|Married women free to retain maiden names|
|Friday, 05 August 2011 02:00|
By Daniel Nemukuyu
The Registrar-General's Office has reportedly been insisting that all married women under this law were supposed to drop their maiden surnames and assume their husbands' before getting birth certificates for their children.
However, the RG's Office in Gweru on Wednesday issued a birth certificate to Tavonga Jeremiah Chimuriwo, son to a Harare couple that recently filed a Supreme Court application challenging a policy that compels married women to revoke their maiden names to obtain birth certificates for their children.
Harare lawyer Mr Lawman Chimuriwo and his wife Ms Cynthia Aufi last month filed a constitutional application challenging the policy, saying it was unconstitutional.
Before the case was heard, the RG's Department, through its lawyers, instructed its Gweru office to issue the birth certificate.
Despite the issuance of the birth certificate, the family's lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu, maintained that he was pursuing the case for the Supreme Court to declare the policy unconstitutional for the benefit of the whole nation.
"As far as I am concerned, we are not withdrawing the Supreme Court application. I am actually preparing heads of argument for filing at the Supreme Court in respect of the matter," said Adv Mpofu.
"What prompted the filing of this application was the existence of an unlawful policy. There is no indication that the policy has been done away with.
According to the court file SC 151/11, Mushonga, Mutsvairo and Associates on July 29 notified the court that the RG was opposing the application but indicated that the opposing affidavit would be filed shortly.
Both Mr Chimuriwo and his lawyers confirmed they had not received the RG's response to the application.
According to the couple, officials at the RG's Office informed them that the issue of relinquishing the maiden name was a policy from the RG.
According to their application, there was no law in Zimbabwe that supported the policy and that it was in breach of certain provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
The parents argue that their son was being rendered Stateless, a development that cannot be countenanced in terms of municipal or international law.
The officials refused to help her, ordering her to first relinquish her maiden name before obtaining the birth certificate.
"Respondents (RG and the Gweru office) do not have the equitable jurisdiction to withhold the minor child's identity on the basis of a policy position that does not enjoy the support of the law," said Mr Chimuriwo.
Mr Chimuriwo argues that such deprivation constituted inhuman treatment to the child.
"This is for the simple reason that the idea of a name is inseparable from the idea of humanity. I have not known of a human being who has no name," he said.