Where does sovereignty lie?

Perhaps one of the best known contributions of Jonathan Moyo to the Zimbabwe’s political scene was popularizing the phrase “the People have spoken” during his time as chairman of the Constitutional Commission in 2000. What he meant was that the “NO” vote that had carried the day was an expression of the people’s will and that had to be respected, a clear demonstration that sovereignty lies with the people. I believe the same could be said of the historic elections in 1980 that propelled ZANU PF under Prime Minister Robert Mugabe to form the first post independent majority rule government. The people had spoken, giving the new government the mandate to act on their behalf, thus representing their best interests for the common good.

However, politicians have mastered the art of portraying that they call the shots and that they are the chefs who determine course of events in any country. Of course, they do call the shots because the masses have surrendered and allowed them to.  One looks for instance at elected leaders who expect to benefit from been elected at the expense of the electorate. They even have the audacity to demand benefits such as fancy SUV cars, houses, and hefty allowances. When you call them for meetings they don’t even turn up and demand the electorate to make appointments to see them. Such is the calibre of leaders we have in the country.

However, the fact of the matter is that “power” is a myth, a creation of the mind, and the art to sustain that power is to manipulate all the resources at one’s disposal to sustain that myth. Leaders are only as powerful as we allow them to be, and, once we withdraw that support, we leave them bare. Politicians certainly make it appear as if society cannot do without them, yet, in a very real sense, the masses are always more powerful. Leaders are as strong as the masses want them to be. They ride on the mandate and willingness of the people to subject themselves to be ruled by them. It is the masses that can say enough is enough and may decide to recall politicians. The masses are the chefs and every citizen has that power in him/herself to assert that right to be governed. Leaders ride on the popularity of the support they enjoy from the people and that support can shrink if they are not in touch with reality. Never mind the heavy security they have around them armed with state-of-the-art military artillery. It is an attempt to create a false sense of power and control. The masses, and their consent to be ruled, will always outlive the leaders, which is why sovereignty lies with the people.

The sad thing is that people seem to have resigned from politics (and not only in Zimbabwe), and have left it for the politicians to do as they please. Yet politicians need the masses more than we need them. That is why they come back after five years of looting and amassing wealth, to seek a fresh mandate from the people to govern. That is why they will do everything in their power to ensure that the electoral results are in their favour, even rigging to make it appear they have a legitimate mandate from the people. Without a support base from the masses, a once powerful politician is a nobody. I don’t know how many leaders in Zimbabwe today can openly claim that they have masses following behind them. If they have none, they are illegitimate.

Responsible citizens put their leaders to task, and have the right to make demands because they have the power to do so. If a leader thinks otherwise, “power” has gotten into his/her head, and that can be resolved easily by withdrawing that support. They will be like fish out of the water. It is the reason why it is irresponsible to abstain from the voting processes and protest by staying away. The fact is that leaders have to account, and, by abstaining from voting, we are allowing a minority to determine who represents us.

Photo accredited to http://www.zimsituation.com

The Coming Elections in Zimbabwe.

Please take time to follow this link and read an article by Andrew Iliff, a Zimbabwean studying at Yale University in the United States:


New UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

On the 22nd June 2012 the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Zainab Hawa Bangura, currently the Minister of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone, as his new Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Zainab Hawa Bangura

She will replace Margot Wallström, who had served in the position since it was created two years ago.

According to a statement from Mr. Ban’s spokesperson, Ms. Bangura brings to the position over 20 years of policy, diplomatic and practical experience in the field of governance, conflict resolution and reconciliation in Africa. She has been instrumental in developing national programmes on affordable health as well as advocating for the elimination of genital mutilation.

She is also experienced in meeting with interlocutors in diverse situations, including rebel groups, and familiar in dealing with State and non-State actors relevant to issues of sexual violence while fighting corruption and impunity.

“She is an experienced results-driven civil society, human and women’s right campaigner and democracy activist,” the statement added.

Creating Schools as Zones of Peace.

