On Friday 10 November 2023, TEASA, in partnership with the Department of Home Affairs held a workshop to address areas of concern TEASA members had regarding their relationship with the Department, as well as in the role they played as Marriage Officers.
In attendance from the Department of Home Affairs were Mr L. T. Makhode, Director General of the Department of Home Affairs as well as Deputy Director General Mr Thomas Sigasa and other Home Affairs officials. Minister Motsoaledi joined proceedings later in the day.
In his address, Reverend Ntlha, at the opening of the proceedings, described the role of TEASA as a three-fold agenda of connecting churches in collaboration and unity; building capacity among churches in areas where this is needed; as well as communicating evangelical concerns to different publics e.g., government, business, civil society as well as other ecumenical bodies in South Africa and beyond.
Furthermore, he outlined the advocacy journey of TEASA in supporting the institution of marriage as a hetero-sexual covenant between a man and woman, while respecting the choices of those with different views.
The meeting addressed frustrations experienced by church leaders in their roles as Marriage Officers. These were satisfactorily addressed by Home Affairs officials.
Helpful communication channels were established to enable the church leaders to fulfill their function of officiating marriages on behalf of the state.
Reverend Ntlha’s remarks highlighted the main points in TEASA’s submission toward the draft Marriage Bill.
Other points contained in TEASA’s submissions were that the adoption of gender-neutral wording by the proposed legislation, while attempting to accommodate non-hetero genders, actually marginalised hetero-sexual South Africans by removing the pronouns they use to identify themselves.
Similarly, marriage has long enjoyed the status of a religious institution in state legislation, but by seeking to recognise secular marriages as legally the same as religious marriages, the state was creating contention between the two notions of marriage.
TEASA suggested creating a new body of legislation to govern the secular configuration of marriage, so that between the two configurations of marriage, none “holds superiority over the other, and all are equally safeguarded by the law.”
To view TEASA’s submission to the draft Marriage Bill, please use this link: https://teasa.org/2023/09/04/teasa-submission-on-draft-marriage-bill/
TEASA will continue to provide its members with updates on these and other developments pertaining to their relationship with the DHA.