The Guardianship of Minors Amendment Act, which gives both parents equal rights when it comes to making decisions that affect the future and welfare of a child, was signed into law by President Mnangagwa last week, in a landmark development that moves away from the past when fathers only had the last say.
The Bill had been passed by Parliament in March.
The law amended the Guardianship Act by giving both the father and mother of a child equal rights and allow consultations in making decisions affecting children, changing the law from the present position where the father had the final say although he was supposed to consult.
A clause that empowered parents to give their consent to the marriage of their children aged under 18 has been removed after such marriages were banned, making it impossible for a parent to consent to such a union.
University of Zimbabwe law lecturer, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, yesterday said the main effect of the amendments was to bring equality between parents.
“The main effect of the Act is to bring equality between the father and mother on the guardianship of a child from the previous position where the father had the final say,” he said.
Commenting on the Act while it was being debated in Parliament, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi, said the law did not only seek to align it with the Constitution, but was an important measure for the advancement of women.
He said the custody of a child was the direct personal supervision and care by its parents in the same household.
Guardianship, he said, was the legal right of the parents to have control over and make decisions about the child’s health, religious upbringing, educational, financial and welfare needs.
“If the marriage fails, the custodial parent also has the guardianship rights of the child.
“It is only fair after all, that the parent who must daily supervise the child personally should also have charge of the guardianship rights over it,” said Minister Ziyambi.