By Tonderai Kwenda and Tendai Kamhungira
HARARE – A Bindura magistrate has set aside the ruling by Chief Luscious Chitsinde Negomo which found Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai guilty of flouting marriage laws. Mashonaland Central Provincial magistrate, Mawadze ruled recently that a correct plaintiff needed to sue in a competent jurisdiction.
The chief accuses Tsvangirai of violating traditional marriage norms which prohibit the undertaking of marriage formalities in the month of November.
Negomo charged Tsvangirai two goats, two beasts and two sheep at his traditional court held at Gweshe Business Centre in Chiweshe on December 10 last year for “breaking the traditional norms that bar people from marrying in the month.”
Negomo has been threatening to attach Tsvangirai’s household property this week if he does not pay his fine but the judgment by the Bindura provincial magistrate has put paid to his plans.
The magistrate cited a number of anomalies that were noted by Tsvangirai’s lawyer Selby Hwacha in several correspondences with Negomo as a basis for his ruling.
“From the reading of Section 15 of the Act, as read with the letter written to Chief Negomo, dated the 9th December, 2011, it is apparent that the defendant objected to the jurisdiction of Chief Negomo on the grounds that, he does not reside in Chief Negomo’s area of jurisdiction and that he did not consent to the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.
“The court proceeded to hear the matter despite a notice being filed with their court. The L.C.4 file of record shows that the defendant resides at No. 2 Zindhurst, Strathaven, Harare which is clearly out of the Chief’s area of jurisdiction,” said the magistrate in his judgement issued on March 2 at Bindura Magistrates’ Court.
He added, “There is also another anomaly noted, that the summons were issued by Chief Negomo as plaintiff in the case and on the hearing date Morris Nyikadzino was now the plaintiff and Chief Negomo was the presiding officer. There is no record why there was that sudden change in the parties and the adjudicating authority. I am satisfied that there are flaws in the whole proceedings.”
In his ruling, the magistrate made it explicitly clear “that judgement in the community court be and is hereby set aside” and that “the correct plaintiff to sue in a court of competent jurisdiction and that the matter be heard denovo in that court.”
The Customary Law and Local Courts Act Chapter, Chapter 7:05 empowers traditional leaders to convene a community court and hear civil cases.
As part of the pre-requisites to convene a court, the defendant in a matter should normally be resident in the area of jurisdiction of the court, the crimes should have been committed in the area and the defendant consents to the jurisdiction of the court, all of which Tsvangirai’s lawyer contested.
On February 22, Hwacha wrote to the Bindura provincial magistrate arguing why Negomo’s court was irregular and incompetent to put the premier to trial.
Hwacha said Negomo, despite being the current incumbent of the Negomo chieftainship, is widely reported to be a political activist of some political parties that the court processes under which Tsvangirai was tried were irregular as Negomo appeared as the complainant, prosecutor and judge.
Hwacha also argued that Negomo never served him with the purported judgement. Tsvangirai denies newspaper reports that he married Locadia, insisting the money he paid was compensation for impregnating her.
His party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora told the Daily News yesterday that the premier who is currently visiting the United Kingdom is unmoved by the threats and see them as an attempt by Negomo to soil his image.
“We are all aware that Negomo is being used by a faction within Zanu PF that is bent on destroying the GNU and embarrass the Prime Minister,” said Mwonzora. Daily News