One of the best celebrated statistics in Zimbabwe over the years since Independence in 1980 has been the high literacy rate largely as a result of the policy of providing basic education to every child up to Ordinary level (Form 4). The policy also ensured the construction of schools throughout the country and deliberate efforts were made to encourage adult learning. These gains are under threat, unfortunately, and it all has to do with the politics of contestation. RAU recently published a report documenting teachers’ experiences with election violence since 2000, with teachers reporting that they were subjected to targeted violence because they were perceived as sympathisers of opposition political parties.

The report revealed that schools were setup as militia bases, leading up to and during election periods, where teachers were summoned for various acts including assaults, being taught the liberation history of Zimbabwe, among others. Some of the military activities took place in front of children during working hours, where teachers were violated, humiliated and, in some cases, female teachers sexually abused. The message was clear for all children to warn their parents how “sell-outs” would be dealt with. And interestingly, some students became informants, keeping an eye on their teachers, who had to find survival strategies by way of fleeing the communities resulting in more than 94% of schools in the rural areas being closed at one point.

Rural Schoolchildren in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is not in a state of war but the periods around elections, since 2000, frequently resembled a state of war, reminiscent of the liberation war, where villagers and communities would flee and schools would close. The United Nations Security Council in July 2011 unanimously adopted Resolution 1998 which affirmed other earlier resolutions on the protection of children in situations of armed conflict, declaring “schools and hospitals off limits for both armed groups and military activities, asking the Secretary-General for such crimes to be placed on a list of those committing “grave violations against children.” The text of Resolution 1998 expressed concern about attacks and the threat of attacks on schools and/or hospitals, including attacks on personnel in relation to them and the closure of the institutions in times of conflict and threat of attack.

As a member state of the United Nations, Zimbabwe must take positive steps to refrain from attacks on education and advance the rights of Children. The positive steps would be to take action and stop violence and the exposure of children to violence during times of elections. That commitment could also be demonstrated by putting in place legislation that prevents the use of schools for political purposes, because this practice exposes children to violence. The commitment would unite communities in defending the rights of children, especially girls. It would   ensure that schools were safe zones for learning, especially in rural areas where the highest incidences of violence was recorded, and also that traditional leaders were not ZANU PF bootlickers who terrorise teachers because they are perceived to be opposition members.

Promoting the right to education is a sure sign that a country is investing in human capital. The concept of “Safe Schools” is incomplete without also ensuring that the personnel associated with education is safe. Through the Education Transitional Fund (ETF) the child text book ratio has improved but the political hindrances have also to be addressed, and this is the challenge Minister Coltart must address. We cannot afford to continuously have schools attain a zero percentage “pass rate” because schools were closed for the better part of the year and also because politicians use school facilities for electioneering.

If you would like to read our 2 reports written as a result of our teachers’ survey go to: http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org

Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference – Pastoral Letter – Zimbabweans in the Diaspora

Please follow this link to read the letter: http://mdctsa.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/zimbabwe-catholic-bishops-conference-pastoral-letter-addressed-to-zimbabweans-in-the-diaspora.pdf

In this letter the Bishops are wanting to give recognition and hope to those Zimbabweans living in the diaspora who may feel abandoned by their country, Zimbabwe.

Many of these people are economic migrants and don’t qualify for refugee status in their adopted countries.Most of them left in times of elections when violence rates increased considerably and people thought to support the opposition parties were targeted. Especially in South Africa, many of these people live in dire circumstances and are targeted for xenophobic attacks.

Do women really matter?

Over the past two years, Margot Wallström, a Swedish politician with a long history of defending women’s rights, has served as the United Nations Secretary-General’s first Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. During her tenure, in December 2010, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1960, which put in place the tools for more systematic monitoring and reporting of sexual violence, and for the identification of perpetrators.

