VERITAS GUARDIANSHIP OF MINORS AMENDMENT BILL, 2021

Veritas GUARDIANSHIP OF MINORS Amendment Bill, 2021

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Memorandum

Under the common law of Zimbabwe a father was the natural guardian of his children who were born in wedlock;  where children were born out of wedlock, their mother was their natural guardian.  The common law has been modified by the Guardianship of Minors Act [Chapter 5:08] in several respects, principally by giving the High Court power to award guardianship of children to the mother if their parents are divorced or judicially separated or are living apart.  The Act also allows the court to award sole custody to either parent in the event of their divorce or separation, according to the best interests of the children, and states that in the absence of a court order the mother has custody of children if the parents separate.

It is not clear how far the Guardianship of Minors Act applies to persons who are subject to customary law.  Whatever its application, it needs to be amended in the light of section 80(2) of the Constitution, which states:

“Women have the same rights as men regarding the custody and guardianship of children, but an Act of Parliament may regulate how those rights are to be exercised.”

 

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