By Staff Reporter
The Registra General in Zimbabwe has announced that marriages that were solemnised by at least 716 marriage officers that have gone underground face cancellation while mass weddings have been banned.
Addressing journalists in Harare on Monday Tobaiwa Mudede said the marriage officers had gone underground after his office introduced a new register to flush out bogus officers. He said those who had failed to turn up could be fake and the marriages they solemnised in the past would be cancelled.
Mudede said his office had also banned mass weddings and that marriage officers would be banned from upgrading marriages. He said since the introduction of the new marriage register in March this year, his office had not received any reports of marriages of convenience.
“A total of 1 253 marriage registers have been issued to marriage officers so far, yet we had 1 966 marriage officers in our marriage register. The figures speak for themselves.
“It means the difference might have been pseudo marriage officers. We still challenge them to come forward if they are pure (marriage) officers to be free from this blemish. As for now, no one has come out in the open.”
The RG’s office unveiled new highly securitised marriage certificates and measures to curb marriages of convenience early this year. The new marriage certificates are computerised and serialised to curb multiple marriages, marriages of convenience and immigration fraud.
On mass weddings, Mudede said: “This happened mainly in churches whereby you would find 20 couples wedding at the same time. This is treacherous because one should not issue many marriage certificates at the same time.
“Many reverends were just doing it for monetary benefits and this should stop.”He said reverends and pastors had no power to upgrade marriages.
“There are two statutes in the country on marriages. One statute governs civil marriages and this type of marriage is monogamous, popularly known as Chapter 37 and the other statute governs customary marriages (polygamous),” he said.
“What has been happening is that reverends had been upgrading those married under the customary marriage to change into a civil marriage. No one has the power to upgrade what has been passed by Parliament and reverends should not impose situations on citizens.”
Foreigners, mostly those from Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, enter into marriages of convenience and marry more than one wife using different names to secure Zimbabwean citizenship or residence permits. In most marriages of convenience, women are lured with money or property.
A foreigner who intends to marry a Zimbabwean is now required to produce an original non-marriage certificate from his or her country of origin. Mudede said to decongest the Central Registry, production of identity documents and civil registrations had resumed at the RG’s offices in Kuwadzana and Highfield.
The offices were closed to pave way for renovations and security measures.
“Other registration offices in Harare include Market Square, Hatfield, Mabvuku and Mt Pleasant. Birth and death registrations can also be accessed at the Registrar General’s offices situated at Harare Central and Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals,” he said.