Registry recalls defective marriage certificates Civil Registry Department

Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, [email protected] 

THE Civil Registry Department has advised couples who were issued with marriage certificates after the repeal of the Marriage Act 5:11 to approach its offices to have the “defective” legal citation rectified and align the document with the new laws for validity purposes. 

This follows concerns raised by marriage officers and legal practitioners that marriage certificates issued after the repeal of the Marriage Act 5:11 may be invalid as they still quote the old law instead of the new Act (Chapter 5:17).

The coming into effect of the new Marriage Act was announced in a statutory instrument of a Government Gazette published in September 2022.

Responding to written questions from Chronicle, Civil Registry spokesperson Ms Tsungai Muguti said while the department was awaiting a statutory instrument from the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, couples concerned should approach their offices for adequate assistance.

“Those who got married after the Act was repealed can still come to the office and have that changed. As a department, we cannot change the certificates or forms as yet until the gazetting of the S.I. by the Ministry of Justice so that we can print the certificates with the new Act.

“Our marriage officers from around the country are aware of this and we urge those affected to proceed to our offices and see Mr Mpala who is the deputy registrar general,” said Ms Muguti. 

“Unfortunately, our provincial officers do not have marriage offices so it makes sense that those affected see Mr Mpala who is based in Harare.”

In an earlier statement, Law Society of Zimbabwe executive secretary Mr Edward Mapara had also notified members about the issue and directed concerned couples to go to the registrar and rectify the concern.

“It has been brought to our attention that, despite the existence of the new Marriages Act, the stationary being used for civil marriages registered after the effective date has not changed. 

“Parties are, therefore, still being given marriage certificates, which now incorrectly read ‘5:11’,” he said.

“We are advised that pending an overall rectifying instrument to save all such affected marriages, lawyers or individuals can take the certificates in question to Mr Mpala, the contact person at the Registrar’s Office in Harare, who will insert the correct Act and stamp the marriage certificate accordingly. 

“Members instructed in divorce proceedings should attend to rectification, as we are advised that the divorce cannot properly be founded on a null certificate.” 

Commenting on the issue, family lawyer Mr Shepherd Chingarande said those who got married after the new Act was passed in 2022 should check if their certificates have the correct Act and stamp. 

“Marriage certificates are written 5:11, a law that was repealed by the new Marriage Act in 2022. Marriage certificates should read Chapter 5: 17 but sadly we continue seeing certificates that quote the old act,” he said. 

“Their certificates arise from an act that no longer exists and at law, there is a possibility that all marriages entered into after the repelling of 5:11 might be non-existent,” said Mr Chingarande. 

“So, as legal practitioners, we are saying these people are not married as there should be an Act passed to validate those weddings. 

For example, if a client with such a certificate wants to divorce, I need to go to court and get the certificate corrected first as that marriage is null and void. There has to be a bridging Act to regularise those marriages,” he said. 


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