Zimbabwe's Marriage Bill needs to be guided by moral values so as to restore families.

Zimbabwe's Marriage Bill needs to be guided by moral values so as to restore families.

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SMILE Zimbabwe Trust started this petition to Every Zimbabwean and

The petitioner and its supporters being Zimbabwean organisations and citizens,
funded by donations from morality supporters;

CONCERNED, that the essentiality of moral values in the marriage bill was not appreciated as a key solution to the increase in social vices, which include but are not limited to, promiscuous sexual behaviour, premarital sex, teenage sex and child sexual abuse, caused in part by the degeneration of our moral fabric which in turn greatly contributes to the breakdown of the family unit that has taken a toll on our society;

TROUBLED, that if our nation blindly follows some global ideologies especially in laws affecting the marriage institution, our traditional and moral beliefs and practices which are very rich in family building value, will be eroded,

CONVINCED that strong families build a strong nation,

MINDFUL; of the present harsh COVID fuelled economic climate and global culture push,

MOTIVATED, to play our part in strengthening the family and nation,

APPLAUDING the laws and policies which uphold the sanctity of marriage and so help bring some peace and order in society as they help preserve and build strong families,

CAUTIONING that as the global village has been fighting the increasing abuse, instead of fighting abuse in itself, it has often fought the marriage institution (maybe unconsciously), and this has seen individual nations in varying states of social chaos as abuse has continued to increase.

HIGHLIGHTING our nation’s sovereign right to charter a moral culture change as the gap that needs to be filled to reduce abuse and the social chaos bedevilling us,

CONCERNED that if we blindly follow the global culture, our plight will be catastrophic as a developing country as the morals which saw us maintaining a peace and order the west used to envy is trampled.

BESEECH the Parliament of Zimbabwe to exercise its constitutional objective to protect and foster the family, protect children from any form of abuse, and the constitutional values of human dignity and diversity in culture, religion and tradition on the following issues:
1. To fight abuse we have progressively fought the rules and laws which uphold the marriage institution which rules and laws are the foundation of stable families.
a. “Progressive” ideas that separate “sexual relations, babies, love and marriage” which are by nature a package deal, has normalised sex outside of marriage and so aided the increase in broken families, broken hearts and social vices.
b. The normalisation of sex outside of marriage i.e. adultery and fornication, has seen many hearts broken, increased unwanted pregnancies, teenage pregnancies, increased abortions, increased broken families, increased STD’s and these STD increased the risks of cancers and increased infertility etc.
c. Therefore we propose that the marriage bill and related laws and policies, recognize that fornication and adultery, like theft, are not a good thing at all.

2. The Criminal Code differentiates marriage and sex by the provision of an age of consent and so approves fornication and adultery.
a. Even social sciences have proven that fornication and adultery cause a ripple effect of problems which increase social chaos, breeding many broken hearts and broken homes - This provision of an age of consent to have sexual relations (outside of marriage) is no different to providing an age at which one can legally rob people.
b. This provision of an age of consent:
i. Not only legalizes fornication but also brings an anticipation to fornicate which destroys children and the just graduated from childhood young adults in tertiary institutions as they blindly follow the crowd in an immoral culture which has increased teenage parenting, abortion and expose children to heartbreaks which even consenting adults can hardly handle.
ii. It also authorises adultery, yet families are usually destroyed by adultery and adultery is clearly a form of abuse which undignifies the wronged party. This is contrary to the Constitution which requires our country to recognise the dignity and equality of all people.
c. Therefore we propose that:
i. The criminal code repeal the age of consent and recognise fornication and adultery as criminal offences.
ii. We propose an amendment of the Matrimonial Clauses Act so that adultery is considered as a cause of action for imprisonment without bail and / or pecuniary damages from the adulterous spouse & in the event of adultery ending in divorce, appropriate pecuniary compensation that recognizes this abuse and thus favours the wronged spouse.

3. Divorce and adultery.
a. While divorce is an inevitable end to some marriages, unlike death, this traumatic process that exposes society to violence and abuse is avoidable & even when faced with adultery, is often not the natural primary remedy for the wronged spouse.
b. However, especially in the current culture where sexual immorality has been normalized, lack of punishment by the law for adulterous behaviour has validated this abuse at the expense of the wronged spouse and building stable families. It negates the African practice that recognizes the evil of adultery as it requires the adulterous spouse to compensate the innocent one in the form of cattle whilst preserving the marriage if the parties want to do so.
c. Therefore we propose in recognising that in addition to the right to sue the person with a spouse is adulterous with, imprisonment without bail and / or pecuniary measures be required from the adulterous spouse, while measures to avail support systems to help reduce adultery and divorce are increased at grassroot level.

