Couples left in lurch by Zimbabwe’s wedding ban
Scores of wedding couples were left stuck at the altar in Zimbabwe this weekend after the registrar general banned all marriage ceremonies.
Tobaiwa Mudede, a close ally of President Robert Mugabe, said pastors who conducted weddings would go to jail.
The ban was announced in the official Herald newspaper on Wednesday. Mudede says he is trying to stop marriages of convenience, and weddings will now only be held when a new biometric marriage certificate is in use.
However, since many opposition supporters refuse to read the pro-ZANU-PF media, some couples were unaware of the move and went ahead with their wedding plans, only to find out on their big day.
Would-be bride Tatenda Chigovera, who was supposed to be married in Harare on Friday, said: “We took this wedding seriously and have spent months preparing.”
At least 20 couples had been due to marry in the main magistrates’ court in Bulawayo. Other weddings were stopped at the last minute in the towns of Beitbridge and Gweru. The ban will last “indefinitely”, official media said.
“We are the first in the world to fight marriages of convenience,” said Mr Mudede. “Marriage officers will have to comply with this and if you don’t, jail is waiting for you.”
The authorities complain foreigners, mostly from Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are paying Zimbabwean women to enter into marriages of convenience so that they can obtain residence permits. In a case that recently came to light, a desperate local street vendor agreed to marry a Nigerian man for just £6 in 2006.
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