Some Zimbabweans, particularly civil servants, are reportedly entering into marriages of convenience to expedite the processing of spousal visas to enable them to travel to the United Kingdom and other developed countries for employment.
One needs a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS), an electronic document issued by foreign employers to prove that one has secured a job, which in turn qualifies them to get a visa to go out of the country.
The document costs about £6 000, which is equivalent to about US$7 000 – a figure which is beyond the reach of most workers in the country, particularly civil servants.
This has forced them to enter into marriages of convenience so that they share the COS document cost which then enables them to apply for a spousal visa.
Some “matchmakers” who facilitate fake marriages have created social media groups to match willing partners.
In an interview with NewsDay, a middleman who spoke on condition of anonymity said:
Marriages are happening even between strangers who will then ‘divorce’ after two years when they have successfully arrived in the foreign country.
This has been helping a lot of people. Given the earnings the civil servants are getting, it is difficult for an individual to raise US$7 000, say in two months. So, they marry and share the costs.
Registrar-General (RG) Henry Machiri said the issue of marriages of convenience was common in many countries. He said:
The issue of such marriages of convenience is not synonymous to Zimbabwe only, but it happens in many countries.
People do that usually when they want to get work permits, for instance.
However, the RG’s office keeps records and, therefore, cannot tell whether a marriage certificate was issued from a fake union or not.
Thousands of government workers, particularly from the health sector, have left the country over the years due to poor working conditions. | NewsDay