MPs block Marriage Bill from being debated in Parliament: Bill a “Marriage Destroyer”

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By Anna Chibamu

IN its current form the Marriages Bill is at best a “destroyer” of civil unions, opposition MPs have argued/

On Wednesday, they shot down an attempt by Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi to begin a process of having it debated in Parliament.

Government, as part of efforts to harmonise the country’s marriage laws with the national Constitution, has crafted a Bill that has been taken to citizens for input.

Ziyambi, had proposed to Deputy Speaker Tsitsi Gezi, that the Bill be put on the Parliament’s (Order Paper) schedule for debate by members but MPs demanded that Zimbabweans must be given a chance to debate it thoroughly at first.

The MPs described the controversial Bill a “marriage destroyer”.

Dzivarasekwa MP Edwin Mushoriwa fumed: “This Bill is a marriage destroyer. It should not be allowed to be debated or go through this House before thorough public consultations.

“What is this rush for? Zimbabweans have a right to debate more on this Bill than rushing it as the Minister is proposing now.”

Mushoriwa was asked to withdraw the “marriage destroyer” part by deputy speaker.

“Which part do you want me to withdraw Speaker,” asked Mushoriwa, to which Gezi responded: “That part which says marriage destroyer”.

For this the Deputy Speaker was drowned in jeers from opposition benches.

Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese also queried why the minister needed to have the Bill debated before 14 days of introducing draft law in Parliament had lapsed.

“There are many issues to be considered on this Bill and there are so many processes that will be skipped once the Bill is put on the Order Paper. Why the rush Honourable Speaker?” Gonese asked.

Justice Minister Ziyambi then responded angrily: “I am not saying all other processes should be skipped. I have no problem with that. We can even do it next year.”

The proposed Marriage Bill seeks to merge the Marriage Act and the Customary Marriages Act but concerns have been raised on the ‘civil partnership’ clause which has been misconstrued by many leading to the public outcry.