Divorce cases on the increase

Harare Bureau
At least 1,417 couples this year filed for divorce at the High Court in Harare, an increase from last year’s 1,297.

Analysts attributed the increase to economic challenges and the breakdown of the extended family system that used to play an integral part in preserving marriages.

The statistics obtained from the courts show that the figures increased by 9 percent from January to December 10 this year.

In 2013, the High Court in Harare received 1,250 divorce applications.

Lawyers, who deal with divorce matters said that their experience has proved economic challenges and the decay of the extended family system as the major causes of the breakdown of marriages.

Harare lawyer Tapson Dzvetero of Antonio and Dzvetero Legal Practitioners cited the breakdown of the extended family system as a reason for the rise in divorce cases.

“I think it’s due to the growing traditional and cultural family disintegration, which used to play a pivotal role in marriage counselling and alternative methods of marital dispute resolution. Worse still, this isn’t being substituted by any other form of counselling,” said Dzvetero.

Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe president Bishop Johannes Ndanga said financial problems and gender equality were causing disputes in the homes.

“The sources of income in the homes are shrinking and disputes are on the increase.

“Most family disputes revolve around financial issues. If the couples are hungry, they tend to fight or even divorce,” he said.

Bishop Ndanga said gender equality that has seen women going to work and at times turning into breadwinners has also caused marriage breakdowns.

“Traditionally, women used to stay at home as their husbands went to work to fend for the family as breadwinners.

“Tables have turned as women are now slowly becoming breadwinners. Most men are failing to accept that their wives can look after them.

“Such an exchange in the family roles has sparked disputes as men end up feeling as if they’re being controlled by their wives,” said Bishop Ndanga.

Obert Gutu of Gutu and Chikowero Legal Practitioners said newly wedded and fairly young couples were dominating in divorce.

“From my 25 years experience of dealing with divorce and other legal work, I noticed that most divorces involve fairly young and newly married couples. The young people are quick to file for divorce when divorce should come as a last resort,” he said.

Gutu urged the church, family elders and the community at large to assist in counselling the young couples to save the marriages.

He said the breakdown of the extended family system has left the young couples to make their own rushed decisions, a development that has seen families breaking up.

Long distance relationships, Gutu said, were also contributing to the collapse of marriages.

“Economic challenges are forcing some couples to separate as spouses leave for the Diaspora in search of a better life. When a young man goes to Diaspora, leaving a young woman here in Zimbabwe for months or years, chances are high that infidelity may find its way and result in a marriage break down,” he said.

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