Friday 7 October 2022


While some sections of society denounce polygamy as an archaic practice that is not suitable for modern lifestyles, the BaTonga community of Binga believe it cultivates family unity and reduces incidents of domestic violence while suppressing HIV infections.

They claim polygamy reduces spinsterhood as there are more women than men in the country.

For that service, they want the Government to pay them.

Due to the preservation of culture, the BaTonga community in Binga District, Matabeleland North has one of the country’s low HIV infection rates which stands at five percent against the national average of 11 percent.

Following the outbreak of HIV, health experts championed monogamy as a measure to reduce infections.

But for the BaTonga people from Binga, the continued practice of polygamy among other cultural practices seems to have saved them from the HIV scourge.

The BaTonga believe that while citizens strive for monogamous marriages, there is evidence that these relationships are failing and hence contributing to high divorce cases.

Instead, the BaTonga have embraced polygamy as part of their lifestyle.

Saturday Chronicle caught up with some polygamous men in the Siachilaba area, under Chief Siachilaba, who backed the cultural practice saying it has kept families together.

A father of nine, Mr Nelson Munkuli said polygamy comes naturally in the BaTonga community as most of them were born in polygamous families.

Mr Munkuli is married to two women and is looking for a third one.

“My father had seven wives and 35 children if I’m not mistaken. So, I’m planning to marry another wife just to follow in my father’s footsteps. So far, I have nine children and one of my wives is pregnant and I expect another child soon,” said Mr Munkuli.

“I’m inspired by my late father, so that is why I’m saying I want to have at least three wives. I’m cognisant that having more wives comes with more responsibility. We are living in different timelines from my father’s generation.

“Unlike in the past where education was not prioritised, I have to send all my children to school, so that is why I want to limit my wives to three.”

He said one of his wives is his late brother’s widow, but to guard against HIV infections, they both tested for HIV and were declared free of the virus.

 Mr Munkuli said by marrying his late brother’s wife, he is also taking care of his sibling’s children as his and doing so is key in cementing relations.

He said being fair to all his wives was key to strengthening family ties.

“For instance, I have a duty roster that I maintain with my wives. If I’m spending two days with one of them, I make sure that I spend two other days with the other wife. That timetable has to be strictly followed. I also have a separate hut which I sleep in especially when I don’t want to be with any of them. That room is important in the management of conflicts and all polygamous men have it,” he said.

“Even when I’m tired, I just resort to it because it is not good for a man to claim to be tired. When I buy groceries, I take everything to that room and that is where I share the goodies with my wives. Because, if you don’t do that and take the groceries to the bedroom of one of the wives, the other can be jealous and even think that you hide some of the things from her and that creates conflicts.”

Mr Munkuli said the Government should consider incentivising polygamous men as they were providing a service to the nation.

“As we speak there are more women than men in the country. So, can you imagine without polygamous men where will those other women find love? It is even better to be openly polygamous because some of these men who claim to be in monogamous relationships are the ones trapped in infidelity relationships. I think, the Government should consider rewarding polygamous men as they are assisting a lot of women,” said Mr Munkuli. Chronicle


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