Maternity challenge: AG ordered to make submissions

HARARE - The Constitutional Court (Con-Court) has ordered Attorney General (AG), Prince Machaya, to file submissions and ventilate issues in a case in which a woman has made a maternity leave challenge.

The applicant, Emelda Mhuriro, approached the Con-Court challenging the constitutionality of Sections 18 (1) and (3) of the Labour Act.

The statutes only allow female employees who have served at least one year to go on fully-paid maternity leave thrice with one employer.

They also limit women on the number of maternity leave they can take and deny the newly-employed the right to maternity leave.

Mhuriro — represented by Caleb Mucheche — argued that the laws are unconstitutional as they violate Section 65 (7) of the Constitution, which offers unrestricted fully-paid maternity leave as a right to all working women.

Vernanda Munyoro, from the AG’s office, yesterday told the full Con-Court bench that they were not opposed to Mhuriro’s request.

However, the judges expressed reservations in the AG’s stance, adding that a ruling in Mhuriro’s favour cannot just be granted without the issues having been ventilated, since the case is of national interest.

Deputy chief justice, Luke Malaba, said the AG was taking the case for granted and treating it lightly, yet it is a matter of public interest.

He asked the AG to file submissions to assist the court in making an informed decision on the matter.

“The court has decided that it needs the benefit of submissions from the attorney general on the question of locus standi and whether the impugned provisions are a reasonably justifiable limitation of the constitutional right. The matter is accordingly postponed sine die to enable the attorney general to make the required submissions,” Malaba said.

In her application, Mhuriro cited Public Service minister Prisca Mupfumira, Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, Women’s Affairs minister Nyasha Chikwinya and Machaya as respondents.

In her court papers, Mhuriro argued that Section 65 (7) of the Constitution guaranteed unlimited right to maternity leave to all female employees.

She said the violation of that Section is not reasonably justified in a democratic society, adding that it is contrary to the International Labour Organisation’s conventions on maternity leave and women’s rights.

“Women employees have a right to fully-paid maternity leave for a period of at least three months. Clearly Section 18 (1) of the Labour Act is ultra- vires Sections 65 (7) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and runs foul to Section 2 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” Mucheche argued.

Comments (1)

I just wsh to get a lengthy paid maternity leave.. I will soon find out.. 13 weeks now and counting. still can't believe this will matter to me now, after cycles of pregnancytips that is.

georgina - 20 September 2016

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.