Lobola still required for customary union

The Claim: Claim: Lobola is no longer a requirement under the New Marriage Act.
The Verdict: claim verdict

Claim: Lobola is no longer a requirement under the New Marriage Act.

Verdict: Incorrect 

There have been several reports from various media platforms claiming that Lobola is no longer a requirement under the new Marriage Act, which came into effect on September 16, 2022.

Legal practitioner, Prisca Dube of the Zimbabwe Lawyers Human Rights, explained that the payment of Lobola depends on the type of marriage that one enters. 

She clarified that the Civil Marriage, which was predominantly used by the white people, does not require payment of Lobola because the culture of the white people does not recognise such. But the Official Registered Customary Marriage does require the payment of Lobola as per the African tradition.

“Nothing much has really changed. Lobola has always been optional when you are contracting in terms of the civil marriage. The civil marriage, in its design, was meant for white people, and in the white people culture there is no lobola to speak of,” Dube explained. 

“It is only us black people who do the cultural things of lobola and then later on decide to upgrade when they are having a civil marriage certificate. That then makes it look like one needs to first pay lobola in order to get a civil marriage certificate, which was never there in the law.”

Dube said the Official Registered Customary Marriage, recognises the culture of black African people hence it upholds the payment of lobola.

“But now, for the second one, the Official Registered Customary Marriage, there has always been that option that we are Africans and for one to then say there is a covenant of a marriage, there should be talks between the two families. Hence the issue of lobola being a requirement. So it does continue to be a requirement under this particular marriage,” she said.

“In essence, lobola has always been optional because it is dependent on the type of marriage certificate that one wants to contract under. Under the civil marriage, for example, an 18-year-old can decide to go to court and contract a civil marriage because lobola is not a requirement under that. But if they want to do it the cultural way, the African way, then there must be talks between the two families.”

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