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Why Locardia Lost Tsvangirai Marriage Case

Ms Locardia Karimatsenga Tembo’s last minute desperate bid to stop Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his fiancée Ms Elizabeth Macheka’s wedding hit a snag yesterday after the High Court threw out her injunction.

Locardia Karimatsenga Tembo at Tsvangirai's rural home in Buhera
Locardia Karimatsenga Tembo at Tsvangirai’s rural home in Buhera

This means the wedding, slated for Saturday at Raintree Lodge in Umwinsidale, Harare, proceeds as scheduled unless there are other developments in the objection Ms Karimatsenga’s legal team plan to lodge with the magistrate’s court.

Ms Karimatsenga, who insists she is still married to Mr Tsvangirai, filed the injunction last week to stop the wedding.

Justice Antonia Guvava, however, threw out the injunction on the basis that Ms Karimatsenga rushed to the High Court before exhausting remedies provided for in the Marriages’ Act in cases where one party has an objection

She ruled that Ms Karimatsenga could have lodged her objection with the magistrate who issued a marriage licence to Mr Tsvangirai and his new wife, Elizabeth. The magistrate, according to Justice Guvava, would then conduct an inquiry or cancel the licence where necessary.

Everson Samukange and Dumisani Mutombeni representing Locardia at the High court
Everson Samukange and Dumisani Mutombeni representing Locardia at the High court

After the judgment, Mr Everson Samukange who was leading Ms Karimatsenga’s legal team, said his client intended to file the objection with Harare provincial magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi who granted the premier the licence.

“We are now taking the objection to the magistrate. We will do it today but the latest time to file the objection will be tomorrow (Thursday),” Mr Samukange said.

Justice Guvava ordered Ms Karimatsenga to pay legal costs for Bishop Levee Kadenge, who was wrongly cited as the marriage officer for Saturday’s wedding.

“The application is hereby dismissed. Applicant shall pay third respondent (Bishop Kadenge) legal costs. (There is) no order as to costs for first and second respondents,” Justice Guvava said.

The judge described the citation of Bishop Kadenge by the applicant as “extremely reckless”.

Justice Guvava said every court including the magistrate’s court was a creature of statute and that it was legally wrong for the High Court to claim inherent jurisdiction over the lower court and entertain the urgent application.

She said that was tantamount to amending the statute thereby usurping the powers of the legislature. The judge found the existence of disputes of facts in the case that could not be resolved through an urgent chamber application.

Whether or not the PM paid lobola, was the biggest dispute in the matter. The High Court also found that even if Ms Karimatsenga was customarily married to the PM, such an unregistered marriage was not legally valid.

She said the legislature only recognised the marriage for certain purposes. Justice Guvava pointed out that the loophole was affecting thousands of women in Zimbabwe and that the legislature should do something to harmonise the marriages.

She said the majority of women in Zimbabwe were customarily married and that they were facing legal challenges in cases of divorce, inheritance and others. Justice Guvava decided not to grant an order of costs against Ms Karimatsenga for suing the PM and Ms Macheka.

She said the woman was actually fighting in a case where emotions generally run high. Adv Thabani Mpofu for Mr Tsvangirai said the idea of going to the magistrate with the same complaint was simply theoretical.

“In my view, the judge was abundantly clear in her reasoning. While accepting that Ms Karimatsenga has a theoretical remedy under Section 19 of the Marriages Act, she nonetheless found that her claims pertaining to the existence of a customary law union do not afford her any rights at law.

“Accordingly, Ms Karimatsenga does not in my view, have the right to proceed under Section 19 of the marriages Act given her circumstances. If she does proceed, she would have abused the magnanimous process of the court.

“Such obtuse intransigence in the face of a well reasoned judgment would be frowned upon. Sadly we will be forced to descend upon her with as much force as we may be able to amass,” he said.