Of Controversial Marriage Bill & Bishop Magaya Slamming “Promiscuous’ Parliamentarians

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Bishop Ancelimo Magaya. The name comes with a lot of controversies, some would say.

From taking care of victims of the 2008 political violence, championing the disappearance of activist Itai Dzamara, calling out ZANU PF & MDC for perpetrating violent politicking, reconciling a politically divided Zimbabwe through Churches Convergence on Peace outreaches, and upbraiding the church for not reprimanding acts of injustice and political misconducts, the Zimbabwe Divine Destiny leader has always stand firm in his clerical position.

Clearly, he appears to have no intentions of putting a halt to that agenda, at least for now, regardless of how much trouble that has soiled him in.

A story is told of how he slammed honourable members of the Zimbabwean parliament for bolstering a contentious clause in a proposed marriage law that would have passed extra-marital or unrecognised unions as legal unions last Thursday.

The incident happened during a memorial church service for six victims of the August 1, 2018 violence during which the military used live ammunition to disperse protesters who were angered by the slow announcement of election results by authorities in Central Harare. Bishop Magaya’s ZDD consortium, a Christian advocacy organisation that facilitates the Church’s visibility and audibility on matters of governance, organised the commemorating event.

Said Bishop Magaya:

“We expect parliamentarians to fear God, but I am shocked and embarrassed by this. How can you approve civil partnerships? Honestly, civil partnerships are being baptised. Parliamentarians you need Jesus, these may be Zanu PF or MDC members of parliament.”

The proposed new Marriage Bill has courted controversy, with various interpretations and questions from the public as to whether it would not undermine the family unit and the traditional marriage institution.

The fundamental bone of contention lays on the rendering that the new law would empower “small houses”, a colloquial term for extra-marital or unrecognised unions.

Section 40 of the Marriage Amendment Bill sought to legalise ‘Civil Partnerships’ as marriage for purposes of sharing property at the separation of partners.

It provides:

“A relationship between a man and a woman who—(a) are both over the age of eighteen years; and (b) have lived together without legally being married to each other; and (c) are not within the degrees of affinity or consanguinity as provided in section 7; and (d) having regard to all the circumstances of their relationship, have a relationship as a couple living together on a genuine domestic basis; shall be regarded as being in a civil partnership for the purposes of determining the rights and obligations of the parties on dissolution of the relationship and, for this purpose, sections 7 to 11 of the Matrimonial Causes Act [Chapter 5:13] shall mutatis mutandis apply on the dissolution of any such relationship.”

Making a case of how the bill speaks more to the promiscuity of the MPs, Bishop Magaya went as far as singling them as prostitutes and urged them to repent and also fix their own marriages, adding that if that was a problem, then they should not be leading thousands of people in their constituencies astray.

“We have a problem of being led by parliamentarians who have got several children outside wedlock, then they go ahead and support a law that will disenfranchise and disturb holy matrimony. We are saying maybe you can go and follow the customary and leave ours. Let us defend our (Chapter) 5.11.

If you are part of the promiscuous ones in here, leave fix your family and marriage first before you even think of fixing a whole constituency, and if you cannot just leave our constituency, you prostitute (mhombwe),” he said.

Bishop Magaya’s comments about the proposed Marriage bill came a few days after the cabinet withdrew the clause that provided for “civil partnership” saying such a union was foreign and not coherent with the country’s cultural and Christian values.

The withdrawal of the clause means Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi who is expected to steer the Bill in Parliament will now propose the deletion of the contentious provision at Committee stage.

Responding to questions on why Cabinet had approved the Section in the first place and the reason for removing it after a public outcry, Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo said Cabinet had seen that it was being misconstrued and saw it necessary to remove it.

In the same seam, Attorney-General Kumbirai Hodzi added that cabinet noted that civil partnerships were created in that draft Bill purely for purposes of distribution of the assets of the people involved in that union when they separate.

Another Attorney-General, Advocate Prince Machaya, said when two people decide to live together outside the law and expectation of society they should not expect protection from authorities because they did not accrue additional rights such as legitimately married persons.

He said it was only people who were legally married whose status at law should change and could enforce against each other upon dissolution of such union.

Women organisations also campaigned for the scrapping away of the clause, saying it does not adequately protect legally married women’s right to property.

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ImChris Charamba

ImChris Charamba

Head Storyteller at Enthuse Afrika. Balances literary writing with pop culture experience. Captivates raw, authentic sights, moments, feelings and conversations. Follow me on Twitter @ImChrisCharamba

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