The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Signing of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill into law. The Federation supports the progressive objectives of this Amendment Act.
The Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill seeks to ensure that women married before the 1998 enactment of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act are covered by its protections in the event of a divorce, death, separation of assets, custody, etc. This Amendment Act is an important step forward in strengthening the rights and protection of women, especially in rural areas.
It is bad that Parliament and the government exceeded the two (2) year time frame given to them by the Constitutional Court to correct this unconstitutional and unfair discrimination. The speed at which Parliament and government deals with such important matters need to be dealt with. Such delays erode the confidence workers have in Parliament and government.
It is an indictment upon Parliament and government that the 1998 Recognition of Customary Marriages Act failed to have this retrospective protection for women. Significant gaps remain in our variety of marital legislation, in particular, with regards to Muslim marriages, the rights of women, etc. There is a need to review existing marital laws and to enact one single all-encompassing marital act. The draft bill by the Law Review Commission is hopefully a step forward in that regard.
It is important that the 6th Parliament complete the unfinished work of the 5th Parliament and conduct a review of all existing laws to ensure that all unfair discriminatory laws and provisions are repealed.
For further information please contact: Matthew Parks- COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687