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MBABANE – Members of Parliament (MPs) want women to have the power to say no to polygamous marriage in the kuteka custom.

The kuteka custom entails that a man can have more than one wife but they have an obligation to report to the first wife about their intentions. However, the reporting does not mean the man must get consent from the wife. It is courtesy that the man makes his first wife aware of is intentions.
However, the legislators, particularly the female MPs, want it to be incorporated in the Marriages Bill, 2022 that the woman, during consultation with her husband on marrying a second wife, should have the power to put her foot down and deny the husband marrying another wife.

Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Portfolio Committee Chairman MP Sibusiso Mabhanisi Dlamini moved for the adoption of the report of the committee on the Marriages Bill, 2022 and he was seconded by Manzini North MP Macford Sibandze. Shiselweni Region MP Nokuthula Dlamini submitted that there was no better time for the Bill to be enacted into law because many people were miserable in their marriages but there was no way out. She even enquired from the committee chairman on why the Bill took long as people were enduring very toxic marriages and said the legislation was a ray of hope. “I am very pleased about this law; it will restore peace, respect and dignity in many marriages. The fact that the Bill gives women many grounds of divorce, even in the traditional wedding, is something to celebrate,” she said.


Manzini Region MP Busisiwe Mavimbela echoed MP Nokuthula on her submissions, stating that it was giving her a lot of joy to see the committee putting so much effort into a legislation that sought to give women a voice in marriages. “Women have the right to say no to a second wife and the law should also incorporate that. If the couple does not reach a consensus that favours the woman, that should be ground for divorce and she should be allowed to leave that marriage,” she submitted. Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku was one of the legislators who supported the Bill and he also touched on the issue of the right of the woman to decline a request from his husband to marry a second wife.

“Is there room for the woman to say yes or no when consulted by the husband on his intentions to marry a second wife? Does the legislation give her power to come out of that marriage if her opinion is not considered as far as being in a polygamous marriage is concerned?” he asked. However, most of the MPs were against the proposed amendment giving women power to deny their husbands marrying another wife. Minister of Labour and Social Security Phila Buthelezi, enquired if it would not be in conflict with the traditions and customs of the country if women were given that power. The minister said the proposed legislation had many conflicts with the customs of the country and if given the green light, it could stain them heavily.


MP Prince Mfanawemakhosi said the danger in this proposed provision was that many would land in hospital after a beating from their wives as they consult to have a second wife. He said as much as it was a norm to alert the wife on one’s intention to have a second wife, it was improper to get consent because chances of getting a positive response were next to zero. It should be noted that the Bill was withdrawn by the chairperson of the committee after MPs complained that it had too many gaps.