Cabinet approves amendments to customary marriages act
The cabinet has approved the submission of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill to parliament.
Addressing a post-cabinet media briefing on Thursday, minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu said the bill is intended to bring the existing act in line with judgments of the Constitutional Court, which declared sections of the act constitutionally invalid on the grounds that they unfairly discriminated against women in customary marriages.
“The bill provides for the equal treatment of women in pre-act monogamous and polygamous customary marriages,” Mthembu said. “The amendments eliminate the gender-based discrimination in polygamous marriages entered into before the commencement of the act of 1998. Spouses will now have joint and equal proprietary rights over marital property.”
The Constitutional Court declared sections of the act invalid in November 2017 but suspended the declaration of invalidity for 24 months to give parliament an opportunity to correct the defects. The department of justice and constitutional affairs invited comment on the proposed amendments in April 2018.