New marriage regs cause headaches

Less than three years after producing a new marriage register form, the Registry of Marriages has changed it again. This time the change is likely to create more problems for people who want to get married legally.

The new form, requiring passport-size photos of the spouses and their fingerprints, seem to be dictated by the immigration requirements of foreign governments. More stringent evidence is being demanded to prove that spouses who travel or migrate together are really married.

Along with this change, new regulations have been introduced to tighten up on immigration controls, which our government seems very keen on. For any marriage between a Zimbabwean and a non-Zimbabwean, both parties will now be required to produce a “non-marriage certificate” (which churches would call a certificate of freedom to marry) so as to prevent “marriages of convenience”.

The first sounds reasonable enough, but that depends on what proportion of people seeking a legal marriage will ever need to use their marriage certificate in this way. The second will make a legal marriage nearly impossible for the many people still struggling to prove they have renounced a citizenship they were never entitled to.

Most of these are descended from immigrants from Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. Now to marry someone of pure Zimbabwean descent (whatever that may be) they need to produce a certificate stating that they are not married from a government that never claimed any power over them or responsibility for them, of a country that in many cases they have never even visited.

For some reason, the Registrar-GeneralTobaiwaMudede included in his speech a fiery tirade about “Wapusa-Wapusa”. Does anything of this sort still exist? Did it ever? Bringing it up in this context seems to generate more heat than light and therefore obscured the main issues.

While correcting abuses is necessary and a meeting like this is a good way of launching a campaign to enforce the law more strictly, the impact was reduced by bringing in the issue of these new regulations in the same meeting. That also deprived the hearers of a chance to discuss and suggest improvements to the new regulations. This sounds like just another example of Zanu (PF) introducing hastily written and ill-prepared regulations. These regulations may be dealing with real problems, but the way they are introduced can create greater problems.

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