Abigail Mawonde Herald Correspondent
Apostolic and Zion churches have welcomed the recent ruling by the Constitutional Court which prohibits the marriage of girls under the age of 18.
The two sects have been, for sometime now, accused of failing to deal with the practice among their members of marrying children. The Union for Development of Apostolic Church in Zimbabwe and Africa (UDACIZA) said there was need to sensitise the sects’ members and alert them to the illegality of marrying girls under the age of 18.
Reverend Edison Tsvakai of UDACIZA said in an interview that there was need to embark on campaigns targeting major gatherings of such churches.
He said there was a culture of marrying underage girls within the Apostolic and Zion churches.
“Apostolic and Zion churches work hand in glove with Government and when Government puts in place a law, we respect and follow it,” said Rev Tsvakai.
He said some members of the Apostolic and Zion churches were still not aware that it was now a crime to marry girls below 18.
“They are ignorant of that and there is need to take such measures like talking to church leaders about this new development, especially during their major meetings,” said Rev Tsvakai.
“Let us target the gate keepers and they will in-turn tell their congregants. Laws are made at the top and take time to reach to the bottom.”
Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe leader Bishop Johannes Ndanga said they were happy with the Constitutional Court ruling as it demonstrated that the country was moving towards the right direction in following the Bible’s commandments.
“We would like to applaud our judicial system for coming up with such a ruling,” he said. “The idea of marrying a youngster is rape. It cannot be classified as early marriage.
“It is a co-ordinated rape. As Zimbabweans, we should not allow that to happen.That is very wrong.”
Bishop Ndanga added: “We have always had a Gender and Childcare Unit Programme which works against child marriages in our organisation, but had been lacking support from the laws, but now that this law has been passed, everyone should follow it and this will see perpetrators being arrested.”
Bishop Ndanga warned church leaders to desist from encouraging and sanctioning the unlawful act.