Mudede’s officials at the RG’s office had refused to grant Fadeke Obatolu’s child a birth certificate before she changed her surname to that of her husband, Cowden Mutizwa.
But Obatolu, a Zimbabwean citizen overturned the RG’s directive after she engaged human rights lawyer Sarudzayi Njerere who successfully challenged the order through a court application.
Justice Martin Makonese, who heard the application, recently ordered Mudede not to compel Obatolu to change her surname to that of her husband before or after registering the birth of their child.
The ruling means that Mudede can no longer force married women to change their surnames as a condition for acquiring birth certificates for their children.
Most provincial registrars from Mudede’s office were refusing married women a chance to acquire birth certificates for their children without changing their surnames to those of their husbands.
Obatolu took the matter to court after Mudede’s officers turned her husband away, stating Obatolu’s failure to change her surname to her husband’s as the reason for refusing to register the couple’s newly
Trouble started when Mutizwa visited Mount Pleasant District Registry to procure a birth certificate for his son. When Mutizwa returned to the registry for the third time on 25 October last year, two men, a Mr Marufu and Mr Zuze informed him that Obatolu had to change her surname to Mutizwa “before the birth of the child could be registered.”
Two days later, Obatolu went to Mount Pleasant District Registry and spoke to Marufu and Zuze, who stood by their stance that she changes her surname first.
Obatolu’s victory is likely to end the agony that most women endure at Mudede’s offices as they will now be able to rely on the order as precedent.