Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

No grace period on new marriage certificates

By Lloyd Gumbo

THE Registrar-General’s Office insists it will not extend the grace period for the transition from old marriage certificates to new ones. Marriage officers have been urged to collect the new documents at the RG’s offices countrywide to avoid inconveniencing couples intending to wed.

Mugabe's trusted election rigger: Registra General Tobaiwa Mudede (in glasses)
Mugabe's trusted election rigger: Registra General Tobaiwa Mudede (in glasses)

Several weddings were called off since the unveiling of the new document last week.

Some marriage officers have called for the extension of the deadline saying the new arrangement inconvenienced them. But in an interview yesterday, head of marriages in the Registrar-General’s Office Mr Gorden Tsuro said it was up to marriage officers to collect the new certificates that have since been disbursed to all provinces.

“We cannot treat marriage officers differently. We want everyone to follow the new arrangement by using the new certificates. Some of the marriage officers who had weddings and have weddings in the immediate future are the ones who were first to come and collect the new certificates.

“We have the certificates in stock and we keep getting consignments on a daily basis so it is up to the marriage officers to come and collect them,” Mr Tsuro said. Unveiling the new marriage certificate last week, Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede said the highly securitised document was meant to curb marriages of convenience.

He said they could not give a grace period as this will allow bogus marriage officers to continue issuing counterfeit marriage certificates. Those who defy the new arrangement, Mudede said, risked being jailed.

For marriage officers to collect the new certificates, Mudede said they are expected to produce practising certificates and a letter of confirmation from their head of denomination. He said the requirement was meant to weed out pseudo marriage officers.

The new document has a watermark, provision for passport size photos of the groom and the bride and their thumb prints. It also has space for space for full names and national identity numbers for witnesses and marriage officer’s date stamp.

In separate interviews, marriage officers confirmed the new documents were available, but it would have been ideal if the RG’s Office extended the grace period. They said failure to extend the deadline will inconvenience most weddings because of imminent logistical problems especially for those who stay far from the collection centres.

Chairperson of the Heads of Christian Denominations and founder of Word of Life International Ministries, Dr Goodwill Shana, said the deadline made it difficult for some marriage officers to collect the new certificates before scheduled weddings.

“It would have been proper if we had one-on-one consultations between the Registrar-General’s Office and Heads of Christian Denominations. We obviously would have wanted some time for the new certificates to be operational considering other logistical constraints,” Dr Shana said.

He, however, hailed the RG’s Office for confronting marriages of convenience head-on. He said they expected all marriage officers to comply with the law on new certificates. Zimbabwe Catholic Bishop’s Conference secretary-general, Bishop Frederick Chiromba, said the new certificates had complicated things.

“We feel its creating more work and inconveniences for marrying couples and marriage officers as they are now expected to produce passport size photos and finger prints. We understand that the intention is to fight marriages of convenience but one would hope to see these things go when the situation normalises.”

Most marriage officers, Bishop Chiromba said, would have wanted more time for the transition from the old certificates. He said announcements of such changes were supposed to be made through the Government Gazette. He said the intention to fight marriages of convenience was welcome, though it was not supposed to create more complications.

Reverend Simon Mutongi Jena of Chitungwiza Baptist Church said the new marriage certificate will curb marriages of convenience. He said the deadline had made it difficult for some marriage officers to comply with the new arrangements. The Herald