4. Divorce and materialism
a. Over the past 2 to 3 decades of social and economic “developments”, materialism has become a greater driving force to divorce than adultery, yet the marriage institution is not supposed to be driven by material possessions.
b. With all Zimbabwean marriages being out of communion of property, almost every person has to look out and try to protect themselves from material loss at the expense of dedicating that energy to sincere care of the children and family building.
c. Therefore we propose that marriages be in communion of property with the option of out of community being a condition requested by those getting married.

5. The colonial fallacy that customary marriage is not marriage was eradicated, but the current bill phases out customary marriage and relegates it to civil marriage as it allows the registration of a customary marriage even if the conditions to register their marriage by the bride’s family have not been met.
a. Though abused by some, the bride’s family determination of the bride price is a fundamental part of customary marriage. The option to opt for civil marriage has always been available and continues to be available, hence there is no need to tamper with customary marriage which is rooted in the fundamental of lobola as determined by the bride’s family.
b. The law taking away this fundamental customary requirement from the bride’s family relegates and begins to phase out the lobola culture which culture has more benefits compared to the disadvantages (disadvantages being mostly a result of lack of knowledge). It relegates customary marriage to civil marriage.
c. Therefore we propose that the requirements of a customary marriage to be left as they are and efforts be made to educate the family building intentions of the lobola culture and dispel the myths and misconceptions around it that have seen it being abused and causing abuse.

6. Section 5 preserves polygamous marriages. Section 4 provides for consent to marriage. Section 15 provides for registration of customary marriages. There is no provision for consent of the other spouses in the potentially polygamous to a subsequent marriage.
a. Failure to provide for a requirement that other spouses in a potentially polygamous marriage must consent to a subsequent marriage perpetuates patriarchy and male superiority over women and does not treat women as equal partners in the polygamous marriage.
b. An addition of another spouse to a marriage, albeit a potentially polygamous one, without the specific consent of preceding wives is a form abuse of women and it disrespects the inherent dignity of women. It is also a rejection of a cultural practice which required the husband to consult senior wife before taking a new spouse.
c. Therefore we propose amendment of section 15(2) of the Marriage bill so that it reads
i. A marriage officer in a customary law marriage must put to either of the parties to a proposed marriage or to the witnesses any question to the identity or conjugal status of the parties to the proposed marriage and to the existence of impediments to the marriage including whether the senior wives have consented to the marriage of the new spouse
ii. and an amendment of section 15 with the addition of a new sub section 5 which reads
iii. “The absence of a consent to the marriage of a new wife shall be a lawful impediment to the registration of the proposed polygamous marriage.

7. Because the immoral culture has seen increasing civil partnerships (kubika mapoto), there was a bill to accommodate civil partnerships in the “Marriage” bill. Yet African custom recognises the difference between unmarried people living together and people where roora has been paid.
a. Elevating civil partnerships to marriage endorses sex outside of marriage, abandoning our cultural recognition of this subtle evil which increases the abuse of women.
b. Recognising civil partnerships as marriage endorses sex outside of marriage, gives no real incentive to marry except for maybe status, thus trivializing the marriage institution. This subtle evil has greatly grown women abuse and hence child abuse in nations that have accepted it civil partnerships as a norm.
c. Therefore we propose that civil partnerships be not recognised as marriage, but rather, education and incentives be given for those who had fallen into this subtle evil, to marry.

8. The fact that many things were changed on this crucial bill which will shape our society for the next 50 years, shows that even its draft was biased to the “progressive” monopoly which helps symptoms of an immoral culture, but by no means addresses the root cause of the social vices which continue to increase as some of the proposed laws and policies are actually fighting the marriage institution.
a. This important piece of legislation was monopolized in its drafting, education and subsequent follow up on issues of contention which arose e.g. the push to recognize kubika mapoto in the “Marriage” bill, and the attempt to phase out lobola.
b. Passing such a bill to law would attempt to bring peace and order to the chaotic symptoms of the immoral culture while the heartbreaks and broken families continue to increase. The nature of marriage and sexuality summarized in the good word, “Let marriage be held in honour by all and the marriage bed be undefiled needs to be considered lest we fall headlong into the same societal challenges our western counterparts are choked in and with worse impact given that we are a developing nation.
c. Therefore we propose the marriage bill be revoked, extensive consultation had with all stakeholders to draft a marriage bill which is targeted at restoring peace and order through fighting abuse itself and restoring the marriage institution.

PETITIONERS PLEA AND PRAYER:
The petitioners beseech the Parliament of Zimbabwe to exercise its oversight function with regard to the Marriage Bill, recognising the impact of that passing such a biased bill to law will have on society.

WHEREFORE; We pray that your Honourable House will be pleased to take their case into favourable consideration, and grant any other such relief as it may deem fit.

AND

Your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Dated at Harare, 1st day of July 2020

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