Contrary to claims that the government has banned “roora/lobola” (bride price), the Marriages Bill which is before Parliament does not seek to do so, a cabinet minister has said.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said that the Bill seeks to prohibit marriage officers from requesting proof of payment of lobola when solemnising a customary marriage. Said Ziyambi:
In terms of our current marriages laws, there are two types of marriages: civil and customary marriages.
What has been happening is that in the case of civil marriage, a couple would go to the marriage officer to solemnise the marriage with no questions being asked about payment of lobola.
As long as the couple satisfies the requirements set out in the law, they solemnise the marriage through their marriage certificate.
However, in terms of a customary marriage, the marriage officer would ask whether lobola had been paid to the bride’s family.
That requirement had to be satisfied first before the marriage is solemnised.
What the new law will do now is that requirement will fall away.
But this does not mean we are saying people should not pay lobola, no!
Lobola will still be paid, but the provision requiring the marriage officer to request proof of lobola payment is the one we have done away with.
The groom is still required to pay the bride price to the bride’s family as has been happening all along.
It is only that when registering a customary union, the marriage officer is no longer required to satisfy himself that the bride price has been paid.
There is no abolition of lobola.