Margot Wallstrom

Ms Wallström was interviewed by the UN News Centre on the eve of her departure early this month (June) from her post; she was asked what affected or impressed her the most during her term. In response she said “All these amazing women. They pick up their lives, they go on. They’re very often discriminated against. They live with violence and rapes. At the same time, they contribute so much and they have to be given a voice and influence. Without that, there cannot be a true democracy and there cannot be peace without giving women peace. They are also my biggest inspiration and hope.”

RAU has just released a report entitled “Do we really matter? Women’s voices on politics, participation, and violence”, based on focus group discussions held over several weeks. The purpose of the discussions was to talk about political violence against women in light of the imminent elections in Zimbabwe. Although Margot Wallström never came to Zimbabwe during her term as the Special Representative, nor met the women in these focus groups (nor the many women we have worked with over the years), her words resonated with me, and I felt she was talking about the Zimbabwean women. We do not recognise or acknowledge the roles that women play in our society, living with extreme violence and discrimination, yet they pick themselves up continue with their lives.  If we do not address political violence against women, particularly sexual violence we cannot say we live in a peaceful democratic society.

This report is a contribution to ensure that the women of Zimbabwe are given a voice; my hope is the long arm of the law will catch up with the perpetrators and that people will think twice before planning, organising, inciting or perpetrating violence against women during the referendum and any future elections.

Read the full report at http://www.researchandadvocacyunit.org

Samba or Sanitation?

What exactly is it that Zimbabwe is contributing at the Earth Summit in Brazil when it is a serious offender on environmental issues? Let me name a few:

-An outdated water system, with rusted pipes which regularly spring leaks which are left unattended for days, and sometimes weeks or months, resulting in the loss of thousands of litres of precious treated drinking water.

-Drilling of numerous boreholes due to the shortage of municipal water which will lead to huge reductions in groundwater levels.

-Widespread pollution because of littering and burning of garbage, including plastics releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere.

-Failure to educate the population on environmental matters resulting in the dumping of garbage in open spaces.

-Unreliability of the municipal garbage collection system resulting in massive litter dumps in residential areas and the clogging of roadside drains in cities.

-Widespread land clearing resulting in the chopping down of precious trees by newly resettled farmers on commercial farming land.

-The chopping down of trees for firewood as a consequence of regular power outages by ZESA. (Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority)

- The pollution of rivers with effluent because of the inadequate sewage systems in High Density suburbs.

Garbage clogging a stream in Zimbabwe

These are only a few of the smaller activities which result in the degradation of the environment.

Some of the larger ones include:

-Development and building of residential areas and hotels on precious wetlands.

-Attempts to develop hotels and prospecting for minerals in precious national parks such as Mana Pools which is a World Heritage Site.

One wonders why such a huge delegation of 92 has travelled to the Rio Earth Summit which has cost Zimbabweans US$7 million.  What will that delegation achieve besides increasing the country’s carbon footprint by a significant amount due to the fossil fuels burnt in the planes transporting them? Imagine how the money would have been better spent had it been invested in improving our environment by cleaning up our filthy cities. Also, how much more so would our environment be improved had the money been put into policing industries that are dumping toxic waste into lakes and rivers? And how much more so would the state of our environment have been improved   had that same amount of money been invested into developing environment friendly systems of transportation?

Why has this delegation been allowed to travel? Is it because they are passionate about the environment, or is it just so they can sample the wonderful shops in Rio de Janeiro!

Being a Refugee.

In November 2009, I administered a questionnaire to Zimbabwean refugees living in South Africa. Through this experience I gained insight into the link between forced migration and transitional justice. On my last day, I had an experience that increased my appreciation of the plight of refugees. A woman came to the hotel where I stayed. She had heard about the survey and wanted to tell her story. The hotel would not let her onto their premises so I had to meet her on the street. The sight of her broke my heart. Her clothes were tattered. Her skin was a black-grey colour- a sign that she had not bathed in days. The baby on her back was crying incessantly. “She is hungry,” she explained, “She has not had anything to eat for days.” As she spoke I found myself struggling to hold back my tears.


