PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is adamant that it has accomplished a lot in stopping child marriages in Zimbabwe despite some reported rising cases of the pervasive practice.
In response to summons filed at Harare High Court on 28 September
2021, government lawyers are unwavering that President Mnangagwa’s
administration had taken all the legislative and other steps required
at law to stop child marriages including enforcement of the same.
The lawyers argued that a request for an order from the High Court to
secure the rights of the girl children exposed to the practice of
child marriages is misplaced, unnecessary and incompetent.
In March 2021, government released some shocking figures showing that
4 959 girls fell pregnant between January and February 2021 alone at a
time when the scourge of child marriages increased due to the effects
of the coronavirus pandemic and associated national lockdowns.
The response by government filed at High Court on 18 October 2021 came
after Sharon Moffat, a Masvingo resident and two human rights
organisations recently asked the High Court to order Marange Apostolic
Church of St Johanne and the Apostolic Churches Council to mount a
campaign denouncing the practice of child marriages.
In the application, Moffat, Legal Resources Foundation (LRF) and
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) want Marange Apostolic Church of
St Johanne and the Apostolic Churches Council to be ordered to publish
at every shrine or every place of worship, a message for 19
consecutive weeks, clarifying, for the benefit of their congregants
and adherents, that the marrying or giving in marriage of girl
children is not an aspect of their respective faiths and should not be
committed in the name of their religion.
Moffat, LRF and WCoZ also want the High Court to order Health and
Child Care Minister Constantino Chiwenga, Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon. Ziyambi, Home Affairs and Cultural
Heritage Minister Hon. Kazembe Kazembe, Women’s Affairs, Community,
Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Hon. Sithembiso
Nyoni, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe Gender Commission and
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, to take steps to bring to an end the
practice of marrying and giving in marriage of girl children in
Marange Apostolic Church of St Johanne and in Independent African
Apostolic Churches represented by Apostolic Churches Council.
The trio want Zimbabwean authorities to conduct identification of
children married in terms of the practice, their removal, from such
marriages and placement in places of safety established in terms of
the Children’s Act for their rehabilitation.
They also want the activation of the criminal justice system against
all men who have married or otherwise have had sexual intercourse with
minor children in the name of religion post the decision of the
Constitutional Court in Mudzuru and Another v Minister of Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Others in Case No. CCZ-12-15 and
the publication of a summary of the declaraturs in all national
newspapers and on all national radio stations in all vernacular
Moffat, LRF, which is a law based human rights organisation and WCoZ,
a network of women’s organisations involved in the preservation and
protection of women’s rights including the rights of children are
represented by Paidamoyo Saurombe of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, Advocate Regina Bwanali and Advocate
The matter is yet to be set down for hearing.