Payment of bride price will no longer be regarded as a barrier in solemnising marriage between two consenting adults if they satisfy other requirements of the law, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said Government had noted that some guardians were commodifying the institution of marriage and were sometimes withholding their consent until the full bride price had been paid.
Minister Ziyambi said this on Wednesday while presenting the Marriages Bill in the Senate, which went through the National Assembly last week.
“The transfer of marriage consideration (lobola) in our indigenous culture traditionally solidified bonds between families, but a disturbing trend has developed over time to commoditise or monetise the marriage relationship for material gain,” he said.
“Some guardians of brides hold out for the highest possible gain for themselves, while others refuse consent to the formalisation of marriage until the last cent of the marriage consideration is paid.
“This is why so many of our customary and non-customary marriages are unregistered. To solve this issue, the Bill will no longer require a customary marriage officer to satisfy himself or herself that there has been an agreement on the transfer of marriage consideration.”
Minister Ziyambi said the Bill did not seek to abolish lobola.
“If the parties do agree on the transfer of such consideration the Registrar (of Marriage) is under obligation to record it when registering the marriage to minimise disputes about the terms of such agreements,” he said.
Minister Ziyambi said the Bill sought to protect children borne out of unregistered customary law unions when one or both of them contracted a registered marriage with another person.
He said it was for that reason that Government came up with a civil partnership provision, which he said was introduced in good faith, but had since been rejected at the instigation of some religious groups who felt it encouraged “small houses,” a colloquial term for extra-marital or unrecognised unions.