The case involves a same-sex couple where only one of the couple is a Namibian. They have had a child by surrogacy, and now applied for the child to be granted Namibian citizenship by descent. The minister of home affairs and immigration objected, saying there should first be a paternity test to establish whether the biological father was in fact the Namibian man rather than his partner. Now the court has found against the minister, saying there is no requirement in law for a ‘biological link’ between child and parent. The judge also used the opportunity to speak strongly against official discrimination saying it was unconstitutional and should not be allowed to flourish.
The high court in Kenya has taken a strong line on protection of personal data related to the government’s new ‘huduma’ identity cards. The cards are meant to do away with the need for many cards related to various government services – ID, passport, clinic cards, driving licences and others. Collection and collation of the data needed for the new, all-encompassing cards has already taken place and the cards are now available for collection. However, a court challenge to the government’s failure to put in place any screen that would protect the privacy of the individual, has just been finalised in the high court, Nairobi. The presiding judge, Ngaah Jairus, has held that the government put the cart before the horse and that it was unconstitutional to have collected data without first ensuring the constitutional right to privacy would be protected.
The Malawi law society has lost the first round in its battle over turf: it had asked the high court to squash an investigation being planned by the legal affairs committee of the national assembly. The investigation could see a recommendation that paralegals be allowed to defend certain cases in the magistrates’ courts. However, Judge Mike Tembo refused to stop the inquiry, and said the action reminded the court ‘of the colonial days … in which the law severely limited black people’s political participation’.
Two new judgments from the courts in Kenya and Zimbabwe underline changing judicial views about the role of women in building up a family home and the contribution that women, as wives and mothers, may be said, on divorce, to have made. One stresses with new urgency that women who work in the home should stand up for their rights and, at divorce, be prepared to give evidence in court about the significance of their contribution to the home. The other notes that despite progressive decisions by the courts, at divorce most men still undervalue the contribution of women and are unwilling to agree to an equal share in the matrimonial property.
A group of pregnant school learners, the boyfriends by whom they were pregnant, and the parents of some of them, have been awarded damages for their ‘arrest’ and conviction under community by-laws. Sentenced to pay fines, they were kept in police cells until the fines were paid in full. Now, however, the fines must be repaid, along with damages. The exact amount of damages due was finalised last week by the assistant high court registrar who also warned that community by-laws did not amount to formal law. They could thus not be enforced through the formal legal system which did not, in any event, recognise pregnancy as an ‘offence’.