Authorities in Mzimba have foiled officiation of a marriage in Traditional Authority (T/A) Chindi in Mzimba because one of the members is under aged.
According to M’mbelwa district council social welfare officer, Bernard Nangwale, the families of the two lovebirds came up with an invitation card which went viral on social media last week.
‘‘Of the two people involved, the boy is 16 years old while the girl is 18. Both are standard seven dropouts. So we have foiled the marriage because the boy is a minor and according to Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act, such would have been an illegal marriage,’’ Nangwale said in an interview on Monday.
A multidisciplinary team comprising officers from police, social welfare and gender office established that the two really planned to officiate their wedding on 20th September 2023 at Jarawe CCAP Church.
The boy comes from Zitchoke Mgawadere village, group Village headman Mpeyama Gondwe and the girl hails from Dumba village both in the area of T/A Chindi.
Through the multidisciplinary team, it was noted that parents from both sides were aware of the marriage and lobola had already been given to the bride’s family.
Said Nangwale: ‘‘As a committee, we engaged the parents of the two and told them to call off the wedding as it is illegal to have wedding involving a minor. We asked them to send the boy and girl to school instead. The bride’s family has since agreed to return the lobola that they received’’.
Mzimba district civil society organisations chairperson, Christopher Melele has described the decision to cancel the officiation of the marriage as the best thing to do to stem the rising wave of child marriages.
‘‘But while we applaud the move to cancel the wedding because of the fact that one of them is a minor, we feel the plan to have the marriage officiated shows we have a mountain of work to do to ensure people in communities stop entertaining child marriages,’’ Melele said.
Melele added that the planned officiation of the marriage just shows that many marriages involving under aged children are happening discreetly in communities.
‘‘Without the invitation card which went viral, this marriage would have been officiated yet its criminal act to have such weddings involving minors. So, it means both government and non-governmental organisations should intensify the campaign against such marriages.
“We need to make communities aware that there are a lot of far reaching consequences when children get married such as complications during giving birth and also child and early marriages fuel poverty,” said Melele.