Proposed amendments to the Guardianship of Minors Act that passed in Cabinet this week, are expected usher in a positive change where children born out of wedlock will enjoy the guardianship of their fathers, gender activists have said.
Currently, the law clothes mothers with the guardianship of children born out of wedlock but the proposed amendment, if it passes the test, will make fathers co-guardians who equally share responsibilities associated with the guardianship of a minor.
This week, Cabinet passed principles on the proposed amendments to the Guardianship of Minors Act, 2014 to align it to the new Constitution.
The Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services on Twitter, announced the development saying it will bring equality among men and women.
“Cabinet yesterday passed principles on the proposed amendments to the Guardianship of Minors Act, 2014 to align it to the new Constitution.”
Gender activist and lawyer Ms Jessie Majome hailed the development saying men who have children out of wedlock should brace for a big change that will see them performing real guardianship duties, including baby bathing and nursing the child in times of sickness.
“This is an exciting development and to all men with children outside wedlock, you must shape up and rise to the responsibilities of a guardian. It means fathers, not married to their children’s mothers, will also be equal guardians.
“If the Bill is passed into law, fathers who are ordinarily absent will be expected to perform other duties like taking leave days to nurse the sick children, the same way mothers do,” said Ms Majome.
Ms Majome said the amendment was long overdue considering the new supreme law was promulgated in 2013.
“Section 56, 80(2) and 81(1) and 19(1) of the Constitution called for equality in the best interest of the child but the alignment has taken long.
“I think it is now time to do it,” she said.
Harare lawyer Mr Wellington Pasipanodya of Manase & Manase Legal Practitioners hailed the development saying it will go a long way in solving problems linked to the rights of children.
“The proposed re-alignment of guardianship laws is a welcome development in line with international standards. It will help resolve the numerous abuses and oppression that women have suffered under the brutal insensitive actions of irresponsible fathers who unnecessarily withhold their consent when it comes to the welfare of the interests of the minor child.
“The law as it stands is oppressive to single mothers. Absent fathers have caused so much emotional suffering due to their insensitivity when it comes to the welfare of their fathered children,” he said.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer and Child Rights Coalition in Zimbabwe member Mr Weston Chidyausiku said the amendment of the law was progressive.
He said related laws like the Maintenance Act should also be aligned in the best interests of the children.