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NGO proposes amendments to marriage laws

2021-10-22  Staff Reporter

NGO proposes amendments to marriage laws
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Shoki Kandjimi 


A non-profit organisation, the Namibia Marriage Council (NMC), has indicated its intention to discuss possible amendments to the marriage law through a married couples’ conference to be held in Rundu this month. 

NMC founder Paulus Hawanga revealed this during a press briefing held in Rundu on Tuesday. 

He said the conference will discuss the proposal for law reform on the recognition of customary marriages. This is despite Namibia recognising civil marriages only, excluding traditional and religious marriages. 

The conference will further discuss issues around divorce cases, child marriages, same-sex marriages, cohabitation and the impact of the veterinary cordon fence, known as the Red Line, on marriages in Namibia. 

“This is the reason why we have called for a couples’ conference so that we can discuss all the issues that marriages are faced with. The conference will also deliberate on new marriage styles which are being developed,” Hawanga added. 

The conference will be attended by religious leaders, civil society organisations and social workers from the Ministry of Health and Social Services, amongst others. 

Simultaneously, he suggested that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, Safety and Security considers making it compulsory for couples to undergo training before they get married.  

“We are recommending mandatory pre-marriage training before they decide to get married. No Namibian should be allowed to get married without being prepared thoroughly on what marriage entails,” Hawanga stressed. 

Additionally, he called for the mandatory compilation of a will and testament for couples before they decide to tie the knot. 

The founder of NMC believes that the absence of a will has brought about problems for the children and the family when one of the spouses dies. 

“We have registered cases from spouses when a loved one departs. It’s saddening to us; not as the Namibia Marriage Council, but as the community at large. Make time and go around, there are testimonies,” he observed. 

He further noted that when one of the spouses dies, the family claims the inheritance of the departed spouse, leaving the rightful beneficiaries destitute, especially in customary marriages. 

Wendy Nyangana, a social worker in the ministry of health, concurred, indicating that they receive such cases where a spouse and their children are denied access to their inheritance because the couple were married traditionally. 

“There are instances where you find people who are well-off and own properties, but when they depart, their children are left suffering because the family decided to claim their relative’s inheritance, which in my view is not fair,” Nyangana emphasised.  

She urged the line ministry to relook these cases and consider recognising customary marriages to formalise such unions. The conference will be hosted on 26 October, and the organisation will also be celebrating its fourth anniversary. 

2021-10-22  Staff Reporter

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