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Nearly 30 000 women last year applied for maintenance at courts countrywide, a significant increase from the 14 000 new cases recorded in 2012.

Harare Metropolitan Province recorded the highest number of applications from women seeking court assistance to make men maintain children.

The figures include those seeking upward variations on existing orders.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi yesterday said a significant number of men also applied for maintenance last year.

“Economic reasons topped the list of reasons why women applied for maintenance. It also clearly indicates that the majority of men forsake their duty to take care of their children,” he said.

“We also had a number of applications from men applying for maintenance. The figures have continuously increased throughout the years.”

Mr Mutevedzi said a rise in infidelity coupled with knowledge of the law also resulted in an increase in maintenance applications.

Lawyer Mr Wellington Pasipanodya said economic problems were the main driver behind new maintenance applications.

“More often than not, the mother of the child is not employed and has to seek legal recourse against the father of the child to enable her to make ends meet,” he said.

“A lot of people are rushing into marriages before they really understand each other. You later realise that you do not want this person, and eventually drag each other to the courts.”

During the hyper-inflationary period of 2008 when the Zimbabwe dollar considerably lost value, the courts handled just 427 cases, but the numbers increased with the introduction of multiple currencies in early 2009.

At least 50 men appear at the Harare Magistrates’ Civil Courts for maintenance hearings daily, according to court records.

In 2011 an estimated 3 040 maintenance cases were recorded, 2 174 in 2010, and the courts handled 1 037 in 2009.

Source : The Herald