Zimbabwe: Minors Bill Subject to Public Hearing

The Guardianship of Minors Amendment Bill, which seeks to give both parents equal rights to a child, will be subjected to a public hearing for the second day running today to allow stakeholders to give their views on the proposed law.

Several radio programmes were lined up for Thursday and yesterday to allow members of the public to air their views on the Bill.

The Bill seeks to amend the principal law by giving both the father and mother of a child equal rights and allow consultation in making decisions affecting the minor.

The principal law gave the father superior rights over a child by providing that it was the duty of the father to consult the mother on the question of guardianship.

The proposed law also seeks to remove a clause that empowers parents to give their consent to the marriage of their children.

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Senate Thematic Committee on Gender and Development will hold joint public hearings through radio programmes on the Bill.

The hearings will also be accessible to some virtual platforms as Parliament moves in to avoid physical meetings as part of its effort to contain the Covid-19 pandemic which has claimed thousands of lives.

Zimpapers radio stations Star FM, Diamond FM and Nyaminyami FM aired the hearings on Thursday, while the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio Zimbabwe, National FM and Khulumani FM also conducted radio programmes on the Bill.

The Bill gives legal definitions of the words custody and guardianship to give it more clarity.

It defines “guardianship” as a legal right allowing either parent to manage the minor’s affairs including health, education needs, financial security or any welfare.

“Legal custody” arise by virtue of parents being married to each other or by virtue of an order of separation or divorce. Clause Three of the Bill provides that guardianship and custody of a minor shall be exercised jointly in consultation of each other.

The Bill will amend Clause Four by deleting a clause that gives power to parents to consent to marriage of their child.

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