The Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elders and Children, Dr Faustine Ndugulile said the number of complaints over child care filed at local government authorities countrywide increased by 14.8 percent in 2018/2019.
A total of 11,897 complaints were reported in that period compared to 10,815 complaints reported to local government authorities in the 2017/2018 period.
He linked the increase in number of such queries to increased awareness amongst neglected mothers on the importance of soliciting legal authorities for solutions to problems related with child care, through consultations with social welfare officers.
“It is the responsibility of the social welfare officers at local government level to assist neglected mothers to get the necessary requirements for child growth as per the Children's Act No. 21 of 2009 Articles 7 – 9,” he stated.
The Act makes guardians and parents responsible for ensuring that they care for and provide for their children. Article 14 of the Act imposes penalties on parents and guardian who contravene provisions of the Act.
The Deputy Minister said that parents and guardians violating the law are liable for a penalty of not less than 5m/- or six months jail term or both.
He urged neglected mothers to seek consultation in social welfare offices in their specific areas so that appropriate measures can be taken against negligence fathers for the benefit of the children.
He was responding to a question from Special Seats MP, Faida Mohamed Bakari (CCM) who wanted the government to issue a statement to push parents who have neglected their children to fulfill their parental commitments.
She was concerned that most neglected mothers and widows have been facing difficulties in caring for the children single handedly.
According to the Children Act 2009, a father who is not living with the mother of his child is required to contribute to the upkeep of that child until they attain the age of majority, namely 18 years.
In case of divorce it is the court that decides who the child lives with by considering the best interests of that child, whereas children under seven years will live with their mother and the child especially has a right to visit and stay with other parent unless this interferes with the child’s education.