674 couples file for divorce in Byo


© THE number of couples that filed for divorce at the Bulawayo High Court between January and December last year marginally declined to 674 compared to 820 the previous year.
During the same period, 1 267 couples got married in terms of the Marriage Act Chapter 5:11 at the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Courts.
Lawyers and religious leaders who spoke to the Daily News attributed the slight reduction in official divorces to the high legal costs.
In November, the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) hiked legal fees, a development that saw the public being required to part with at least $18 000 to file for a divorce.
Top lawyer Dumisani Dube of Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers said this had contributed to the decline in the number of official divorces.
“This simply shows how exorbitant the costs of justice are to ordinary citizens who cannot afford lawyers and justice.
“A civil servant would have to work for more than a year to afford the costs of a divorce lawyer who will charge at least $18 000 minimum for an uncontested divorce.
“So in an order of priorities, folks would rather remain in toxic relationships than pay court and lawyers’ fees, which goes against the right to access justice, a basic tenet of our constitutionalism,” Dube said, adding:
“It is just a recipe for disaster which perpetuates domestic violence, marital abuse and the best interests of children to be raised in a peaceful, social environment which guarantees their spiritual and emotional well-being.”
Word of Faith International Ministries leader Angliston Sibanda said while statistics indicate that although the number of couples who divorced had declined, the marriage institution was still under attack.
“These figures are indicative of the attack on the marriage institution, family system and the society at large, creating victims in the process and these are innocent children, some of who end up in the streets or being wayward and some suffer in various ways in life,” Sibanda said.
He challenged the Church to work harder in instilling societal values that are critical in sustaining the sanctity of the marriage institution.
“The Church must work harder in building societal values of love, respect, tolerance, forgiveness … Some of the cases have a lot to do with the economy as well as the general depravity of the society in the information age. It calls for a re-look at our theology and approach to contemporary issues as the Church,” Sibanda said.
Cleric Useni Sibanda said most couples are now being forced to stay married as they cannot afford to pay lawyers.
“Most people could be separated but are not able to divorce due to financial constraints, so the figure could be higher.
“Most men also cannot afford to have multiple partners, which previously led to divorce … now they are limited to one wife,” Useni said.

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