inequality and a source of most of the problems that women face in marriages.
Priccilar Vengesai got divorced from a previous marriage on 14 June 2012. As part of the divorce settlement, she was awarded Stand 430, Westwood.
On 8 December 2012, she married Tavonga Mufambi. On 5 December 2014, Vengesai issued a summons for divorce and ancillary relief. On 22 January 2015, her second husband filed his plea. He contested the divorce, saying the marriage had not broken down. He also claimed a share of stand Vengesai had gotten from her previous marriage. The husband's claim for a share in the stand was dismissed.
Vengesai has a child named Tanyaradzwa Mufambi with her second husband Tavonga Mufambi. She also has another child; Primal-Musara Lubombo from her first marriage.
Lobola Constitutional Court Challenge
On 1 November 2017, Vengesai approached the Constitutional Court challenging the constitutionality of the practice of paying lobola, saying it reduces women to mere “assets” that are open for abuse.
In her application, Vengesai argued that she once entered into marriages, but she later realised that her constitutional rights were being violated. She said she wanted to remarry as soon as the court determined her contestation.
Vengesai suggested that couples should be allowed to live together as husband and wife without being compelled to pay bride price. She said that if lobola should stay, it should be paid to both families. Vengesai listed Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Happyton Bonyongwe, Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya and Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Minister Nyasha Chikwinya as respondents in their official capacities.
Vengesai sought the Constitutional Court’s green light to file a direct constitutional application for the abolition of lobola in the country. One of the arguments Vengesai made in her application was that parents were now abusing the lobola practice for unjustified enrichment. She said:
"The original purpose and meaning of lobola has been fundamentally altered by the introduction of a cash economy in Zimbabwe, by urbanisation and by the breakthrough of agrarian communal ties. As a result, the original purposes of lobola have, in many cases, been subsumed by moths of greed and enrichment on the part of the brides’ families. In a nutshell, a woman is paid for simply because she is a woman and a husband pays for a wife because he is a man. This amounts to discrimination based on gender and sex."
The Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court requested Vengesai to withdraw the matter and do a factual investigation to prove the legal position of lobola in Zimbabwean marriages and allow the involvement of other women in the process. The most prominent criticism Vengesai got was based on the fact that lobola is not a prerequisite to marriage. In an interview after the Chief Justice's ruling, Vengesai said her challenge was based on the argument that lobola is a customary requirement that women cannot easily avoid and it would not be entirely theirs to choose whether to have it paid for them or not, but rather the family’s decision or the community’s.
- PRICCILAR MUFAMBI (nee VENGESAI) versus TAVONGA MUFAMBI, JSC, Published: No Date Given, Retrieved: April 29, 2021
- Daniel Nemukuyu, Woman wants lobola abolished, The Herald, Published: November 2, 2017, Retrieved: April 29, 2021
- Cyril Zenda, THE CASE OF THE ZIMBABWEAN LAWYER WHO WANTS LOBOLA (BRIDE PRICE) CULTURE BANNED, Fair Planet, Published: September 12, 2019, Retrieved: April 29, 2021