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Canisius Mushibwe

Custom and law crash as Zimbabweans fail to resolve amendment of a bill on ‘bride price’ (Lobola). 

A groom negotiating the bride price

The government is considering to invoke provisions of the law to settle differences between Zimbabwe’s National Assembly and Senate if a marriages amendment bill is not resolved before the current session of parliament is done.

The Bill was introduced in the National Assembly last year but has stalled because of disagreements between the government and traditional leaders, on a clause related to the payment of lobola. 

Lobola is an act of the groom paying with monetary value, the bride’s family in appreciation of how they raised her up. This is normally through exchange of gifts or money as requested by the brides family.

Some perceive this act as outdated because it may at times prevent a couple from getting married if a groom fails to pay the lobola and usually can take years to complete the payments demanded.

While some think this is more if not less the buying of a woman, the argument against the practice is the sense that it gives men some leverage and an upper hand in the union.

Debate on the Bill resumed five months ago and has made no progress. Finding common ground on Clause 16 of the amendment, which states that  payment of lobola should not be a barrier for two consenting adults within the framework of the law to get married has proved to be elusive.

This has left a bad test among the traditional leaders, because the bride price is considered sacred in customary unions.

Image Courtesy /Zimbabwe Times/

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Canisius Mushibwe

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