By Tererai Karimakwenda
18 September 2012
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his new wife Elizabeth Macheka are preparing to challenge the cancellation of their marriage licence by a Harare magistrate last Friday, as the saga over his previous relationships continues.
Through their lawyer, Innocent Chagonda, the couple will also appeal against a High Court decision to dismiss their urgent chamber application, which sought to suspend the magistrate’s ruling and allow the wedding to proceed.
Tsvangirai married his fiancée on Saturday, despite the cancellation of the license on August 27th by Harare provincial magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi, who had issued the document in the first place.
The license was revoked following an application by Tsvangirai’s former girlfriend, Locadia Karimatsenga, who claimed the two were already in a customary marriage. The Prime Minister has denied marrying her, saying he only paid damages.
Tsvangirai still has 15 days to file the appeal and his lawyer said the paperwork is being finalized. According to the state controlled Herald newspaper, the defense will cite “gross irregularity” in both the proceedings and the ruling, as well as “bias and malice” on the part of the magistrate.
We were unable to contact Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka for comment but Locadia’s lawyer, Everson Samkange, told SW Radio Africa that Zimbabwe has a dual legal system which recognizes both customary law and general law.
Samkange insisted there is plenty of evidence, including a DVD, showing that Tsvangirai paid “roora” and “rusambo” (bride price) to the Karimatsenga family. He said there is also a list of the payment that was paid by his emissary.
“In fact in terms of the Criminal Law and Codification Act of Zimbabwe, it has actually been made a criminal offence for a person who is married under customary law to proceed to consummate a marriage under general law,” Samkange explained.
The lawyer dismissed allegations by the MDC-T that the whole affair is a ZANU PF campaign to tarnish the image of the Prime Minister. “That is poorly thought-out. We don’t get our instructions from ZANU PF or the MDC. We get instructions from our clients,” Samkange said.
The Herald also reported that lawyers for Locadia had written a letter to Attorney-General Johannes Tomana last week urging him to arrest the Prime Minister. The lawyers now intend to meet Tomana to push for Tsvangirai’s arrest.
Samkange admitted the letter seeking Tsvangirai’s arrest had already been sent, saying this was because Tsvangirai committed a crime when he testified under oath that he had not married Locadia, and had therefore committed perjury.
There has been no response yet from the Attorney General.