Despite being ranked among the nations with a highly educated populace, it is worrisome that Zimbabweans lack knowledge on inheritance laws, Ambassador Mary Mubi said in Bulawayo this week.
Mubi, the senior principal director in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), Department of Public Affairs and Knowledge Management said because women lacked knowledge on the laws, they could not influence the shift from some of the pieces of legislation that have become unfit and only infringe on their rights.
The ambassador was addressing scores of women at the Large City Hall during the first lady’s out-reach programme on inheritance and property rights targeted at women and the girl child.
Addressing the meeting, Mubi commended First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa’s initiative, labelling it as a noble programme since women needed to be knowledgeable so that they can influence a change of laws, to suit the present times.
“Women come to the office with inheritance problems. While our country is recognised as having the most educated population, we are less educated on the issues of the inheritance laws,” she said.
“During the difficult times of the passing away of their spouses, women become vulnerable as predators take the opportunity and want to benefit from the estate of the now-deceased. Many times, women have approached my office after having been failed by the justice delivery system.”
Speaking at the same occasion, Master of the High Court Eldard Mutasa said widows should register the estate of the deceased within 14 days after the occurrence of death.
“Failure to register the estate with the Master of the High Court or your nearest magistrate’s court within 14 days attracts a penalty that may be 30 days’ imprisonment or a fine,” he said.
Mutasa cautioned women to have full knowledge about the types of marriages they enter into noting that the type of marriage determines the manner in which the estate of the deceased will be distributed.
The first lady came up with this programme, targeting all the country’s provinces, upon realising that relatives cheated women out of their inheritance following the deaths of their husbands.
Most women lost out because they were not aware of laws safeguarding their rights while others did not know who to approach.