Traditional leaders say cases of child marriages are on a decline in some parts of Manicaland Province where they were rampant.
Zimbabwe Chiefs Council’s Manicaland provincial chairman, who is also a Senator, Chief Makumbe said that the fall in cases of child marriages is attributable to a tripartite arrangement between the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Judiciary Services Commission and traditional leadership.
Speaking during an interview with The Manica Post, Chief Makumbe said there has been a decrease in the number of cases being reported at the community courts. He said:
Cases of child marriages continue to decrease because of the tripartite arrangement that is there between traditional leaders, magistrates and the police.
We meet regularly as the Crime Consultative Committee and discuss how to end these harmful practices.
It is an old tradition which should be abolished and as traditional leaders, we are doing everything that we can to disseminate information to people in our areas of jurisdiction.
It is criminal and most people know the consequences that come with such practices.
Chief Makumbe blamed local men who are based in neighbouring countries for the prevalence of child marriages in areas such as Buhera Central, Buhera South, Buhera North, Marange and along the borderline areas of Chipinge, Chimanimani and Mutasa. He said:
These men often lure young girls to their foreign bases without their parents’ consent.
The young brides are smuggled out of the country through the illegal exit points dotted along the country’s porous border with Mozambique and South Africa. The perpetrators know very well this is criminal.
We are taking every opportunity available to spread the message that marrying off your underage children is criminal. We are living no stone unturned to address this.
At every gathering, we are spreading the message, even at churches, food aid meetings or political meetings.
We make sure that as traditional leaders we get a chance to address the community and raise awareness against these harmful practices.
On 27 May 2022, President Emmerson Mnangagwa signed into law The Marriages Act which prohibits the marriage of minors under the age of 18.