By Branton Matondo
A senior official from Zimbabwe Gender Commission has poured cold water to parents who are still in the practice of forcing their children into marriage for the sake of fighting hunger and poverty.
Zimbabwe Gender Commission (ZGC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Virginia Muwanigwa said lobola is not an anti poverty dose.
She made the remarks during a virtual meeting in the Midlands province saying most children are under abuse in Zimbabwe and it is common that many bride families are using dowry to evade the chains of bleak and poverty back home.
“There is clear abuse of the marital requirement. The family of the bride is now using lobola to fight poverty. Charges are often extraordinary which indicate a clear sign of lobola being taken as a capitalist tool,” said Muwanigwa.
She further cited that the issue of demanding high lobola is not in line with our Shona tradition which preaches lobola as a family uniter not a family divider.
She however elevated her statement to the male counterparts who deny paying lobola citing the issue of hardships should not use that as an advantage.
The law states that dowry can not stop people from engaging in matrimony that is when they have reached 21 years and above. Reports of men abusing women on the bases of women objectification through lobola have surged.
“It’s not your right to beat a woman on the basis of lobola payment. Its not an excuse also to intimidate and objectify your wife on that line of thinking,” she added.
Currently Zimbabwe is on the edge as most teenage girls have gone and some been forced into marriage due to various reasons, hunger included.
Since 2018 after the cyclone Idai in Manicaland and some parts of Masvingo and Mashonaland east, reports claim a number of school going children dropped school and went into marriage.
No clear statistical record available that can be used besides that of maternity registration process, and due to covid the focus had shifted in fighting the pandemic.