Lobola: Zimbabweans debate repayment ruling

By ZBC Reporter

The lobola repayment debate rages on various social media platforms and other public domains after an under-reported 2015 court ruling sprang to life.

We explore the debate which has been torched by the ruling which gives a male spouse the right to claim a refund if his wife cheats.

A visit to a saloon in Harare’s CBD saw an intense debate on the fairness of the ruling erupting. 

“What happens to all the contributions that I would have made after marriage? Will I also be refunded for child bearing and other menial jobs I would have done during the course of the marriage?” one lady asked.

A male patron commented, “If a woman cheats I need my money back I cannot stay with a wife who is not faithful.”

Legal experts have also come on board to give insight into what many might have overlooked.

“Lobola, however, is understood variously. From one perspective, it can be seen as a noble and respectful gesture where in the family of the groom shows appreciation for the wealth the prospective bride will bring to their lives and the void that her absence within her family will create.

“On the other hand, lobola can be seen as a perpetuation of patriarchy and women’s subordination, the commodification of a woman’s roles and functions in the home,” explained legal expert Abigirl Matsvayi.

Debra Mwase, also a legal expert, said, “On the aspect of men being the ones who cheat, women can sue the one who cheats and customarily they are appeased (kuripwa). Same goes with the court where she can sue for a certain amount of money. Hence, the commodification aspect comes in.”

The lobola debate brings up many complex dynamics that Zimbabweans need to continually interrogate carefully, lest the practice loses its place and dignity in various societies.

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