Cultures in Conflict Challenges of Marriage and Divorce under Zimbabwe’s Dual Legal System

The analysis in this paper gives an account of the perspectives of the people of Chiwundura on Zimbabwe's current legal system which combines the application of Roman Dutch Law and Zimbabwe's Customary Law. Arising conflicts are explained as a result of the current legal system, particularly in regards to marriage, divorce and inheritance of property. The paper also highlights the recommendations coming from the community members on how the legal system can be adapted to respond to the needs of the people. CCMT has been working with the Chiwundura community for two years. The intervention was aimed at addressing rights violations that women were facing in the application of customary law by the customary law courts. Between 2012 and 2013 CCMT conducted a research study and facilitated several dialogue meetings in the community. Customary law was viewed by community members in Chiwundura as having a number of advantages over general law although it was inherently discriminatory to women. Background The phenomenon of conflicting laws that occurs in countries that have plural legal systems is not unique to Zimbabwe but it is a challenge in many former colonies. The British colonial administration through indirect rule allowed the colonised to continue practising their traditions within matters of personal and family law. European laws on the other hand, were used to govern the public sphere of politics and economics. Despite the differences in colonial experiences most post colonial states have plural legal systems.