BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
HUMAN rights groups have hailed a High Court judgment allowing single fathers to apply for and obtain birth certificates for children born out of wedlock.
The ruling came after Bernard Tashu approached the High Court in November 2020 seeking an order directing the Registrar-General’s Office to allow him to apply for a birth certificate for his son.
Tashu had separated with his customary union wife Fungai Dzova in 2008 and separated in 2009. He failed to obtain the document for his son.
The Registrar-General opposed the application claiming that Tashu could not register as the father of a child born out of wedlock without the mother’s confirmation of paternity.
The Registrar-General also argued that allowing fathers of children born out of wedlock to obtain birth certificates for their children would result in child trafficking.
However, the High Court ruled in his favour.
“This is a very important judgment that protects children’s rights, including their ability to access socio-economic rights,” the Justice for Children (JC) and the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said in a joint statement.
Tashu was represented by child rights lawyer, Pamela Musimwa of the Justice for Children, while Petronella Nyamapepfene, a co-applicant, was represented by Darlington Marange of the forum.
Nyamapfene is a child rights activist and director of Justice for Children.
“It is well-known that children without birth certificates are deprived of access to education, healthcare, and social assistance. Most importantly, they lose their self-worth and dignity,” the rights groups added.
“This order is also a breakthrough to barriers faced by unmarried fathers who could not register for birth certificates where mothers are not co-operating. JC and the Forum, therefore, call upon the Registrar-General to comply with this judgment as it is in the best interest of children.”
The Birth and Death Registration Act [Chapter 5:02] allows unmarried fathers to register for birth certificates of their children if the mothers of the children are dead or have abandoned or deserted them.