By Makhosi Sibanda
THE Bulawayo City Council has challenged civic society organizations to lobby government to reduce property transfer charges, amid reports that scores of widows in the city fail to claim ownership of houses belonging to their deceased spouses.
Addressing a gathering in the city recently, BCC’s gender focal person Mrs Audrey Mangemwe said the amounts involved are too high and therefore something has to be done to ease challenges faced by surviving spouses to claim their properties.
“Most properties remain unclaimed because of the huge charges that are involved. These are too high considering that most women would have lost a breadwinner in the family,” said Mangemwe.
She said there are also concerns that the transfer of property process is lengthy and in most cases some widows fail to claim their property while they are still alive.
“Some people end up passing on without completing the process of property ownership transfer from their late husbands, further complicating the process for surviving dependents.
“It is the law and unfortunately the advocacy for such processes to be simplified should start at government level not with local authorities, it is the law of the country that has to be followed,” said Mangemwe.
She implored civic society organisations to take up the onus of lobbying government to simplify the property transfer process so that it is within the reach of many.
According to the Human Rights Watch, more than two thirds of the women experience profound injustice of their in-laws taking over their homes or property, and feeling helpless to stop it.
Others simply do not know that they have property and inheritance rights to begin with and are unable to withstand the intimidation tactics used by their in-laws such as daily shaming, harassment, and physical assaults.
Under other international human rights law, countries are required to ensure equal rights for men and women, including equal property and inheritance rights for widows and widowers.
Zimbabwe has ratified the regional and international human rights treaties that require the government to eliminate discrimination against women and to guarantee their rights to justice, non-discrimination, equality in marriage, physical security, and property.