Zimbabwe: Landmark Ruling On Birth Certificates Hailed

Published: 11/Nov/2021
Source: The Herald (Harare)

By Fidelis Munyoro

The High Court decision giving fathers of children born out of wedlock a legal right to acquire birth certificates for their children where the mothers cannot be found or become unavailable to do this, has been welcomed as progressive and part of the process of treating all children equally, regardless of the marital status of their parents.

The landmark ruling follows a successful application by an upset father Mr Bernard Tashu, who was supported by Justice for Children Trust represented by its director Mrs Petronella Nenjarama-Nyamapfene.

Justice Owen Tagu on Monday ordered the registrar of birth and deaths registration to allow fathers to apply for and obtain birth certificates for their children born out of wedlock if the mothers deserted or abandoned their children.

For children born in a registered marriage, fathers have always been able to apply for a birth certificate on their own, simply presenting a copy of the marriage certificate and the identity documents of both parents and almost all early registrations are, in fact, done by fathers.

The new decision, giving fathers of children born out of wedlock new rights, reinforces the status of the High Court as the upper guardian of all minor children.

The ruling follows a set of recent High Court and Supreme Court decisions that basically in custody cases allow a child born out of wedlock the same rights as a child born in wedlock.

While the original High Court decision found that custody in such cases should be shared, the Supreme Court, while recognising that the old law giving sole custody and guardianship to the mother was outdated, did modify the ruling by insisting that each case had to be decided on the circumstances, with the child’s interests’ paramount, as was the case with children born in wedlock whose parents split.

That decision gave all children the same rights, regardless of the marital status of their parents.

In the latest case Mr Tashu was failing to acquire a birth certificate for his 11-year-old son, who was born out of wedlock and later abandoned by his mother, until the High Court came to his rescue on Monday.

Legal experts yesterday unanimously approved the decision and gave the court a round of applause.

Read further: https://www.herald.co.zw/landmark-ruling-on-birth-certificates-hailed/

Themes: Discrimination, Gender, Birth Registration
Regions: Zimbabwe
Year: 2021