Government moves to give property rights to women in polygamous marriages

25 July 2019 - 13:01 By THABO MOKONE
Justice minister Ronald Lamola will soon table legislation aimed at ending gender-based discrimination in polygamous marriages entered into before 1998, says Jackson Mthembu.
Justice minister Ronald Lamola will soon table legislation aimed at ending gender-based discrimination in polygamous marriages entered into before 1998, says Jackson Mthembu.
Image: 123RF/awrangler

Government has moved a step closer towards legalising equal proprietary rights between men and women engaged in monogamous and polygamous customary marriages.

This is according to Jackson Mthembu, the minister in the presidency, who told a post-cabinet meeting press conference in Cape Town that justice minister Ronald Lamola would soon be tabling proposed legislation in parliament aimed at ending gender-based discrimination in polygamous marriages entered into before 1998.

Mthembu said the Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill of 2019 was now ready to be submitted to parliament for processing and approval, before it can be signed into law.

"The bill provides for the equal treatment of women in pre-act monogamous and polygamous customary marriages. The amendments eliminate the gender-based discrimination in polygamous marriages entered into before the commencement of the RCMA (Recognition of Customary Marriages Act) of 1998.

"Spouses will now have joint and equal proprietary rights over marital property," said Mthembu.

The amendments to the act stem from a Constitutional Court ruling of two years ago.

In a unanimous judgment in 2017, the Concourt declared that section 7(1) of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 1998 was invalid because it unfairly discriminated against women by treating polygamous customary marriages differently to monogamous marriages.

On the economy, Mthembu said PepsiCo's R25bn offer to buy local food producer Pioneer Foods was a "clear vote of confidence in the South African economy", although the condition of the acquisition on offer had not been clarified.

He also lauded carmaker Ford's expansion plans at its Pretoria plant in Silverton, saying its R3bn investment would create 1,200 jobs.


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