I could not interview her in the hotel. “She will cause discomfort for the other guests,” the hotel manager informed me. The street was not an option either, with the baby incessantly crying and the car horns blaring. She insisted she wanted her story to be heard. We walked together and the sight of a fruit stall I stopped to buy her a few bananas and oranges so she could feed her baby. The child quieted down and the woman began her story.


Several young men had come to her home at night in one of the rural towns of Zimbabwe. Her father was perceived to belong to the wrong political party. These men tied up her mother and father and set their hut ablaze, burning them alive. They dragged her into the forest where they raped her, one after the other then left her for dead. She had no idea which one of them was the father of her baby. She had run away from home, walked miles on foot, and begged for passage aboard any vehicle heading for South Africa. She was smuggled across the border because she did not possess valid travel documents. With no money the only thing she could give was her body; more abuse. She had believed she would be safe but in South Africa all she found was more victimisation, hunger, poverty, loneliness and pain; “I had a home. I had family. I am educated, you know. I wanted to be a nurse.”


All I could give her were a few bananas and contacts of organisations that might help her. I wish I could have done more. Many other people face the same fate. They had homes, lives, families, hopes and aspirations, all lost through no fault of their own. The African adage “when giants fight it is the grass that suffers” applies as conflicts rage on and citizens suffer, become refugees and are ostracised in the countries to which they flee. Meanwhile, those responsible for their losses remain ensconced in their grandeur, surrounded by thousands of bodyguards to ensure their protection.

Zimbabwean Refugees in South Africa


Apart from violent conflict, persecution and imprisonment of political opponents has become one of the leading causes of refugee influxes. Massive abuses of human rights, monopolisation of political and economic power, disrespect for democratic processes such as elections, resistance to popular participation in governance, and poor management of public affairs were key factors that triggered forced displacements in Zimbabwe. In Burma, the suppression of minority tribal groups by a military that wants to impose the supremacy of the majority ethnicity, has led many people to flee the country. Dissenting political voices are persecuted in China, Ethiopia and Iran. Sudan currently has the largest IDP population in Africa owing to targeted attacks on Nubians in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states and on Darfuris. In Somalia and Ethiopia; war and famine have driven many away from their homes, resulting in the great numbers of refugees at Dadaab camp on the Somali/Kenyan border.


The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reveals that nearly 28 per cent (3.2 million) of the world’s twelve million refugees are in Africa, with nine of the top twenty ‘refugee-producing’ countries being in Africa. A 2009 report from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) covering 21 African countries estimated that there were 11.6 million IDPs in these countries, representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s total IDPs. Indeed, forced displacement has reached chronic levels. It has been recently reported that in 2011, 48 of the least developed countries provided asylum to a total of 2.3 million refugees. These figures point out how much more the Developed World still needs to do to assist with the plight of refugees.


When refugees flee from their homes, they seek security from the threats to their life and liberty. Fleeing however does not guarantee security; it merely exchanges one form of vulnerability for another. In camps they are restricted to isolated, insecure areas. If assimilated into the society they are often thrust into hostile societies with xenophobic tendencies. Women and girls may be subjected to rape, sexual violence, human trafficking and abductions for purposes of forced marriage by male family members, security personnel stationed by the government, and leaders and agency officials delivering aid. Young men and boys are forcibly conscripted into militia forces. Violent clashes with local populations over land and resources are also common, Kenya being an example. More often than not, states are either unable or unwilling to provide refugees with assistance.


Attitudes towards refugees must change. The first necessity is to realise that a refugee today was a national of another country yesterday with a home, a job, hopes and aspirations. Second, refugees are victims of circumstances beyond their control. Third, legal regimes that portray refugees as the ‘other’ breed resentment in local populations leading to xenophobic attacks. These legal regimes must be transformed. Fourth, instead of ostracising refugees, host countries and the global community should ostracise the political leaders, rebel movements or any other groups responsible for forcing the refugees to flee their homes. This should include but is not limited to, freezing their assets, denying them travel access, preventing them from accessing arms or weapons used to destroy whole populations and pushing for processes that hold perpetrators of human right violations against refugees accountable for their actions.

