030214. Holiday Inn Express Hotel in Rosebank. Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille during the news conferences following Sunday’s announcement that the alliance between Mamphela Ramphele and the DA had fallen through. 346 Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Cape Town - An estimated 9 million South African children are growing up without resident fathers.

DA leader Helen Zille and members of the DA Women’s Network (Dawn) responded to this by gathering outside Parliament on Wednesday, noisily demanding papgeld (child maintenance).

Dawn has launched a campaign to demand that Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies implement new credit laws to crack down on child maintenance defaulters.

Donning blue sashes as a symbol of their commitment to children’s rights, the women danced and held up signs saying: “Pay your papgeld!”

Denise Robinson, interim leader of Dawn, said: “An estimated 9 million children are growing up in South Africa without fathers. From 1996 to 2009, the proportion of living fathers who are absent from their children’s lives increased from 42 percent to 48 percent. Fathers who don’t pay their child maintenance don’t face the full might of the law.”

Robinson called for fathers who did not meet their financial obligations to be penalised, with the co-operation of various agencies, including Sars, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), Home Affairs, vehicle licensing, banks and the Deeds Office.

Zille called on fathers and mothers alike to take responsibility for their children.

“When you make a baby, it’s the child’s interests that are put at the forefront,” she said.

“The Western Cape government was the first and the only one to have distributed 100 million condoms – and that’s now enough condoms. If you can’t be a father, don’t make a baby.”

Lionel October, the director of Trade and Industry, confirmed that following up child maintenance defaulters had been identified as a priority.

“The different departments are currently looking at an Australian model which could possibly be implemented within the justice and police ministeries as well as trade and industry to locate maintenance defaulters within South Africa,” he said.

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Cape Argus