Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Tsvangirai ‘swings’ at animal farm fine

By Chengetai Zvauya

CHIWESHE – As expected, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the Karimatsenga family were on Saturday found “guilty” by Chief Lucious Negomo of breaking traditional laws by “marrying” in the “sacred” month of November.

TEEING OFF... Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai went to play golf as Chief Negomo tried him in absentia
TEEING OFF... Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai went to play golf as Chief Negomo tried him in absentia

Both parties were each fined two cattle, two sheep and two goats.

But Tsvangirai, who snubbed the “trial”, appeared unmoved by events happening at Negomo’s court at Gweshe Business Centre in Chiweshe, and chose to tee off a round of golf at Royal Harare Golf Club rather than attend the controversial and much-politicised court.

“Tsvangirai is guilty as charged and must pay the fine,” said Negomo in delivering his ruling. The former trade unionist’s lawyers last week wrote to the chief informing him that Tsvangirai would not attend his court as the process was illegal.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka was unavailable for comment yesterday. But Tsvangirai’s MDC party last week dismissed Negomo as a Zanu PF agent implementing a pro-President Robert Mugabe mission to tarnish the Prime Minister’s image ahead of elections expected next year or in 2013.

The chief last week summoned Tsvangirai to answer charges of breaking traditional law in his jurisdiction after the Prime Minister sent a delegation to the Karimatsenga family in mid-November to perform traditional marriage rites.

This was after he reportedly impregnated his then lover Locadia Karimatsenga out of wedlock. Negomo claimed that traditional law in his area made it a crime to perform traditional ceremonies in the month of November. This tradition, while not universal, is practised in many parts of Zimbabwe.

Locadia, who is said to be carrying Tsvangirai’s twins, was not present at the court. Her relatives, who attended Negomo’s court, said she was in Buhera, at Tsvangirai’s rural home. Tsvangirai has said that he did not marry Locadia, but only paid compensation for making her pregnant.

It is common in Zimbabwe for women to elope to the homes of men who would have impregnated them but are reluctant to marry them. Negomo said while he was not opposed to the “marriage”, the Prime Minister and the Karimatsenga family should be punished for embarking on the process in a sacred month.

He ordered Tsvangirai and the Karimatsengas to pay the fine within 30 days. The chief justified his jurisdiction over the case by saying the Karimatsengas were his subjects.

More than 100 villagers packed the stuffy courtroom, anticipating what was arguably the biggest and most titillating case to be tried at Chief Negomo’s court.Sitting on the floor, the villagers could not hide their excitement as they chatted animatedly about Tsvangirai and Locadia’s still-birth marriage.

Others who could not fit in the room peeped through windows. The Karimatsenga family, represented by family elder Isaac and brothers Abraham and Positive, accepted the verdict. Smartly dressed in grey suits and seated at the front, the Karimatsengas were the centre of attraction.

The Karimatsenga family was also ordered to buy a white piece of cloth and tobacco snuff to be “offered” to local spirit mediums. Negomo said he was proceeding to issue a warrant of arrest for Tsvangirai for failing to turn up at the court. Tsvangirai’s name was called out three times and when it became clear he was unavailable, the chief proceeded with the trial.

The trial kicked off mid-day.

“There was no reason for rushing to perform the illicit ceremony that was performed in my area. You could have waited until December 1 for you to perform the customary ceremony. You simply rushed to ensure that you disrespected our customs and cast a bad omen in my area,” Negomo said.

He confirmed that he had received a letter from Tsvangirai’s lawyers informing him that the Prime Minister would not attend the court.

“I have received the letter from Tsvangirai’s lawyers that he is not going to appear at my court, but it has no value here because I am the chief in the area where the offence was committed. I don’t care that he is the Prime Minister,” he said.

Isaac Karimatsenga said when the Tsvangirai family approached them with the marriage proposal, they had consulted with community elders who informed them it was not an offence to perform marriage rites in November.

“We consulted amongst ourselves and told other traditional leaders that the Tsvangirai family wanted to marry our daughter and we were advised that there was nothing wrong if we accepted the bride price in November. This is why we agreed,” said Isaac.

Negomo denied allegations by Tsvangirai’s camp that he was being used by Zanu PF, which is trying to maximise its political advantage over the scandal. “I am treating this matter as one of the many cases that come to my court. I know that there is a lot of media speculation that I want to politicise this issue.

“I was approached by medium spirits complaining about this marriage and wanted me to bring the Karimatsenga and Tsvangirai families to court for breaking the law,” he said. Daily News