Byo Divorces Shoot Up
4 March 2024
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Bulawayo, Zimbabwe – The city of Bulawayo has witnessed an alarming increase in divorce applications, with a shocking 139 cases filed at the High Court before the end of February this year. According to the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), this trend underscores a worrying social phenomenon, as nine of these cases have already reached a conclusion.

This significant rise follows last year’s record of 658 divorces in Bulawayo, marking a concerning upward trajectory in marital dissolutions within the region. Nationwide, the figures are equally troubling, with divorces doubling to 2,735 cases in the past year from 1,351 in 2021, against 13,436 recorded marriages.

Statistics reveal that approximately 20 percent of Zimbabwean marriages are likely to end in divorce, a situation that experts find alarming given the negative repercussions on families and communities. The causes of these marital breakdowns are varied, ranging from infidelity and gender-based violence (GBV) to socio-economic pressures.

Social media misuse and communication breakdowns are also cited as critical factors contributing to the growing divorce rates across Zimbabwe. Ms. Sethulo Ncube, the regional director of the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA), points to GBV and a lack of commitment as primary reasons for marital failures.

Local lawyer Mr. Tinashe Runganga highlighted the clash of cultures as a significant driver of divorce. He emphasized the changing perceptions of divorce in African culture and tradition, where it was once considered taboo. “The intertwining of cultures and the inevitability of divorce in the modern world present new challenges to marital stability,” Mr. Runganga said.

Church leaders and family counselors echoed these sentiments, identifying infidelity, financial strife, lack of communication, and unresolved disputes as common causes. Dr. Rocky Moyo, a leader at the Council for Churches in Africa, also noted domestic abuse and a fundamental lack of understanding of marriage as contributing factors.

Mrs. Nonhlanhla Gwebu, a family counsellor, stressed that infidelity, domestic violence, and substance abuse often serve as the “final straw” leading to divorce. Meanwhile, psychologist Ms. Thandolwethu Mafu pointed to the evolving gender roles, with women increasingly becoming breadwinners, as a source of marital tension.

As Bulawayo grapples with this surge in divorce applications, community leaders, legal experts, and psychologists call for a deeper examination of the underlying issues. There is a consensus on the need for more robust support systems for couples and increased awareness about the complexities of marriage to stem this concerning trend.- State Media