Links with Mozambique frustrate child marriages fight

ELLEN MLAMBO

CHIPINGE – Several chiefs in Chipinge share the same lineage with their counterparts across the border in Mozambique.
Their cultures are so close that some Zimbabwean chiefs have territories that stretch right into Mozambique and it is not uncommon for Mozambicans to be tried in Chipinge by Chipinge traditional chiefs for crimes committed in their own country.
Many polygamous men from Chipinge have wives and children on both sides of the border. Many people said that child marriages are an inherent culture for the tribes found along the border.
Chief Mahenye is one example of a traditional leader who has subjects in both Zimbabwe and Mozambique. There are also chiefs of the same clan on either side of the border for example there is Chief Mapungwane on the Zimbabwe side and Chief Mapungwane across the border in Mozambique.
Such an arrangement has made it difficult for Zimbabwe to make any meaningful impact in its fight against child marriages in Chipinge where neighbouring communities across the border do not only practice child marriages but openly promote them.
The fight against child marriages is also weakened by the border which is porous with people near the border moving back and forth between the two countries without any hindrance.
Poverty in the area has also seen families marrying their young children to men who can provide food.
President Mnangagwa and First Lady Auxillia have been on the trail campaigning against child marriages following the enactment which bans marriages of girls under the age.
Police reports indicate that there were 77 cases of child marriages or sex with children in Chipinge in 2019 alone and this is a jump of 10 from 65 reported in 2018 despite accelerated efforts by Government to bring down the practice.
There is evidence for example that child marriages in the district are more concentrated along the border with Mozambique. There was a total of 15 cases in September 2019 and of these 10 were near the border while only 5 were in urban settlements.

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