Property and Inheritance rights



WLSA Zimbabwe vision is to ensure a society in which justice in equitably accessed, claimed and enjoyed by women and girls in all spheres of life. We focus on laws and policies that affect women and the girl child.

One of the major issues that we have dealt and continue dealing with is that of property and inheritance rights especially in the context of HIV/Aids. We have noted that many complications arise due to the nature and type of marriages in Zimbabwe. The type of marriage one has determines how one’s estate in the absence of a will should be distributed upon death.

There are two registered marriages that are recognized in Zimbabwe. The third type is called an unregistered customary law union (sometimes called marriage). These are described below:


  1. Chapter 5:11:  Marriage Act -This marriage is conducted at the Magistrate Court or in church before a registered marriage officer. It allows a man to have one wife at any given time.  Only the High Court of Zimbabwe can dissolve this marriage.
  2. Chapter 5:07:  Customary marriages Act – This marriage is conducted at the Magistrate Court only. A man may have more than one wife and each wife will have their own marriage certificate. It is therefore a potentially polygnous marriage in the sense that a man can marry many wives. Most people refer to it as polygamy. This marriage can be dissolved at either the High Court or Magistrate Court.
  3. Unregistered customary law union: - This arises in a situation where a man pays lobola for his wife. A man may also pay lobola for many wives. At law, this union is given limited recognition because it is not registered. For purposes of inheritance, it is recognized as a marriage. BIGAMY
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