Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

The Marriage Bill of 2017 - A personal reflection on why it will not fly!

13 Jun 2019 at 11:06hrs | Views
I am sure most people have read the proposed Marriages Bill of 2017, which seeks to repeal and replace the existing Marriage Act (Chapter 5:11) & the Customary Marriages Act (Chapter 5:01).  My focus is on PART VI, OFFENCES AND MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS with specific reference to clause 40 civil partnerships of the Bill.   I would like to advocate for the deletion from the proposed Bill to items (4) A court determining whether a civil partnership exists is entitled to have regard to such matters, and to attach such weight to any matter, as may seem appropriate to the court in the circumstances of the case. AND (5) A civil partnership exists notwithstanding that one or both of the persons are legally married to someone else or are in another civil partnership marriage.

For starters, it is important to understand that Zimbabwe's constitution declares in her preamble that Zimbabwe acknowledges the Supreme God, although it is not clear which God, but I would advance the thought that since more than 75% of Zimbabweans are Christians, the God made reference in the constitution is the Mighty God whom we know through salvation of accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal saviour. With this premise, I would like to bring to our attention that we are Africans first and we have a culture. While acknowledging the Africaness of our being, when in Christ, we have a new culture, the Biblical culture. The Biblical culture becomes the Christian culture which forms the foundation of marriage that emanates from the declaration by God in Genesis 2: 18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (NIV) Subsequently, Proverbs 18: 22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favour from the Lord. (NKJV).  These scriptures are self explanatory.  They are not talking of multiple helpers or wives but in both cases, it speaks of singular helper suitable for him and a wife.  This is why the writer of Hebrews in Chapter 13 verse 4 says, "Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (NASB).  This is the Biblical culture that demands one wife for one man and verse-versa as is upheld in Chapter 5:11 of the Marriage Act. Why should someone adulterate this good foundation set forth in the Word of God? I would interrogate this further. Let us follow through the cultural issues first. I am not a town fellow per se. I only came to Bulawayo in 1981 so the greater part of my teenage was spent in rural Zvishavane, Midlands, where there is a total mixture of Shona and Ndebele natives. So I know very well what I am talking about.

The African culture from time-immemorial is known that our fore-fathers would have a small-house which in the new bill is termed civil partnership. My generation and that before me, would know that the concept of a small-house is derived from the English version of a mistress. Here we are in the 21st century wanting to out-do the British by legalising a historical sin from our fore-fathers. It was known from tradition that when a men is returning from a beer drink, on approaching a distance of 800 metres to a kilometre from his homestead, the man would sing aloud to announce his arrival in his homestead so that if there was another man in the vicinity of his territory, the man would have ample time to leave and disappear. This helped to prevent conflict and protected the institution of marriage. It was known, and it remained like that for years and the practice is still the same. This is the African culture. It does not need to be legalised. Its known and let us keep it that way period!

The proposed Marriage Bill of 2017 brings a different paradigm shifts to the Marriage Act. I am not here to attack the proposer of the Bill, but intend to interrogate the intention or motive behind the proposition.  From reading through the arguments, one of the weakest arguments is that of justice.... I intend to remove emotions from this article, but Psalm 11:3 states it clearly; The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?"... If the foundations be destroyed, what shall the righteous do? Consciousness is important in any human being. The proposer of this Marriage Bill 2017 has lost his/her Africaness.  In other words, s/he has lost consciousness. Similarly, the hard disc of his/her memory has been removed and a soft copy of the European memory inserted in him/her. This is annihilation of the personhood. Zimbabwe's literacy rate in the world is very respectable and for us to stoop so low and craft a bill to legalise a small-house in the name of Civil Partnership does not make sense.  It removes the consciousness in us. It projects a trans-cultural elite that removes us from our culture and depicts a people suffering from cultural schizophrenia.  The proposed Marriage Bill 2017 is a transverse too extreme and shows confusion in the proposer. I personally reject this bill particularly clause 40.  I read the bill with empathy and not with sympathy.  Reading with empathy here, I mean that I read the proposed Marriage Bill of 2017 within the context. My belief is that laws should be universal and not be crafted for a particular section of our people in the community. If I am in authority today, I should not use my privilege to please my girl-friend by enacting laws to please her. What happens tomorrow when I am not longer in that position? Such behaviour is very wrong. Legal experts have said that the proposed new law will legitimise ‘small houses' regardless of the marital status of the two partners in the relationship. PART VI, OFFENCES AND MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS clause 40 Civil partnerships states that in items (4) A court determining whether a civil partnership exists is entitled to have regard to such matters, and to attach such weight to any matter, as may seem appropriate to the court in the circumstances of the case. AND (5) A civil partnership exists notwithstanding that one or both of the persons are legally married to someone else or are in another civil partnership marriage. This is legalising the small house concept. A prominent lawyer Davison Kanokanga was cited recently as saying; "It doesn't matter that you are in a monogamous or a customary law marriage, you can enter into a civil partnership while married."

