Lloyd Gumbo Herald Reporter
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is officially a polygamist and last Saturday’s customary handover ceremony of Elizabeth Macheka endorses his traditional marriage to Locardia Karimatsenga, legal experts have said.
PM Tsvangirai’s planned white wedding to Ms Elizabeth Macheka was cancelled after the High Court on Saturday morning upheld an earlier ruling by the magistrates’ court in favour of Ms Karimatsenga’s interdict to stop the wedding.
Yesterday, Ms Karimatsenga’s lawyer, Mr Everson Samukange of Venturas and Samukange said his client was officially Mr Tsvangirai’s first wife, as recognised by the courts.
“Saturday’s ceremony with Ms Macheka actually recognised our client’s right as Mr Tsvangirai’s wife.
“As far as we are concerned, our client is still married to Mr Tsvangirai as his first wife. Ndiye amaiguru.
“Our client was never divorced. What happened yesterday (Saturday) actually allows Mr Tsvangirai to marry more women, but they will all know that there is amaiguru who is our client,” said Mr Samukange.
He said should the PM wish to divorce Ms Karimatsenga, they would have to share everything they acquired together.
Former Attorney-General Mr Sobusa Gula-Ndebele said under customary law union, the PM was allowed to marry as many wives as he wished.
“Customary law union allows one to marry more than one woman. If he married both women as we have heard from the courts and the newspapers, then he has them both as his wives.”
Mr Andrew Chigovera, who is also former Attorney-General said: “Customary marriage is potentially polygamous. If assuming the PM has some
customary marriage then nothing bars him from marrying another woman.”
A former University of Zimbabwe family law lecturer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said PM Tsvangirai was legally a polygamist.
“Paying lobola for Locardia makes her Tsvangirai’s wife under customary law.
“It is registered and valid for all purposes of customary law and certain general laws like maintenance, guardianship and so on.
“The only aspect where it is not recognised in general law is that you cannot go to court for divorce.
MORGAN TSVANGIRAI'S LOVE LIFE
“At the moment because of the legal finding of the law, Tsvangirai is legally a polygamist,” said the source.
However, MDC-T spokesperson and lawyer Mr Douglas Mwonzora dismissed the analysts’ notion that Mr Tsvangirai was married to two wives.
He said Mr Tsvangirai’s legal team had prepared an appeal at the Supreme Court.
“He is not a polygamist because he is married to one wife. The other person, to the declaration of the court, is being challenged because an appeal has been prepared for the Supreme Court.
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“The effect of an appeal is to suspend the decision appealed against. In essence, the finding that there was a customary marriage is what is being challenged. This means that the status of the claimant is suspended. Therefore the Prime Minister is not a polygamist,” he said.
PM Tsvangirai’s “wedding” on Saturday turned into a bride handover ceremony after the presiding priest at the event declared that his marriage to Ms Macheka was improper.
The ceremony was held without a proper exchange of marriage vows following a court decision to cancel the couple’s marriage licence.
The presiding priest, Father Patrick Makaka of the Roman Catholic Church, told guests that the event was not an official wedding, but a traditional occasion where Ms Macheka was being handed over to the Tsvangirai family.
He said another ceremony should be held to officialise the marriage.
The PM may face criminal charges for lying under oath about his marriage to Ms Karimatsenga when he sought a marriage licence to wed Ms Macheka.
Under Zimbabwean law, perjury, which is defined as knowingly lying under oath, is a criminal offence punishable with up to five years imprisonment.