An open letter to Major General Martin Chedondo.

This letter was written in response to our post on Patriotism dated 6th June 2012:

Dear General,

Some 65 years ago, observing the men in the dock at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals, an American journalist coined the enduring phrase “the banality of evil”.

In a month, during which Patrick Chinamasa has been busy applying lipstick to the toad of Zimbabwe’s human rights record for the benefit of the UN Human Rights Commissioner, and you and a fellow General have hinted at army preparations to redeploy the tactic of intimidation and violence utilised during the 2008 elections, that phrase has often come to mind.

Throughout the inter-election period in 2008, the Zimbabwean Association Doctor’s for Human Rights (ZADHR) produced a series of reports documenting the atrocities which were taking place. To ensure the credibility of these reports, only objective information, detailing the injuries sustained by the victims of violence, was included. As one of those involved in their documentation, I was acutely aware that much of the harrowing detail and personal stories behind those injuries was never published.  However, with the spectre of a return to violent intimidation in the upcoming elections, I would like to draw the following to your attention:

Firstly, to place this letter in context and for the benefit of our perfidious Minister of Justice and his ilk, who seem to have air-brushed the events of 2008 from their memories, what follows is an excerpt from a human rights report for the first week of May 2008:

“One hospital in Harare has treated an average of 23 victims a day over the last week. On the 8th of May, there were a total of 53 more seriously injured patients (13 females and 40 males) admitted to wards in three Harare hospitals. These included one 30 year old man on life support in the intensive care unit with severe, irreversible head injuries and a 30 year old man with severe soft tissue injuries to the buttocks and secondary renal failure, also on life support. Both of these patients died later that day. Also admitted was a 3yr old boy with trauma to his right eye from being struck with a rock and a 78 year old man with a fractured lower leg from blunt trauma.   One young breast-feeding mother had bilateral fractures of her hands and was unable to hold her baby to feed her. Among the other patients, 20 had defensive, forearm or hand fractures, 5 had leg fractures and 1 fractured ribs.  Fourteen patients had severe injuries to the buttocks from blunt trauma which required surgery for the removal of necrotic (dead) tissue.  The perpetrators in all cases were alleged by the victims to be war veterans and Zanu PF supporters. Similar patterns of injuries are being reported from other hospitals”

In April of 2008, as a member of a local NGO, I was tasked with interviewing hospitalised victims of political violence. Over a period of several days, I interviewed 52 men and women, ranging in age from 18 to 68 years. All of them resided in communal areas and most were ordinary villagers. They were not political activists and none admitted membership of a political party.  It seems their only crime was to have been suspected of voting “incorrectly”.  They had injuries similar to those of the victims described in the press release above. The vast majority stated that they had been beaten by gangs of youths led and directed by men in army uniforms or known war veterans.

It is not possible to recount their individual stories here, but one story stands out in my memory and will serve to illustrate the point I wish to make. It was that of an 18 year old village boy who told me of how a group of militia came to his village in the night and gathered all the young men. They conducted a pungwe (an all-night vigil), accompanied by alcohol, political speeches, slogans, songs and dancing. At around midnight, the leader announced they were all to proceed to the next village where they were to beat up the occupants who were deemed to be “sellouts”. This young man had refused and saying that he had known those people all of his life and that some of them were his friends. He couldn’t do it. So the thugs had beaten him instead. I recorded that he had a fractured arm and leg and had welts and bruises over his buttocks and back. However his spirit was very much intact and at the end of the interview, he told me with a sardonic smile that he had actually voted voluntarily for ZanuPF in the first round of the elections. He had recounted his story proudly and bristling with defiance which left me with no doubt that given the choice, he would make the same decision again.

