Firstly, what is cohabitation? This is when two people who are not married to each other live together as a couple but without the payment of lobola or without registering such relationship as a marriage in terms of the law.

Cohabitation, or as it is known in the Shona language as “kuchaya mapoto,” is not legally enforceable. It is not recognised at law as a marriage. Even if you stay together for a lifetime, if you do not take the necessary steps towards making that relationship legally enforceable, it remains legally unenforceable.

In the event that such relationship terminates, in most cases issues to do with property sharing arise but the sad part is that laws that govern marriages in Zimbabwe do not apply to cohabitation relationships since this can either be recognised as a union of any kind, registered or unregistered. In the end it therefore leaves either party disadvantaged usually in the event that such relationship is prolonged and parties have made permanent arrangements of staying together as if they are married and in the process acquires property together with either party contributing to such acquisition of property directly or indirectly.

People will find lobola too expensive to pay, and they decide to just live together, they acquire property together, and everything seems fine. In the case of termination, one of the parties is not entitled to anything. Unless at the mercy of the courts, if there is any mercy at all.

Think before you decide to live with that person. Weigh your decisions at your disposal.

In the past, “kuchaya mapoto” was derogatory and showed promiscuity, but with time it has come to be acceptable in society.





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