A marriage of convenience has returned to haunt a Harare woman who is legally married to a Nigerian but is customarily married to a local man, under whose name she is trying to register their child.
The “fake” marriage was consummated a few years ago in a bid to secure the Nigerian national’s residence permit and citizenship in the country. The woman, whose name is still being withheld by the Department of Immigration for fear of jeopardising investigations, is now customarily married to a local man whom she has sired a child with.
However, the Registrar General’s Department cannot not issue their child with a birth certificate reflecting her new husband’s name since their system still reflects that the woman is married to the Nigerian man. The woman is failing to locate the Nigerian national whom she ‘wedded’ while she was a teenager. The two met at the Harare Magistrates Courts a few years ago where she operated from as a vendor.
In an interview, the Immigration Department’s public relations officer, Principal Immigration Officer Mrs Canisia Magaya said in the recent past, cases of marriages of convenience had been on the increase until Government introduced strict measures.
“The issue of marriages of convenience is a challenge in the current migration dynamics. It is a phenomenon that is widely acknowledged but very difficult to ascertain.
“Previously, especially during the turn of the century such cases were at an alarming upward trajectory. However, currently we are noting a downward trend in relation to such cases. The decrease can be attributed to a cocktail of pre and post marriage vetting measures implemented by the Department in conjunction with the Registrar General’s Department and the Zimbabwe Republic Police in trying to curb this scourge,” she said.
Culprits were mostly from Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo among other countries who were entering into marriages of convenience and marry more than one wife using different names to secure Zimbabwean citizenship.
Mrs Magaya said, “A case was brought before the department recently in which a young lady came to the Department of Immigration requesting information about a certain Nigerian man with whom she wedded when she was a teenager. She claimed that she together with three other Zimbabwean women was approached by four Nigerian men at the Rotten Row Magistrates where they used to sell foodstuffs for survival.
“They reached a deal to wed the foreigners in exchange of a few thousand Zimbabwean dollars back then. She needed capital to travel to South Africa to buy goods for resale for self-sustenance. However, when she approached the office her problem was that she was now customarily married to a Zimbabwean and they had a child who was not registered but needed to attend school. The Registrar General Department could not issue her child with a birth certificate in her new husband’s name because their system still reflected the woman’s marriage to a Nigerian man and that needed to be annulled first. Her challenge was she could not locate the Nigerian.”
She said the department is still carrying out investigations into the matter and warned the public to desist from such activities as they will be arrested or even complicate their lives in future. In 2014, the Registrar-General’s Office said foreigners intending to marry Zimbabweans should be cleared by relevant authorities before entering into such marriages.