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DAWN hails Maintenance Amendment Act

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The Democratic Alliance Women’s Network (DAWN) has hailed the signing of the Maintenance Amendment Act by President Jacob Zuma as a victory for women in South Africa, with the changes set to enforce strict measures on defaulters who fail to pay up on maintenance. DAWN has been one of the leading voices advocating for the act to be implemented.

It follows prior criticism upon the initial signing of the document. While all parties were in agreement with the implementation of the act, the ruling party at the last minute withdrew its support on a certain clause. Clause 11 would have seen provisions made for defaulters to be blacklisted on the basis of non-payment of maintenance.

“This we felt was very unfortunate because there had been support throughout the nation for this. There are too many people who evade their responsibilities and do not make provisions for payment of maintenance for their children,” said Denise Robinson, federal leader of DAWN.

In response, DAWN set up a campaign involving a series of protests and pickets outside the countries courts as well as parliament to protest the move. Furthermore, a petition was drafted and signed by over 20 000 signatories to have clause 11 reinstated.

According to Robinson, this led to the ruling party ‘buckling under pressure’ and agreeing to bring back the clause.

“We are delighted this bill has been agreed to by the President,” she stated.

She said the clause would serve as a warning to defaulters that they could not carry on living on credit, and accessing money for the use of luxury purchases whilst neglecting their basic responsibilities as a parent.

The challenge now would be in the enforcement of the act. While all frameworks are now in place, Robinson said the laws need simply be enforced.

“Now we have to look at the maintenance courts themselves, which are notoriously inefficient. Part of the problem is that they are underfunded. Because there is underfunding, there is a shortage staff and people become demotivated. But this is no different from the general justice system. It is a challenge that we have, but we are going to work very hard at it,” she added. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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