WATCH: MP’s remarks on polyandry leaves DA’s Mazzone enraged in Parliament
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Cape Town - Even before the Green Paper on marriage gets to Parliament for discussion, the issue of polyandry has sparked a heated reaction from MPs.
The legalisation of polyandry is just one of a number of wide-ranging proposals in the Green Paper, which the department of Home Affairs said it has gazetted in a bid to invite substantive comments from the public.
During a plenary hybrid sitting of Parliament on Tuesday evening, where the issue of the unfolding DNA crisis at the SAPS was being debated, Al Jama-ah Party leader Ganief Hendricks said he was concerned by the polyandrous marriage proposal in the Green Paper.
Hendricks said: “I am very concerned by the provision in the Green Paper of the Marriage Act where women are allowed to take more than one husband. You can imagine when a child is born, more DNA tests will be needed to discover who the father is. The problem is only going to get worse.”
DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone was outraged by Hendricks’ remarks and immediately caught Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli’s eye, wanting Hendricks’ remarks referred to the ethics committee.
Mazzone said: “I would like you to refer to what the last speaker, who I will not refer to as honourable, has just said. He was insulting to every woman in this country regarding the rights of women to have multiple husbands and the rights of men to have multiple wives.
“In this day and age, in the year 2021, to think that a public representative of this country would dare stand up in the Parliament of South Africa and say something like that, is an absolute disgrace I want it referred to the ethics committee and may I say that the only woman in this country who would possibly feel that way is his wife.”
Saying that he would refer the matter to the ethics committee, Deputy Speaker Tsenoli also warned Mazzone against intemperate language.
Tsenoli said: “I will refer the matter to the ethics committee, but I do wish to say to you that even when you are outraged, your language must be careful as well. You need not cross boundaries because you are outraged by what someone said.
“We will look at what Honourable Hendricks said and we’ll report back to the House.”
Earlier, in response to queries on the polyandry proposal, the Al Jama-ah Political party said the consequences of polyandry would be disastrous in so far as separation of estates is concerned.
In a statement, the party said: “This leaves other acts of Parliament open to various amendments as it may not be compatible to such marriages.We also need to take into consideration the psychological effects this may have on spouses and more in particular the children of these marriages.”
Publishing the Green Paper for public comment, Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said: “This is the beginning of a crucial public discourse that will redefine the concept of marriage in South Africa.”
Motsoaledi said the next step to implementing the marriage policy, after gazetting the draft marriage policy for public comments, would include submitting the marriage policy to the Cabinet for approval by March 31 next year.
This would be followed by submitting the Marriage Bill to the Cabinet for approval by the end of March, 2023 and, finally, taking the Marriage Bill to Parliament for approval by March 31, 2024.