POLL | Should polyandry be legal in SA?

14 May 2021 - 11:10
By unathi nkanjeni AND Unathi Nkanjeni
A hot debate has been sparked about a proposal to allow a woman to marry more than one man at the same time. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Sebnem Ragiboglu A hot debate has been sparked about a proposal to allow a woman to marry more than one man at the same time. Stock photo.

A proposal for polyandry to be legally recognised as a form of marriage has sparked a major debate. 

Earlier this month, the department of home affairs gazetted a new green paper for the Marriage Act

One of the proposals in the gazette is the recognition of polyandry. This would allow women to marry more than one man at the same time. 

Members of the public have until the end of June to comment.

In SA, only polygyny is currently recognised, which means men can have more than one wife.

Earlier this week, DA MP Natasha Mazzone slammed Al Jama-ah party leader Ganief Hendricks for his comments on the legislation.

During a plenary hybrid sitting of parliament on Tuesday, Hendricks said he was concerned the polyandrous marriage proposal would confuse children. 

“I am very concerned by the provision in the green paper of the Marriage Act where women are allowed to take more than one husband. You can imagine when a child is born, more DNA tests will be needed to discover who the father is. The problem is only going to get worse,” he said.

Mazzone said Hendricks' comments were insulting to women and he should be investigated by the parliamentary ethics committee. 

“I would like you to refer to what the last speaker, who I will not refer to as honourable, has just said. He was insulting to every woman in this country regarding the rights of women to have multiple husbands and the rights of men to have multiple wives,” said Mazzone. 

“In this day and age, in the year 2021, to think a public representative of this country would dare stand up in the parliament of SA and say something like that is an absolute disgrace. I want it referred to the ethics committee, and may I say that the only woman in this country who would possibly feel that way is his wife,” she said. 

Standing by his stance on polyandry, Hendricks told SAfm on Wednesday it was “un-African”, “taboo” and “immoral” for women to have more than one husband. 

“We need the religious sector to stand firm against introducing this. It is foreign and un-African. I can understand the ANC Women's League wants 50% of women to be representative, they want a woman president, but I think they are taking it too far to also want African women to be able to take more than one husband,” he said.