Month: May 2022

What Is A Power Of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a written authorisation to represent or act on behalf of another in private affairs, business, financial or legal matters. There are a number of reasons why one may need someone to make decisions or act on behalf of them, for example when they are outside the country or when they are unable to perform the task on their own due to some incapacity – illness, imprisonment, etc. The person authorising another to act on their behalf is called the Principal Grantor and the one authorised to act is the Agent or Grantee.

 A Power of Attorney deposed to in Zimbabwe must be signed before a Commissioner of Oaths, whilst one signed outside Zimbabwe must be signed before a Notary Public who affixes his or her notarial seal. There are two types of Powers of Attorney:

  1. General Power of Attorney

A General Power of Attorney allows the Agent or Grantee to do any and all things one could legally do. By signing a Power of Attorney the Principal does not only empower the Agent to act, but also indicates to third parties that he or she will be bound by acts performed by the Agent. A properly authorised Agent who validly enters into a contract on behalf of his Principal is therefore protected from any liability arising from that contract. A General Power of Attorney is wide and all-encompassing. It gives the Agent a vast amount of power to act on behalf of the Principal. However, the fact that a General Power of Attorney is broad may be dangerous for the Principal in that an Agent may enter into transactions not contemplated by the Principal which may leave the Principal liable and facing prosecution whether civil or criminal.

2. Special Power of Attorney

If a Principal wishes to limit the Agent’s authority to a specific, identified activity or transaction, a Special Power of Attorney must be used. An example would be when one instructs a Conveyancer to pass Transfer, to register a Mortgage Bond over an immovable property; appoints an Attorney to represent them in Court or give an Attorney power to sign documents on their behalf.

Generally, it is not advisable to make a Power of Attorney indefinite or permanent. A Power of Attorney whether General or Special should have a date for its expiration which date must be clearly stated in the authorising document.

Child Marriages

Marrying a girl or boy under the age of 18 is regarded as being unconstitutional and warrants a criminal offence according to provisions the Constitution of Zimbabwe, 2013 and the Legal Age of Majority Act. Any person who has not attained 18 years in Zimbabwe is a minor, and is protected by the laws of the land from marriage. Getting married to a minor in Zimbabwe is a serious offence frowned upon by the Legislature.

Section 78 of The Constitution of Zimbabwe makes provision for the following,

Marriage rights

(1) Every person who has attained the age of eighteen years has the right to found a family.

(2 )No person may be compelled to enter into marriage against their will.

(3) Persons of the same sex are prohibited from marrying each other.

Section 81 of the same Constitution defines what a child is and provides for the rights of children, while Section 44 provides for the protection of such rights. The case of Mudzuru & Anor v The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs&Ors, The Constitutional Court held that,

“The age of sexual consent which currently stands at 16 years is now seriously misaligned with the new minimum age of marriage of 18 years. This means that, absent legislative intervention and other measures, the scourge of early sexual activity, child pregnancies and related devastating health complications are likely to continue and even increase. The upside is that the new age of marriage might have the positive effect of delaying sexual activity or child bearing until spouses are nearer the age of 18. The downside is that children between 16 and 18 years may be preyed upon by the sexually irresponsible without such people being called upon to take responsibility and immediately marry them. Thus, there is an urgent need, while respecting children’s sexual rights, especially as between age mates as opposed to inter-generational sexual relationships, to extend to the under-eighteens the kind of protection currently existing for under-sixteens with the necessary adjustments and exceptions”. In light of these legal provisions, members of the public are encouraged to report cases of child marriage to the police.