Mjolo Law: Govt Cancels Lobola
21 November 2023
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Government Cancels Mandatory Lobola Requirement in New Marriages Act.

The government has abolished the mandatory lobola requirement for marriage, marking a departure from traditional norms. Under the New Marriages Act, men now have the option to pay lobola as a moral decision rather than a legal obligation.

The announcement came during a recent interactive public legal awareness meeting in Masvingo Province, where the main provisions of the newly enacted Act were discussed. Marriage, deeply rooted in African culture, has undergone a transformation with this change.

Ms. Netsai Zvakasikwa, the director of the Law Development Commission (LDC), clarified that while the government recognizes the moral values and cultural customs associated with marriages, lobola payment is no longer mandatory. This decision has sparked concerns among some traditional leaders who view it as a potential threat to Zimbabwe’s prevailing marriage culture.

Addressing these concerns, Mrs. Zvakasikwa emphasized that the LDC aims to dispel speculations, stating, “We are not advocating that you ignore the required ‘roora’ payment to comply with the Act. Though the act’s provisions stipulate that it is no longer required, do it because it is part of our culture.”

LDC deputy chair, Mr. Rex Shana, added that chiefs will soon be designated to officiate customary marriages within their respective jurisdictions. This move aims to decentralize the marriage solemnization process, reducing the need for villagers to travel to cities.

Mr. Shana outlined some of the new obligations introduced by the Act, including verifying that the couple getting married is at least eighteen years old and ensuring they are not closely related. Notably, cousins by birth are prohibited from marrying, emphasizing the Act’s commitment to aligning with evolving societal norms.

The government’s decision signifies a nuanced approach, balancing cultural heritage with contemporary values, as Zimbabweans navigate the evolving landscape of marriage laws.- Agencies