ZIMBABWE – At least 1 417 couples this year filed for divorce at the High Court in Harare, an increase from last year’s 1 297, which analysts attributed to economic challenges and the breakdown of the extended family system that used to play an integral part in preserving marriages.
The statistics obtained from the courts show that the figures increased by 9 percent from January to December 10 this year.
In 2013, the High Court in Harare received 1 250 divorce applications.
Lawyers, who deal with divorce matters, told The Herald that their experience has proved economic challenges and the decay of the extended family system as the major causes of the breakdown of marriages.
Harare lawyer Mr Tapson Dzvetero of Antonio and Dzvetero Legal Practitioners cited the breakdown of the extended family system as a reason for the rise in divorce cases.
“I think it is due to the growing traditional and cultural family disintegration, which used to play a pivotal role in marriage counseling and alternative methods of marital dispute resolution. Worse still, this is not being substituted by any other form of counseling,” said Mr Dzvetero.
Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe president Bishop Johannes Ndanga said financial problems and gender equality were causing disputes in the homes.
“The sources of income in the homes are shrinking and disputes are on the increase.
“Most family disputes revolve around financial issues. If the couples are hungry, they tend to fight or even divorce,” he said.
Bishop Ndanga said gender equality that has seen women going to work and at times turning into breadwinners has also caused marriage breakdowns.
“Traditionally, women used to stay at home as their husbands went to work to fend for the family as breadwinners. Tables have turned as women are now slowly becoming breadwinners. “Most men are failing to accept that their wives can look after them.
“Such an exchange in the family roles has sparked disputes as men end up feeling as if they are being controlled by their wives,” said Bishop Ndanga.
Mr Obert Gutu of Gutu and Chikowero Legal Practitioners said newly wedded and fairly young couples were dominating in divorce.
“From my 25 years experience of dealing with divorce and other legal work, I noticed that most divorces involve fairly young and newly married couples. The young people are quick to file for divorce when divorce should come as a last resort,” he said.
Mr Gutu urged the church, family elders and the community at large to assist in counseling the young couples to save the marriages.
He said the breakdown of the extended family system has left the young couples to make their own rushed decisions, a development that has seen families breaking up.
Distance relationships, Mr Gutu said, were also contributing to the collapse of marriages.
“Economic challenges are forcing some couples to separate as spouses leave to the Diaspora in search of a better life. When a young man goes to Diaspora, leaving a young woman here in Zimbabwe for months or years, chances are high that infidelity may find its way and result in a marriage break down,” he said.