And that, General, is the point of this letter. You must agree with me that the purpose of this carefully planned and methodical campaign of unrestrained and merciless brutality was not to punish, but to instil fear; sufficient fear to guarantee that the rural population would vote “correctly” in the run-off election.  But here is the rub, just like that brave village lad, none of the 52 people I interviewed, showed any sign of fear. They were not, as you may have imagined, a broken, cowering and pliable rural peasantry. They told their stories with dignity, stoicism and courage. The one emotion they had in common was anger; a deep and abiding anger at the affront to their human dignity.

This was for me a profoundly humbling and inspiring experience but one I have no wish to repeat. I came away convinced that your strategy had failed and that none of the victims, their relatives or fellow villagers would ever vote for your party again.

Therefore, General, if you and your comrades are seriously contemplating a return to the tactics of 2008, I beg you to consider the following:

Firstly, dwell on the law of unintended consequences. Do not underestimate the dignity, resilience and courage ordinary Zimbabweans.

Then have regard for the thousands of innocent young men whose minds you will fill with hatred and distorted history and then cause to do evil things, for this will rank as your greatest crime.

And finally, you should study the lessons of history, recent and past, perhaps remembering the eventual fate of the once smug, arrogant men who sat in that Nuremberg dock 65 years ago.

Yours sincerely

Dr Greg Powell

I would claim $3000 too.

I think I can be forgiven if I declare that I really believe that the society I live in is somewhat full of misogynists-men who hate women. Well, here is why I say so. It takes a commercial sex worker (who my society loves calling prostitutes or hookers) and a male client (whom I would like to call the sniffing dog) to commit an act of prostitution. The client hires the commercial sex worker, and then the two have consensual sex. But guess who is labeled-the woman. Guess who is arrested if they are caught together- the woman. Guess who is arrested for loitering for purposes of soliciting for sex-the woman. As if the man did not want exactly the same things that the woman wanted too.

Let me give you another example. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl likes boy. Boy and girl have sex. Who gets pregnant-girl. Who is responsible-both. Who should have been more responsible and had insisted on using protection-both. But if they were in school most schools will expel the girl and the boy will continue with his education despite the existence of policies and laws that encourage giving support to such girls. Girl will be ostracised for being loose and boy will receive pats on the back for impregnating her-he is a man after all and has proved he can ‘father’ children. Boy will deny responsibility and deny he ever had sex with girl. If girl decides she cannot take care of the baby and would not be able to bear the responsibility alone and decides to abort, boy will be the first person to report her to the police so she can be arrested. Abortion is illegal in Zimbabwe.

Boy will spread the news about how girl is an unfeeling creature who killed her own baby before it was even born. Girl will again be ostracised by society, men and women included.

If girl feels strongly about abortion, decides not to abort, keeps the pregnancy but decides she still is not ready for the responsibility and informally gives the child for adoption by leaving the baby on the doorstep of an orphanage or formally gives the baby up for adoption by choosing a couple that wants the baby; the same boy and society- by and large- will castigate her for being unfeeling and cold. How can a woman give up her own child for adoption? They ask.

If girl decides to keep the pregnancy, give birth and keep the baby, then all her life she will be referred to as ‘the’ single mother. The derogatory term in Shona is “mvana ine mwana wayo.” Mothers will not want their sons to marry such a woman and in most cases if she finds a man who loves her and marries her, she always has to contend with the monsters-in-law, especially the sisters in law and the mother in law. Men will assume that she is easily available for nothing more than a romp between the sheets.

Anyway to tell my story, I was reading the Herald-online of the 15th of June 2012 when I came across this headline: “Lawyer demands US$3 000 maintenance.” As the story goes, the lawyer is a single mother, Zimbabwean, based in the United Kingdom who has been taking care of her son single-handedly for the past 14 years. However the father of her son is a known individual, running a very successful transport and fuel business, which all in Zimbabwe know has big money and profits.

The lawyer requested $3000 maintenance for her child per month from this filthy rich man who probably spends that much on beer and whisky or small houses (concubines) every month. The man refused to pay that sum and said he can afford to pay $200 only because he has a big family of 7 other children and that his business does not make that much money.

