A Zimbabwean magistrate has set aside a judgment by a traditional leader charging Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai should pay a fine for allegedly violating tradition by paying bride price for one Locadia Karimatsenga-Tembo last November.
Mr. Tsvangirai has denied marrying Tembo, maintaining that he had only paid damages for getting the 30-year-old divorcee pregnant.
Chief Negomo, who has threatened to attach and auction the Prime Minister’s property this week, had initially fined Mr. Tsvangirai two head of cattle, two sheep, 10 meters of white cloth and a bowl of snuff to appease the spirits.
Mr. Tsvangirai’s lawyer Selby Hwacha told the VOA’s Violet Gonda that Chief Negomo risks arrest if he attempts to attach Mr. Tsvangirai’s property since the magistrate ruled he had no jurisdiction over the area where the traditional ceremony allegedly took place.
“In fact what the magistrate has ruled and directed is that the chief’s decision is void, it is invalid.” Hwacha said: “(Including the fact that the chief has no powers to be issuing decisions of any kind over and concerning the Prime Minister.”
“The court has said if the chief should, and I hope he doesn’t, make the mistake of attempting to attach anything he risks being arrested because simply put – you don’t run around with fake orders or fake powers trying to attach people’s property.”
Early this year the Bindura court reportedly ordered the Prime Minister to pay the traditional penalty, but Hwacha said he only heard about it in the newspapers and could not confirm that the magistrate had initially ordered that the chief’s judgment was valid.
“The only formal communication we have ever received is this communication from the magistrates’ court in Bindura advising us that the chief’s decision is not valid,” said Hwacha.
Meanwhile, speaking on condition of anonymity, a source close to the Chiweshe chief said plans were still underway to attach the Prime Minister’s property.
The chief’s aide Retired Major Cairo Mhandu declined to comment.
However, youths from Mr. Tsvangirai’s MDC formation have threatened to ‘prevent’ Chief Negomo from attaching their leader’s property in an ‘illegal manner’.
Youth Assembly secretary-general Promise Mkwananzi accuses the chief of undermining the office of the Prime Minister.
“We expect the respect that is given to the President of the country to be given as well to the Prime Minister of this country,” said Mkwananzi.
“The Youth Assembly will not sit by idly and cowardly and watch while this idiotic chief goes on to disdainfully disrespect the office of the Prime Minister.”