THE government yesterday reaffirmed commitment to review the Law of Marriage Act to meet the current circumstances prevailing in the society.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Prof Palamagamba Kabudi told the National Assembly here that the review process needed to be conducted carefully so that the exercised does not stuck like what happened in Uganda and Kenya.
He was answering a supplementary question by Venance Mwamoto (Kilolo-CCM) who had explained that review of the law has been delayed for so long, causing dissolution of many marriages and street children in the society.
The minister pointed out that the law of marriage is one of the areas that need to be handled very carefully to reach a justifiable consensus. Professor Kabudi said that in the Continent, Tanzania was the first country that had succeeded to enact the Law of Marriage Act, 1971.
From 1966 under the Kalema Report until today, he revealed, Uganda failed to enact the law of marriage because of traditions, customs and beliefs.
Kenya, which in 1968 formed Spry Commission managed to enact the new marriage law, which differs from Tanzania’s, after the country’s new constitution, said the Minister, arguing that Tanzania’s law still remains the best.
He said the Law of Marriage Act was enacted in 1971 with defective provisions as seen today, citing the age of the married couples as one of the defects.
According to the minister, the government circular No. 1 of 1969, Article 7, was quite clear that the age of 14 years was the year also adopted by the United Nations. “But, considering today’s circumstances, it is quite obvious that this needs review. It is not just for a female child,” he said.
The minister said that section 15 (2) allows for a female child, but even a male child to marry under the age of 14, and that was due to the circumstances that prevailed at the time.
In her basic question, Ritha Kabati (Special Seats -CCM) claimed that the Law of Marriage Act of 1971 was an outdated legislation and wanted to know when the law would be reviewed.
Prof Kabudi said after 20 years since the law came into force, the government, through the Law Reform Commission reviewed the Act and discovered some problematic areas, which needed amendment.
Following the recommendation of the Commission in 2008, the ministry prepared a cabinet paper with amendment recommendations. However, he said, in December 2010 before the paper was discussed, a process for rewriting the new constitution was introduced.
The situation compelled the cabinet to suspend the process, hopping that the Constitutional Review Commission would collect views from the citizens, regarding the law alongside other legislations. However, views given were insufficient.