The effect is not only recognising and legitimising cohabitation, but it also recognises and legitimises adultery in the case where one has a monogamous marriage. The Section is saying ‘notwithstanding the fact that you have a monogamous marriage, you can have a civil partnership'.  This is where I question the conscience of the proposer. I have been a Christian for thirty-six years now and this kind of thinking brings the most difficult and the most problematic situations for me to explain this proposed Marriage Bill as a marriage officer and a minister of religion. Like I said earlier on, these are foundational issues. Genuinely, I do not know who proposed the bill. What I know is that Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs read it in parliament. But issues of foundation matters in people whom we elect as our Parliamentarian or Senatorial representatives. We do not elect Parliamentarians to stab us in the back by enacting and advocating for laws that are bereft of consciousness. This proposed Marriage Bill for me is a problematic Bill that emanate from foundational problems. Legalising and giving powers to a polygamous relationship is as good as converting so many eaglets to chickens. It is a power that has made promising people to become nonentities. It is a power that has turned so many people's progress into desert places.  A lot of people would have done better in their lives if not for the polygamous power. Biblically, polygamy originated from the line of the murderer called Cain. It did not start from the life of Seth.  It started from the line of Cain and not from the line of God himself.  So let us not start the legalization of civil partnerships through a member of parliament who may be himself/herself seeking justice for his/her situation. May The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, represented by Hon Minister Cde Kazembe Kazembe think twice before reading it in parliament for passing it without having removed clause 40. I humbly present my case. I am only advocating the preservation of the sanctity of the honourable institution of marriage as declared by Jehovah God.
In the Bible, the first recorded polygamist was a man called Lamech. Also, despite the loss of his birth right, Esau was a polygamist. God warned the kings of Israel never to be polygamous. When they disobeyed God their problems began, ranging from untimely death to disfavour and destruction.  This is what this Bill will bring to our society and communities.  Civil partnership is as good as POLYGAMY.   Why do I say so?  Polygamy is the practice of having more than one wife. There are over 40 polygamists in the Scriptures. All of them reaped evil consequences. God's original design is one man and one wife. The water of polygamy is bitter. It has polluted and darkened many people's destinies. Any unofficial wife or unofficial husband is polygamy as far as the Bible is concerned. To try and give it a better name and say civil partnership does not make it right.  There is nothing civil about it. What this Bill seeks to recognise is polygamy not civil marriages which we can say is cohabiting under a new name ‘civil partnership'. In African culture, we did not have such set-ups. It later came with colonialism and let the truth be told, since it came, lots of marriages have been destroyed while there has been an increase in numbers of those living together without proper marriage.

Civil partnership is a proposed EVIL FOUNDATION.  As a Pastor, I know full well that if one comes from a family where all the men used to have strange women, it is better for you to pray about it. Literally, all agenda of strange women is polygamy as far as the Bible is concerned and one needs to pray about it. If you come from a family where your forefathers used to have concubines, it was still polygamy as far as the Bible is concerned and you need to pray about it. If you are practising a monogamous home but you come from a polygamous home, you still need to pray because you are still under the bondage.  When you have great difficulty keeping a partner, check whether you are having the spirit of polygamy. If you are young and you go from one girl friend to another, you are already an eaglet of polygamy. If you come from a royal family where the king had so many wives, you are under the bondage of polygamy.

Civil partnership like I said is Polygamy.  Why is it that I am so much against this legalising of civil partnerships? It is the building ground of one of the wicked oppressions of Satan. What the proposer does not know is that what s/he is doing is Satanic and would breed anarchy in our community.  It is the origin of quarrels, rivalry, and envy, lack of peace, evil competition and struggle with all kinds of powers to make sure that the children are protected. It involves all kinds of anointing to make sure that the children survive, struggle with all kinds of powers for the virtue of the children not to be transferred or destroyed.  When there is polygamous power, it results in teenage depressions and teenage pregnancy. Ladies from such families sometimes suffer rapist attacks. Broken homes, premature death, prostitution, high death at pregnancy, low life expectancy, suicide, and domestic stress, all these are outflows of polygamy. Do we need more of this in Zimbabwe? Further, more, there is general human underdevelopment, poverty, transfer of demons and transfer of diseases, vagabond children, illegitimate children and all kinds of wickedness are results of polygamy. Do we need that to increase?  Like what someone once said, … If we uphold Christian values as we purport to be, if we uphold moral values as we say we do, then anything that is a departure from those values should not be condoned.

Finally, civil partnerships will strip family heads of their powers and dignity, as the Bill is biased more towards the extra-marital partners but it does not protect the traditionally married partner. The civil partnership conditions need to be reviewed and holistically looked into as it imports other foreign practices that are not traditionally ours particularly clause 40. In as much as it is mandatory for the alignment of the laws with the provisions of the Constitution, we need sanity and consciousness in the process. Since the Bill has not yet been gazetted and, it is assumed the draft Bill is available for discussion I propose that clause 40 be deleted from the proposed Bill. The rest of the other sections are full of sanity. I have no difficulty at law and the impetus for law reform with the contents of the other sections of the proposed Bill. I know the proposer of the Bill is not Satan, but is used by Satan. My Bible informs me in Ephesians 6: 12 that "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in the dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." This battle like what Albert Einstein said cannot be won at the level at which it has been created, but at a higher level. So I call all Christians to pray against the signing of this bill in this state. Your Excellence Sir, Cde President ED Mnangagwa thou shall not put pen to paper on this Bill it is current proposed state.  That is my plea to your person Sir! May the proposer of the Bill also re-look into his/her motives and in my informed wisdom, only hope that the person concerned is not himself living the life they intend to project and protect by legalising civil partnerships. May the Lord God of mercy intervene!

Pastor Tomson Dube is a pastor at Victory Fellowship Church in Bulawayo and the University Chaplain at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST). He writes this article in his own personal capacity as a leader and a voice to the nations. You can get hold of Pastor Tomson Dube via e-mail on

Source - Pastor Tomson Dube
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.