Zimbabwe PM marriage saga takes new twist

By IndepthAfrica
In Zimbabwe
Sep 25th, 2012
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Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai with his wife Elizabeth Macheka during a traditional wedding in Harare on Saturday.

PATRICE MAKOVA,The Standard

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s marriage saga has taken a new twist.

His emissaries have admitted in court papers that they went against instructions and paid lobola instead of damages to jilted Locardia Karimatsenga’s family.

Tsvangirai last week lodged a High Court application seeking a review of provincial magistrate, Munamato Mutevedzi’s ruling, cancelling his marriage licence to Elizabeth Macheka at the 11th hour.

The premier is now questioning the impartiality of Mutevedzi, who is the 1st respondent, while declaring that he would never marry Karimatsenga, the second respondent.

Just over a week ago, Karimatsenga successfully applied for the revocation of the marriage licence, claiming that she was customarily married to Tsvangirai after producing a video showing his emissaries paying lobola.

But in an affidavit supporting the premier’s application, the emissaries, Innocent Zvaipa and Manasa Tsvangirai, who are uncle and brother to the premier respectively, said they were called in to assist following a dispute between the two ex-lovers.

This was after Locardia had indicated that she was pregnant and had eloped to Zvaipa’s house in Chitungwiza.

“We confirm that at no time did Tsvangirai agree or instruct us to marry Karimatsenga,” said the two emissaries.

“We confirm that we took our own initiative in good faith and in trying to assist with the problem. We are available to and will testify in court to confirm that we were not instructed or authorised to marry for and on behalf of Morgan Richard Tsvangirai.”

Sources in the Tsvangirai family yesterday said the emissaries took the decision to pay lobola to the Karimatsenga family in the hope that the premier would change his mind and develop affection for Locardia at a later stage.

“That time mbuya Tsvangirai wanted Morgan to settle down by marrying Locardia. She really liked her and this was the reason why Locardia was able to stay in Buhera (Tsvangirai’s home) for some time,” said a family member.

While the emissaries were given US$10 000 to pay “damages”, the sources said the two managed to raise, from unknown sources, an additional US$4 000 to contribute towards the “lobola.”

But in the papers lodged with the High Court last week, Tsvangirai made it clear that he would never marry Lorcadia.

“I have never wanted to marry her. I will never marry her,” he said.

“She knows too well that I will not marry her, never having intended to do so in the first place.”

The premier said he was seeking a review of Mutevedzi’s ruling, citing “bias and malice” on the part of the magistrate and gross irregularity in the proceedings.

He said the issues on the basis upon which Mutevedzi made his ruling had not at any stage or in any of the proceedings arisen between the parties.

Tsvangirai said at the inquiry, the magistrate briefly heard the argument, but indicated that he was concerned with the fact that in terms of Section 104 of the Code (Criminal Law Codification Reform Act), the position seemed to be that bigamy would be committed if his marriage was to proceed.

“His mind seemed made up on the issue. He wished to be certain on whether there was a customary marriage between the parties,” said the MDC-T leader.

“He invited argument on that aspect after which second respondent’s legal practitioners indicated that they wished to place a video of what they alleged showed I had married customarily.”

Tsvangirai said the video was supposed to be played in court and the parties would thereafter make their comments and argue on the issues of law arising.

But the magistrate indicated that he was pressed for time and it was agreed by all parties that he would watch the video on his own while Tsvangirai’s lawyers would have a copy of the DVD.

Tsvangirai said his lawyers were not able to watch the video since the copy they were given could not play, a position not refuted in court.

“I am aware that first respondent now suggests in his ruling that both parties watched the video. This obviously puts his bona fides into question and makes me wonder why he could make such a misrepresentation,” he said.

‘My lawyers were denied chance to explain’

The premier said Mutevedzi refused to consider the affidavits of the emissaries and did not give his lawyers a chance to examine Locardia on her relationship with him, considering that the two had not been on talking terms for a long time.

Tsvangirai said he could not understand how Mutevedzi could have made a ruling without hearing the evidence of his emissaries.

“I do not appear in the video. A marriage binding on me could only have been concluded if the emissaries had my authority to enter into such a marriage. It was therefore crucial for the 1st respondent to hear my emissaries on the point,” he said.

“More fundamentally, it was common cause that I had publicly denied that I married 2nd respondent, shortly after such news was reported.”

Tsvangirai is being represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu instructed by Innocent Chagonda of Atherstone and Cook and Selby Hwacha of Dube, Manikai and Hwacha.

Jonathan Samkange of Byron and Venturas represents Karimatsenga.

It was not clear at the time of going to print, if Locardia had filed opposing papers.

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