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Zimbabwe: Thousands of newlyweds discover marriage papers invalid

Thousands of newlyweds in Zimbabwe have been surprised to learn that their marriage certificates are not valid.

It has emerged that, because of a clerical issue, certificates issued within the last 18 months are void – a discovery which could affect all those couples who got married within this period.

The matter came to light when the Zimbabwe Law Society issued an alert notice to lawyers across the country.

It noted that stationery being used for civil marriage certificates continues to cite a chapter from an old marriage act, which was repealed in 2022.

The new act, which came into effect in September 2022, brought sweeping changes, including greater rights to partners in traditional marriages. It also criminalised child marriage.

The law society has advised those affected to take their certificates to a registrar, who will correct and stamp the document.

The lawyers also warned if you have an invalid certificate you cannot get divorced.

Several newlyweds who spoke to the BBC were previously unaware that their certificates might be invalid.

The mix-up elicited mirth on various instant messaging platforms, with some joking it was an opportunity for those looking for a way out of their marriage.

The Civil Registry Department told state-owned paper The Chronicle that while it can amend existing certificates, it cannot print fresh stationery bearing the correct law without the government first announcing the change via a gazette.


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