THE LEGAL POSITION REGARDING FOREIGN MARRIAGES IN ZIMBABWE, By Ashton Mufari.

The issue of marriage is one of the most fundamental aspect of life in any given society. Marriage in the narrow sense is a concept which is understood by anyone and is traceable from time immemorial. But legally, marriage is not clearly understood. Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union between spouses that establishes legal rights and obligations between those spouses, as well as between them and any resulting biological or adopted children and affinity (in-laws and other family through marriage). Nowadays, there has been an increasing number of Zimbabweans who now desire to marry foreign nationals. Most of these Zimbabweans have no idea as to the legal requirements for entering the marriage with foreigners and hence this is the driven force towards writing this legal opine which seeks to shade light on the position.

GETTING MARRIED TO A FOREIGNER IN ZIMBABWE – THE REQUIREMENTS

Firstly, it is noteworthy that the Zimbabwe Constitution (Amendment No. 20, Act 2013) does not bar marriage of a Zimbabwean to a non-Zimbabwean. There are however some requirements which the foreign national must satisfy. These are:

  • The production of a non-marriage certificate or non-impediment letter from his or her country of origin.
  • A police report and classified fingerprints from his or her country of origin.
  • Clearance from Zimbabwe’s Immigration Department.
  • Clearance from Zimbabwe Republic Police

It is also important to highlight that the rationale or idea behind the aforesaid requirements is to protect Zimbabweans from marrying foreigners who are already married in their home countries or who are criminals. Imagine hearing that your foreign spouse is a fugitive of justice when nursing the child of that foreigner or when you are bearing his pregnancy? In the past many Zimbabweans especially women have been taken advantage of by married foreigners who duped them into marrying them so that they could gain local citizenship.

A divorcee wanting to re-marry must produce their divorce order. A widow or widower intending to get married in terms of the Marriage Act (Chapter 5:11) must produce a Certificate from the Master of the High Court. A widow or widower intending to get married in terms of the Customary Marriages Act (Chapter 5:07) i.e. the potentially polygamous marriage must produce a copy of their marriage certificate with their late spouse together with the death certificate.

In terms of the Marriage Act (Chapter 5:11) parties intending to get married in terms of that Act must before the marriage either publish and obtain a certificate of Notice of Intention to Marry in terms of Sections 14 and 15 of the Act or cause the publication and obtain a Certificate of publication of banns in terms of Sections 11 and 12 of the Act or obtain a Marriage licence from a Magistrate in terms of Section 16 of the Act. Both banns and notices of intention to marry may be published outside Zimbabwe in terms of Section 13 of the Act.

Lastly, A marriage officer is required to ensure compliance with the aforesaid requirements before solemnizing any marriage.

Legal article written by Ashton Mufari, Associate, Muhonde Attorneys.

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