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THE long running economic crisis in the country may be driving many people to betray their wedding vows. Indeed, there is a relationship between the economy and infidelity. Sociologists argue that an extramarital affair might look like an easy way for people to distract themselves from worrying about financial problems.

The direct implications of infidelity have resulted in broken homes, less earning power than a nuclear family unit, and higher levels of poverty along with higher maintenance costs. Such stories have dominated front pages of our tabloid press recently, and these stories are worrying. There are more implications from this trend in our society, which include rising incidences of crimes of passion and the rapid migration of people to other countries, which results in broken family units.

We urge public policy makers, the church and government to swiftly intervene by looking at what is driving infidelity in order to help the country arrest a problem that is clearly turning into a full blown crisis. Clearly, the Zimbabwean crisis has just not had political and economic ramifications but has destroyed the nuclear family unit. It is easy for us to just say that three million Zimbabweans have migrated, but we have cared less to look into the actual implications of these statics. We now have high divorce rates, increases in single-headed households, and high rates of infidelity.

It’s a shame that as a country we have ignored how the crisis has precipitated family fragmentation in Zimbabwe. If anything, the many cases of crimes of passion being reported in our media daily highlight opportunities for our policy makers to find effective interventions to keep the family unit alive. As such Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede’s widely reported remarks about not using contraceptives and condoms are irresponsible as they unwittingly promote unsafe sex and multiple partners. For a highly placed civil servant to be so reckless, what kind of signal is he sending to people?

Unfortunately, we have also accepted infidelity as part of society by popularising the small house phenomenon, which has sadly become a status symbol. Why have we become so tolerant towards extra marital relationships? And while new technologies and new media can be a force of good, they have been cataclysmic in the further breakdown of relationships. WhatsApp and Facebook have been cited in many cases that have resulted in crimes of passion.

Let’s be wary of the social and economic ramifications of a decline in marriage and increase in divorce. There are risks of increased poverty, juvenile delinquency, and potential adult criminality among the children involved. During these times of economic hardships, we expect our government to use diamond revenue to sponsor social welfare programmes such as the Basic Education Assistance Module and the health delivery system but these risks being cut or not funded at all at a time when the need for these programmes is increasing.

Source : Financial Gazette