Women in Bulawayo have lamented the difficulties they face when they want to inherit family estates and property left behind by their deceased spouses.
This came out during a recent meeting organised by Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) and Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) on land governance issues.
Speaking during the meeting, said the patriarchal system in the country makes it difficult for them to access the property.
“It was very difficult for me to change our house from my husband’s name to my name after his passing because I could not afford the associated costs,” said Elizabeth Mabhena
She said the process was very long and some women usually give up along the way.
“There are a lot of processes that need to be done and these processes all need money and takes time.
“One is expected to do advertisement three times in the public media of which the cost of doing that is expensive, the more time we wait as without inheriting estates the more risks of relatives claiming those estates,” Mabhena said.
Sanele Khumalo said the process is also open to abuse by corrupt officers and relatives.
“We have witnessed many women losing houses because they failed to change the estates to their names, you end up seeing people claiming that the house has been sold without you knowing what transpired.
“If only the process can be known to people what is really expected because you end up getting lawyers saying I can get your forms processed very fast, that on its own means I now have to pay double,” Khumalo said.
Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ), legal officer Marilyn Sibanda said most women fail to pay for the process of changing estates to their ownership.
“What happens is that the process needs conveyance where one needs to have a legal practitioner to help them through the process, that process needs money and most women do not have it,” said Sibanda
She said some people have houses that are still recorded under the deceased’s name.
“There are now estates where we now have five generations and the name of the estate has not changed because of the expenses.
“The thing is that the Government does not even provide lawyers to help women who want to go through the process so for them to acquire funds to go through the process is very difficult.
“Some people lose money through bogus lawyers who say they can do the process fast for women but at the end of the day, you find that that person is not even a legal practitioner,” Sibanda said.