Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wedding to Elizabeth Macheka which was supposed to take place this Saturday in Harare has been cancelled.
The marriage licence for the two was cancelled by Harare Provincial Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi following an appeal by the Prime Minister’s former lover, Locardia Karimatsenga Tembo to stop the wedding.
Locardia Karimatsenga’s lawyers were ecstatic at the outcome of the hearing with Mr Everson Samukange saying the victory is not for Karimatsenga alone but for the thousands of women in Zimbabwe who are married under the unregistered customary law.
Ms Karimatsenga Tembo had argued that she was customarily married to Mr Tsvangirai and appealed against his marriage to Ms Macheka.
In a 7-paged ruling, the marriage licence issuing officer, Provincial Magistrate Mutevedzi noted that Tsvangirai’s legal representative Advocate Thabani Mpofu’s argument that the matter had been effectively dealt with by High Hourt judge Justice Antonia Guvava was without merit as the learned judge had said Ms Karimatsenga should approach the Magistrate’s Court.
“…. I however had occasion to read the unedited version of Honourable Justice Guvava’s judgement which is at complete variance with the submissions by Advocate Mpofu. The learned Judge clearly pointed out that Ms Karimatsenga’s remedy lied in approaching the Magistrates’ Court and filing an objection to the intended marriage. That right was not extinguished by her abortive application for an interdict in the High Court. I therefore find Advocate Mpofu’s point in limine without merit and will as I hereby do, dismiss it,” said Provincial Magistrate Mutevedzi.
He added that the advent of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act ushered the recognition of the unregistered customary law union which immensely protects women married under that regime.
The Provincial Magistrate said Section 104 (1) (c) of the Act provides that:
“Any person, who being a party to…. a potentially polygamous marriage and knowing that the marriage still subsists, intentionally purports to enter into a monogamous marriage with any person other than his/her spouse by the potentially polygamous marriage, shall be guilty of bigamy.”
Mr Mutevedzi said though he had not checked whether Tsvangirai had entered into an unregistered customary law marriage with Ms Karimatsenga before issuing them a marriage licence, Karimatsenga’s lawyer Mr Everson Samukange had produced a video recording of the marriage ceremony, and a list of the roora which tallied with everything on the video, and the production of both had proved that the customary marriage ceremony took place.
“In that video recording, it was very clear that contrary to the unsubstantiated assertion by Mr Tsvangirai that he had only paid damages for impregnating Ms Karimatsenga out of wedlock, the ceremony was a payment of roora which culminated in Mr Tsvangirai’s emissaries asking for their in-laws’ blessing to have a white wedding. The items tabulated on the list of roora tally exactly with the items mentioned in the video recording.
“On a balance of probabilities, the scale tips in the direction that for all intents and purposes, this was a marriage between Mr Tsvangirai and Ms Karimatsenga,” ruled Mr Mutevedzi.
Advocate Mpofu then submitted an affidavit from Tsvangirai in which he alleged that the emissaries went to ask for Karimatsenga’s hand in marriage without his knowledge and approval.
Tsvangirai through his lawyers is said to have made an about turn later, producing a US$1 note as evidence that he had paid gupuro to divorce Karimatsenga.
However, the magistrate said gupuro is not channelled through a magistrate or marriage officer, adding that there are recognised customary ways of doing it which must be followed.
Provincial Magistrate Mutevedzi further stated that gupuro, though an accepted method of divorcing a woman customarily, it cannot be given simply because the woman has raised an objection to Mr Tsvangirai’s intended wedding.
The magistrate ended the day long proceedings held in his chambers by declaring Mr Tsvangirai and Ms Macheka’s marriage licence cancelled.
“I am therefore convinced that Ms Karimatsenga’s objection to the intended marriage indeed shows a lawful impediment to that marriage and by virtue of the powers I have in terms of Section 19(3) of the Marriage Act Chapter 5:11, I shall as I hereby do cancel the marriage licence I gave to Morgan Tsvangirai and Elizabeth Mazvita Guma (Macheka) on 27/8/12,” read the declaration by Provincial Magistrate Mutevedzi.
Tsvangirai and Ms Macheka were expected to have a glamorous wedding ceremony this Saturday.
However, their lawyer Advocate Mpofu upheld the ruling, but indicated he was filing an urgent chamber application at the High Court against the cancellation of the licence.
The appeal by the South African woman, Nosipho Shilubane, who had also applied to stop the wedding, was dismissed by the provincial magistrate.