The Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, has announced that Lobola will be abolished in South Africa by 2017.
Sometimes referred to as “bride wealth”or “bride price”, Lobola is property in cash or kind, which a prospective husband gives the head of a prospective wife’s family in consideration of a customary marriage. Historically, this property was in cattle, but over time it has moved to being mostly in cash
But speaking to iMzansi, in an exclusive interview, the Minister said that his Ministry was working round the clock on a bill, which if passed, will outlaw the practice of lobola.
Gigaba said under the new law, men who will be unhappy with their wives will have the power to demand a lobola refund. He added that the upcoming law is a result of the incessant pressure being piled on the government by women rights activists who want lobola to go as they see it as the root cause of imbalances between spouses.
“For many years, we have tried to ignore these calls, but we have realised that this is what women of South Africa seem to want as part of equality… the argument is that lobola is the foundation of inequality in marriages… the woman comes in a junior partner because something would have been paid for her, so with lobola gone, it will be easy for spouses to treat each other as equals,” Gigaba explained. He added that under this upcoming law, which is still at the drafting stage, a husband who is unhappy with his wife would be free to approach his in-laws to demand a refund of whatever he would have paid in lobola even if the marriage still subsists.
“We are still at the stage of drafting the law and once the Bill is out, there would be nation-wide consultations so that members of the public can make their own inputs before it becomes a law. I have to emphasise that this is not our idea, but that of women rights organisations like, ANC Women’s League, Women’s Net, Women’s Institute For Leadership, Development And Democracy and the South African Women Lawyers Association, among others,” he added.
The jovial Minister told us that, that under the proposed law, upon divorce, a man is entitled to a full refund of what he would have paid as lobola.
“The Bill should be ready for public debate in the first quarter of 2017, that is when these organisations and all other interested parties will have their day in the court of public opinion so that the matter is settled once and for all. As Home Affairs Minister, I can also tell you that our new Constitution is very democratic… it has a provision for a referendum to be called for when people cannot agree on an important issue like this,” the The Minister added.
He said once the law comes into place, charging lobola will be treated as extortion, which is a criminal offence.