WITH divorce cases and the number of women claiming maintenance on the increase, local traditionalists have blamed the trend on Pentecostal churches, saying pastors were competing on a number of marriages they bless per year.

While 2014 court records were not readily available, 473 divorce summons were issued in 2013, a rise by 48 cases compared to the previous year.

Other cases were handled by Msasa Project while some by the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association among other organisations.

Speaking to Newzimbabwe.com in Harare, traditionalists said the Pentecostal church leaders’ ways of handling marriage runs athwart to those of the traditional ones which value love and families.

“We only hear that our children are getting married and we are just provided with a date but we are side-lined in the process of the courtship and not given the time to teach our children what is expected in their future union,” said Sekuru Thomas Chandaengerwa.

He added: “Pastors and Bishops have taken over the roles of tete’s and sekuru’s who are now considered outsiders yet their knowledge of family values is so important to each every new comer to the family.”

His sentiments were echoed by Amai Angela Matambo who said that in most cases when family elders try to teach marriage values to their children they are told that this is not what “Papa” from my church is saying.

“Every time I try to sit down with my children and teach them traditional values they are quick to dismiss me saying their church teaching does not say so.”
“They even disobey me telling me openly that they have the blessing from the church.”

Other traditionalists said the churches were even marrying immature people who barely after two or three years of union separate forcing the divorcee to go to another church where he or she marries another person.

“Gone are the days when we used to have a white wedding followed by a traditional ceremony at our rural homes so that our ancestors also blessed the couples,” mourned Sekuru Chandaengerwa.

In November last year leader and founder of United Family International Church, Emmanuel Makandiwa, “blessed” a mass wedding of 600 couples and issued them with certificates.

Mass weddings were banned by the registrar general in 2012 calling them treacherous.