Women’s Day: DA marches for child maintenance

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader

On Friday, 9 August, Democratic Alliance supporters marched from the Indian Centre in Kimberley to the City Hall in the CBD to hand over a petition on child maintenance to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

The march and petition handover was a practical exercise through which the DA in the Northern Cape is trying to break the shackles of patriarchy that continue to suppress the rights of women.

Through the march, the DA has made a statement to all the men who see fit to have sexual relations with women, yet do not see fit to take any responsibility for their actions. This, specifically in light of neglecting to pay maintenance for their children. At the same time, we have attempted to raise awareness amongst those parents who are ignorant with regards to their rights to claim maintenance.

The payment of child maintenance is vitally important in helping single mothers to raise children with decent health and education. It also reinforces the responsibility on fathers to assist in the raising of their children.

Hundreds of people, however, are failing to pay child maintenance, resulting in struggling parents and deprived children. At the same time those defaulting on their maintenance payments are simply getting away with it. It is against this backdrop that the DA handed over the petition to the NPA.

It is our submission that the NPA must start working with provincial government departments and law enforcement agencies to ensure that all absent parents pay child maintenance.

In the DA-run Western Cape, authorities previously embarked on a campaign to arrest maintenance defaulters at robots. In the first week of this operation, as many as 150 maintenance defaulters handed themselves over before they could be caught.  In the Western Cape, the provincial government has also introduced a number of other initiatives to tackle the problem of child maintenance defaulters. These include directly supporting beneficiaries in their battle to get support from absent fathers by publishing untraced defaulters’ names, and tasking community development workers to go door-to-door to trace child maintenance beneficiaries.

We firmly believe that by following the lead of the Western Cape in this matter, the Northern Cape government could also help women claim maintenance from absent fathers, and in so doing promote responsible parenting.  However, the state alone cannot succeed in transforming children’s life chances unless parents also fulfill their core responsibilities. In this regard the DA’s message is loud and clear: “Don’t make a baby if you can’t be a father!”