Lobola is contributing to a drop in the number of marriages per year in South Africa, causing the number of co-habiting couples to rise.
Civil marriage numbers are down 11% from their levels 10 years ago. According to statistics, there were 158,640 civil marriages in 2013 compared with 178,690 in 2003.
Prof Dori Posel of the University of KwaZulu-Natal says the typical bridewealth, as lobola is sometimes referred to, is 11 cows in KZN with the cost of each cow varying.
HomeTimes.co.za research in Gauteng among Zulus shows that the going rate for lobola is R50,000; the amount can increase up to R100,000 if the groom-to-be has a good job.
Young people are increasingly battling to marry the traditional wishes of their parents and communities with the realities and costs of living. They therefore struggle to save enough for lobola, their traditional wedding, the white gown wedding and for a deposit for a home.
Stats SA reveals that 33% of black children live with both biological parents. This is in stark contrast to 87% of white children and 97% of Indian children who have both biological parents at home. According to AMPS 2014, 68% of South African mothers with babies younger than two years of age are single and are not living with a partner.
For a number of reasons, including lobola , co-habiting seems to be becoming the norm for about 12% of couples in South Africa. If a co-habiting couple decides to buy a home together, they should do so with their eyes wide open as it could be a financially perilous path.
Research shows that co-habiting couples stay together for a shorter period of time than married couples do.
If a co-habiting couple buys a home using its joint income to obtain a mortgage loan and they subsequently split up, the ownership and mortgage payments issues can become more of a headache than the emotional problems of separating.
* In the second part of this series “How does lobola drive up co-habiting?” we will study the implications and ramifications from a property point of view of what happens should this co-habiting home ownership couple split up.