HomeLocal NewsUndenge challenges daughter’s maintenance

Undenge challenges daughter’s maintenance

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Energy and Power Development minister Samuel Undenge’s appeal seeking to cease maintaining his teenage daughter, Bongani Tafadzwa Undenge, was yesterday heard at the High Court before judges of appeal Justices Lavender Makoni and Hlekani Mwayera.

BY CHARLES LAITON

Through his lawyer Farai Nyamayaro, the minister insisted he had no obligation to continue maintaining his daughter, who is now a major, despite the fact that she was still pursuing tertiary education.

The lawyer said the magistrate, who granted Bongani a $350 maintenance order after she had approached the court for her personal maintenance, grossly erred as the latter was no longer entitled to maintenance.

In his founding affidavit, Undenge said he was not happy with the magistrate’s ruling that ordered him to keep on supporting Bongani until “she became self-supportive”.

“The order itself is vague. It states that the maintenance order should be complied with until the child is self-supportive. When does a major become self-supportive?” Nyamayaro asked.

“Should the respondent [Bongani] become self-supportive at 55 years, will the applicant (Undenge) still be required to comply with the order? Clearly the order is vague and difficult to comply with.”

As Nyamayaro continued with his address, Justice Mwayera asked him how best he felt the magistrate ought to have couched the order, to which he replied: “The order should have said until the child finishes her university studies, and to be specific, a local university, not abroad.”

Justice Mwayera further asked Nyamayaro if he was aware of what the Constitution says in relation to children’s education and training, in particular the “35-year” age issue, to which he said he was still maintaining his stance.

In response to Undenge’s application, Bongani, through her lawyer Rumbidzayi Venge, said the ministers’ application lacked merit and should be dismissed with costs.

“The learned magistrate properly granted the order and the amount in question,” Venge said.

“It was not the legislature’s intention, through the Maintenance Act, to leave children who would have attained the age of 18 to be destitute and vulnerable. The respondent is still going to school and this is why the magistrate granted maintenance in her favour.

“It is my fear that if the court rules in applicant’s favour, flood-gates will be opened for fathers to shake off responsibility.”

Venge further said, instead of filing an appeal against the maintenance order, Undenge should have made an application for downward variation if he felt the amount granted was on the higher side.

Judgment in the matter was reserved.

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