Apart from this man’s attitude, the comments that readers of this article also made left me livid, for a lack of a better word. Here are a few that especially made me furious:

KuDiaspora zvinhu hazvichafaya! Dzoka kumusha kana zvanetsa….but you risk becoming one of the unemployed 80%!

Life in the Diaspora is not working for you anymore. Come back home but you risk becoming one [part] of the unemployed 80%.

Usamupe shagi iroro. Ari kuda kupihwa mari yekunolazwa nedzimwe boyz. Ngaachengete mwana akanyarara. Ari kuda murume kupfuura zvese zvemaintanance zvaari kutaura. Who doesn’t know kuti varume vanonetsa kuwana kuDiaspora.

Do not give her that money. She just wants to get money that she will spend with other men. She should take care of her child and not complain. In fact she wants this man more than the maintenance and is using the maintenance claim as a front. Who doesn’t know that men are hard to find in the diaspora?

All these years where was the mother, [the] recession yamukwadza [has affected her]. The father should demand parental rights 3 days a week and request the judge to force amai ivava nemwana [the mother and the child] to return to Zimbabwe so that the father will have a relationship nemwana wavo [with his child] since she said he has Zimbabwean citizen[ship].

You do not just harvest where you have not sown like the MDC.


Well here are some facts to all these people who made these comments:

  1. A man should not pay maintenance because he wants to; he has to pay maintenance because it is his responsibility to do so. The same way a father who lives in his home should take care of his children, so should a father who impregnates a woman anywhere. He fathered the child and he must take care of it.
  2. Women do not ask for maintenance because they can not afford to take care of the children alone. Yes, there are some women who will desperately need that help and without it would not manage. But all women have a right to claim maintenance as a matter of principle. If you bring a child onto this planet  then you must be responsible for that child’s upkeep. If you know you can not do so, then giving up the child for adoption is a far  nobler decision as the child will be with people who want him/her and will have his/her best interests at heart.
  3. A woman has the right to claim for maintenance from the father of her child at any point that she feels she wants to. Her reasons for not making the claim earlier are her own. Maybe she was too traumatized by the ordeal of his rejection to want anything to do with him. It may be that she could afford to take care of everything and now she can’t. It may be that he could not afford to take care of his child and she actually felt sorry for him. It may be a lot of reasons and none of them matters. What matters is that in the case of this woman lawyer, at this moment the man can afford to take care of his own child, he ought to have tried doing so all his life and should be ashamed for even trying to talk his way out of it.
  4. In every situation, where adults have wrangles over the welfare of their children, the best interests of the child are the priority. In other words, whatever circumstances work best to give the child the best care, best welfare, best peaceful and safe environment that promotes his/her growth physically, emotionally and mentally should be the one that he/she should be given as a matter of choice.
  5.  Also, visitation rights by a father who has no custody or guardianship rights over a child are not a precondition for a claim for maintenance from a mother who is taking care of the child. There are some men who pay maintenance but do not want to see the child at all. In this case, should the man want to see his child then he would have to work out an arrangement with the mother to see the child. The mother has created the best conditions so far, for her child to have a life. The decision to move to the UK was probably in the best interests of her child because had she not done so she would not have been able to take care of him- and the father has not contributed a single penny to the life of this 14 year old. Surely demanding that this child be brought back to Zimbabwe to live here permanently may not be in the best interests of the child.

All those who think this woman is being vindictive or that she is being a gold digger should try taking of a child for 14 good years with no help from anyone else. They should go through the stages of giving birth to and bringing up a child from 0 to 14, all alone and if they still think it is a stroll in the park they can come back to me and convince me that this woman is making an unreasonable claim. Why is she expected to continue suffering in silence? Why is her claim being questioned at all when it is her right to claim maintenance and the right of her child to be taken care of by his own father? If I were this woman and if I knew the amount of money this man makes yet he has not done a single thing for his 14 year old child since birth, I would claim a reasonable sum like $3000 per month too.