A BID by Morgan Tsvangirai’s ex-lover Locardia Karimatsenga to stop his wedding next Saturday failed at the High Court after a judge advised her lawyers to file their objections with the marriage registrar.
The Prime Minister obtained a marriage licence from the Magistrates’ Court on August 27. The licence indicates an intention to marry and allows people to raise objections within a three-month period.
Karimatsenga maintains that Tsvangirai married her during a traditional ceremony held at her home in Mt Darwin last November. Her lawyers say they have a video to prove it, but Tsvangirai denies they married.
The MDC-T leader argued that the High Court had no jurisdiction on the matter as Karimatsenga had not exhausted all available remedies, and Justice Antonia Guvava agreed with him as she threw out the urgent application with costs on Wednesday.
Justice Guvava said while the case exposes legislative weakness in the country’s marriage laws, the court had no jurisdiction on the matter.
The High Court cannot take over the powers of the Magistrate Court as doing so would be “tantamount to instituting legislative changes through the back-door”, the judge said.
Guvava lashed out at Locardia’s lawyers for citing Reverend Levee Kadenge of the Methodist Church as a respondent in the matter, believing that he would preside over the marriage ceremony.
“The reverend has been a minister of religion for the past 34 years. It was extremely reckless to cite him as he has no mandate to stop the marriage or instruct any priest to do so,” said Guvava.
“The application is thus dismissed and Locardia Karimatsenga must pay the legal costs associated with this case and pay the legal costs of Reverend Kadenge for having been poorly cited in the case.”
Lawyers for Karimatsenga had wanted the costs shared, but the judge said the general law states that the successful litigant should be indemnified and as such despite the case having exposed the dilemma faced by women in relation to the conflicting marriage laws, she still had to shoulder the costs.
Guvava said the High Court could not reverse or compel the Magistrates’ Court to stop the wedding ceremony and advised Karimatsenga to seek relief at the lower court, now that she was aware of Tsvangirai’s marriage licence.
Judge Guvava bemoaned the failure to harmonise the conflict between the three types of marriages – registered customary, unregistered customary and civil marriages – which she said had exposed women to exploitation by rapacious and selfish men.
Outside court, Karimatsenga’s lawyer Jonathan Samkange initially accepted the ruling, saying “the judge has comprehensively dealt with it and what is clear is that the Prime Minister can go ahead with his wedding”, but later made a U-turn and told reporters he was going to file an objection at the lower court.
Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said they were relieved at the outcome and hoped that would be the end of the saga.
“We are happy with the ruling and we can now proceed with the wedding peacefully”, said Tamborinyoka.
Tamborinyoka said the issues Karimatsenga was raising about customary marriage unions should be taken up with women’s rights advocacy groups.
The Prime Minister, 60, is expected to wed Macheka in Harare on Saturday – three years after his wife and mother of their six children, Susan, perished in a car crash.
Tsvangirai has invited a dozen regional leaders including President Robert Mugabe, and the uncertainty over the wedding has been a major embarrassment for him.