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Zimbabwe removes controversial clause from proposed marriage bill


  31 Juillet      136        Politique (17866),

   

HARARE, July 31 (Xinhua/GNA) — The Zimbabwe Cabinet has directed that a controversial clause in the proposed Marriages Amendment Bill be removed following public outcry that it sought to legitimize extramarital relationships by recognizing civil partnerships between men and women.
Clause 40 of the proposed Bill, which was gazetted recently, would have allowed adult men and women who are not married but have lived together domestically to be regarded as partners in what is known as a civil partnership.
Civil partnerships would have been recognized even if either or both the partners are married to someone else under customary law or in a civil marriage.
Upon dissolution of the civil partnership, the partners would have been entitled to the same remedies as legally spouses on divorce.
But after concerns were raised during public consultations on the Bill, Cabinet on Tuesday resolved to remove the section, State news agency New Ziana reported Tuesday.
The news agency quoted Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa telling journalists after a Cabinet meeting that members had sought clarification from the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi on the contentious section.
« Following the explanation by the minister, Cabinet observed that the concept of a civil union or partnership is foreign and not consistent with Zimbabwe’s cultural norms as well as its Christian values, » she said.
« Accordingly, Cabinet has directed that Section 40 which bears reference to civil partnerships be removed forthwith from the proposed Marriages Amendment Bill, » she said.
Attorney General Prince Machaya said the idea behind Section 40 in the Bill had been to protect rights of either partner in the event of a break up.
« Civil partnerships were created in that draft Bill solely for purposes of distribution of assets of the people involved in that union when they go their separate ways, » he said.
« It (civil partnership) is not recognized, it is not a marriage but it was merely out of considerations of fairness that it was felt that when these people move apart the one who is more economically empowered should not use their economic empowerment to the detriment of the other partner.
« Let a court decide who should have what. That was the sole purpose of referring to that as a civil partnership. »
Machaya added that it seemed this was being misunderstood as a form of marriage, which was an affront to cultural values.
« Cabinet has looked into all those other issues apart from the issue of fairness and decided we should remove reference to civil partnerships, » he said.
He said without that provision, partners in an unrecognized union were not entitled to claim protection that people in recognized marriages were entitled to.
« When two people just move and live together they have rights they have as individuals, their living together does not confer any additional rights upon them.
“So a person who enters into such an arrangement and is thereafter left by the other party can only claim such rights as they had as an individual, » he said.

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