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Zimbabwe Court Upholds Traditional Chief's Ruling Against PM Tsvangirai

Chief Negomo of Mashonaland Central province brought the action in Bindura magistrate court after Mr. Tsvangirai refused to pay a fine for allegedly violating tradition by paying a bride price in November

A provincial magistrate has ordered Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to pay a traditional penalty including livestock, cloth and snuff for failing to heed a summons from a traditional leader in connection with his supposed November marriage.

Chief Negomo of Chiweshe, Mashonaland Central province, brought the action in Bindura magistrate court after Mr. Tsvangirai refused to pay a fine for allegedly violating cultural norms by paying lobola or bride price in the month of November.

Negomo's traditional court tried Tsvangirai in absentia late last year and found him guilty of wedding Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo during the month which Shona tradition holds to be sacred. Mr. Tsvangirai has denied marrying Tembo, maintaining that he had only paid damages for getting the 30-year-old divorcee with child.

Tsvangirai refused to appear before the chief, saying Negomo had no jurisdiction in the matter. But Negomo went ahead with the trial, fining Mr. Tsvangirai two head of cattle, two sheep, 10 meters of white cloth and a bowl of snuff to appease the spirits.

Accused by some of acting on behalf of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF, the chief registered his judgment with the Bindura magistrate’s court after the expiration of a 30-day period within which both families were supposed to have paid fines.

Negomo is taking steps to attach the prime minister's property to collect the fine.

Mr. Tsvangirai’s spokesman, Luke Tamborinyoka, refused to comment.

MDC lawmaker Shepherd Mushonga, a lawyer who recently won a case against Chief Negomo, told VOA reporter Violet Gonda that Negomo is a provincial security officer for ZANU-PF and is playing a political game against the prime minister.

“This is more politics than legal as the chief is the provincial security officer for ZANU-PF, so yes there is a political game being played," Mushonga said. "If I was the Prime Minister’s adviser I would tell him to take this matter to the High Court on review."

But Negomo's aide Cairo Mhandu, also a member of Parliament, insisted the traditional leader holds no position in ZANU-PF and is merely fulfilling his traditional duties.

Human rights lawyer Matshobana Ncube says Mr. Tsvangirai erred in ignoring the chief's ruling despite the fact the traditional leader had no standing in the matter.

Ncube told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo the prime minister should now file an interdict in the High Court to stop the messenger of court from attaching his property.

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