Owning house before marriage is not obligation, Home Affairs Ministry says

A traditional thatched house

A traditional thatched house

“Any young man who wants to marry must first have a house covered with sheet metals”, said Tharcisse Niyongabo, Governor of Bubanza western Province, on 18 February during a security meeting. He said that no application for marriage in the registry office in Bubanza province will be accepted unless the young man has his own house with a sheet metal roof. “It is very difficult for a man to build a house with durable materials when he has already got married”, he said.

Young people contacted from Bubanza Province said it is an unjust measure which does not take into account the reality of the country. “We live in extreme poverty”, said one of the residents of Bubanza Province.

They said the decision would rather increase illegal marriages and cause other negative consequences as well. “We would like to make our marriage in decent homes but many of us are not able to build a house with a sheet metal roof following the current financial crisis”, he said.

Térence Ntahiraja, Assistant to and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs said what the governor said were pieces of advice to encourage young people to improve their living conditions. “There isn’t any article in the Burundi civil code that stipulates that a young man must have this or that before getting married. If the young man is 21 years old without having another spouse and his fiancée is 18 years old or over, they should get married without any problem”, he says.

Ntahiraja says that the governors are conducting a kind of sensitization campaign to fight against traditional thatched houses. “None will be punished if he hasn’t means to build a house covered with sheet metals”, he says.

Previously, governors of the provinces of Ruyigi, Muyinga and Makamba have also called on young men who desire to marry that they must have decent houses, mattress, latrines and crops.