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Zimbabwe PM Summoned by Traditional Leader Over 'Marriage' Ceremony

  • Sithandekile Mhlanga

Chief Negomo does not propose to rule on the tangled question of whether the prime minister married or did not marry Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo, but rather to take him to task for scheduling the ceremony in November

The latest to get involved in the controversy surrounding Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's alleged marriage to a divorced businesswoman he has since broken up with is traditional leader Chief Negomo of Mashonaland Central province who has summonsed Mr. Tsvangirai to a traditional court in the matter.

Chief Negomo does not propose to rule on the tangled question of whether the prime minister married or did not marry Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo, but rather to take him to task for scheduling the ceremony in November, to be avoided under Shona tradition.

Sources in the office of the prime minister said the chief showed up at the offices of the prime minister on Wednesday armed with a summons for Mr. Tsvangirai to attend a community court in Chiweshe, Mashonaland Central, regarding the matter.

Though Mr. Tsvangirai's rural homestead is in Buhera, Manicaland province, the ceremony is alleged to have taken place in Christon Bank, near Mazowe.

Sources in the prime minister’s office said the summons was deposited by Chief Negomo at the entrance to Mr. Tsvangirai’s offices after staff members refused to accept it.

The traditional leader says the ceremony should not have been held in November, a month considered too sacred to hold such cultural rites.

The sources said Negomo wants Mr. Tsvangirai to appear before his court on Saturday to answer charges of paying a lobola or bride price in a sacred month.

Tsvangirai spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka told VOA he was not sure whether Mr. Tsvangirai would appear before the court.

Chief’s Council President Fortune Charumbira said Negomo had the right to summon Mr Tsvangirai because the alleged ceremony – which Mr. Tsvangiray says did not amount to a marriage, while Tembo's family says it did – took place within his jurisdiction.

But observers say Mr. Tsvangirai does not have to answer to Chief Negomo.

Sources said the Karimatsenga family has already appeared before the Negomo for allegedly causing the prime minister to perform cultural rites in a sacred month.

But church minister and cultural expert Levy Kadenge told reporter Violet Gonda he has performed many marriages in November, saying people are getting "carried away."

Meanwhile, the activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise has accused political parties of using the prime minister’s falling out with Locadia Tembo to settle scores.

WOZA also took the media to task for its coverage, saying journalists have been using demeaning and gender-stereotyping language in their reports.

WOZA director Jenni Williams said politicians and journalists should address the plight of all women and girls who are abused, while respecting their integrity.

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