Birth Certificates Reprieve For Fathers
9 November 2021
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By A Correspondent- Fathers of children born out of wedlock have won a legal right to take out birth certificates for their children where the mothers cannot be located, or become unavailable for the process.

The landmark ruling by Justice Owen Tagu follows a successful application by an aggrieved father Bernard Tashu, who was supported by the charity, Justice for Children Trust.

The trust was represented by its director Petronella Nyamapfene.

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.

The two applicants were represented by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum lawyers who confirmed the judge’s ruling on Monday, although the full judgement was yet to be made available.

“Justice Tagu 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,” the lawyers said in a statement.

Cited as respondents in the application are the registrar general as the first applicant, home affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe and the master of the High Court as the second and third respondents respectively.

Tashu and Nyamapfene argued that by barring fathers from acquiring birth certificates for children whose mothers cannot be located or do not wish to cooperate, the government was depriving those unregistered children of the right to access some basic social services.

In his founding affidavit, Tashu stated that officials from the registrar-general’s office had barred him from acquiring a birth certificate for his son Erick, whose mother cannot be located.

He said it was unlawful for the registrar-general’s office to grant mothers a definite advantage in acquiring birth certificates in the absence of their fathers, when fathers were barred from doing the same.

He argued that by denying him an opportunity to acquire his son’s birth certificate, the registrar general was violating section 35 of the constitution, which guarantees every citizen, including children, the right to acquire birth certificates.