The Ugandan Government through the Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana has asked couples in marriages conducted by Bugolobi based Anglican Church of Resurrection to conduct fresh marriages because the Church wasn’t licensed/ gazetted.
During today’s plenary sitting, Rukutana said there is no remedy that couples wedded by sham Churches can have apart from repeating the process.
He was responding to a question raised by Mukono Municipality MP, Betty Nambooze.
It should be recalled that last week, Daily Monitor reported that 920 couples face a dilemma of invalid marriages after the church they had solemnised their marriages between 2006 and 2016 hadn’t been gazetted as per the Marriage Act, 1904 which stipulates that any marriage celebrated at a place other than that licencsed/gazetted by the Justice Minister, is null and void.
Nambooze told Parliament that dozens of these couples happen to come from her constituency and that it isn’t tenable in their ears that a marriage conducted in a church can be nullified because the church’s registration hadn’t been gazetted.
“I have information that this place of worship is now gazetted. If it is going to be held that these marriages are null and void it would have brought problems and antagonism in over 100 families in the country, some of these people have since died and if you are to nullify such a marriage, you would have brought inheritance problems,” Nambooze said.
She said that the development is likely to affect the women most because of societal stereotypes that state that each year that passes by a woman ceases to be ‘marriable’ arguing that if men who got married in 2006 are given an opportunity to say that women they married and have been living with were never in legal marriages with them, some of them might change their minds and this would likely bring problems to the children.
“These people went to church, in the middle of the city, how could it be that their marriages are null and void? Where were government institutions to guide Ugandans? When is the Ministry going to bring out a where to go instead of entering marriages and after a decade they are told their marriages are illegal. If there is no remedy that can be given to these couples and that they aren’t required to undergo the same ceremony,” Nambooze added.
However, Rukutana said that under the Marriage Act, marriages can only be registered by registrar of marriages and prayer centres that are licensed to register marriages on behalf of registrar of marriages and it was time Ugandans realised that not all prayer houses are licensed to conduct marriages because there are terms and conditions that prayer houses must follow to conduct marriages.
“There can be some remedial action; the remedy can be repeat the marriages not necessarily in religious institutions but before registrar of marriages. Let them comply, it is simple, they just go announce their intention to get married and it is pinned on notice boards,” said Rukutana.
He further said that whereas no one is moving to nullify the marriages, the marriages are null and void from initial stage because the status of the place of solemnisation is the essential requirements of marriage.
“Couples should be prudent enough to find out if prayer houses they are going to are duly registered. It is unfortunate that our people over time haven’t bothered to ascertain what kind of places they solemnise their marriages in,” he added.