WINDHOEK - Couples wishing to tie the knot will be required to apply to get married, if the new Marriage Bill cruises through all vetting processes without major changes.
The Bill will also require persons between 18 to 21 years to have parental consent before getting married.
The Bill has in principle already received the approval of Cabinet, according to Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology Engel Nawatiseb. Cabinet has now referred the Bill to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation (CCL) for further scrutiny and appropriate recommendations to Cabinet, before it is tabled in the National Assembly.
With having to apply to get married, the Bill will help detect issues of bigamy (marrying someone who is already married), marriages of convenience and lost marriage records.
“You have to apply (to get married) then we will publish that application so that everybody knows you are getting married and there are no hinderances or impediments why you should not get married,” Home Affairs Minister Frans Kapofi told New Era about the proposed Marriage Bill.
He said people will apply to the marriage officer in the home affairs ministry or whoever is announced to wed people in terms of the law.
“When you apply your marriage will be publicised, your intention will be public and if there are people who object, because there are people who are married already,” the minister explained.
Kapofi added that cases which involve a foreigner (wishing to get married), they will require documents from the concerned person’s country of origin that state that there are no impediments or hindrance to get married here.
As it is now, Kapofi said, couples wanting to get married just make an announcement, approach marriage officers or a church to get registered and marry afterwards.
Kapofi stated that the Bill will also deal with marriage of convenience and there are provisions to make sure that people do not get married for that purpose.
He said this will be done by making it public (once a couple apply to get married) and if there are objections, they will not get married.
He further said the Bill will prescribe that the marriage of persons 18 to 21 years of age requires parental consent.‘
“You cannot just get up and say you are going to get married – if you are between this age bracket, you require your parents’ consent and the authority must be satisfied that you acquired parental consent,” he noted.
Kapofi explained that this is not a restriction but just to regulate society and make sure there is order.
On the issue of lost records, Kapofi said the Bill will have a provision that will reconstruct marriage records where such records were officiated but for whatever reason they cannot be found. He stated people will be required to provide some sort of evidence.
The background of the Bill is that the Marriage Act, No. 25 of 1962 was inherited from South Africa by Namibia at independence and does not address some of the key challenges facing the Namibian society such as bigamy, marriage of convenience and lost marriage records. In order to address these specific challenges, the home affairs ministry proposes as one measure to strengthen the appointment of marriage officers, including pastors to ensure that all marriages are solemnised and recorded according to the set legal provisions.