Prime Minister Mr Morgan Tsvangirai may face criminal charges for deliberately lying under oath about his marriage to Ms Locardia Karimatsenga when he desperately sought a marriage licence to wed his lover Ms Elizabeth Macheka.
Under Zimbabwean law, perjury, which is defined as knowingly lying under oath, is a criminal offence punishable with up to five years’ imprisonment.
Mr Tsvangirai misrepresented in affidavits filed both at the High Court and magistrates’ court that he had only paid damages for Ms Karimatsenga and not married her, a claim disproved by Harare provincial magistrate Mr Munamato Mutevedzi last week.
Mr Mutevedzi, in cancelling a marriage licence he had granted earlier to the premier and Ms Macheka, said after reviewing the evidence brought to court by Ms Karimatsinga’s lawyers, he was convinced that Mr Tsvangirai had paid lobola to the Karimatsinga family on November 11 last year.
The evidence included video footage of the lobola proceedings in which the MDC-T co-Home Affairs Minister Mrs Theresa Makone, who was part of the negotiating team, was heard shouting that “Tapiwa muchato” meaning “we have been given permission for a white wedding”.
However, when Mr Tsvangirai sought the marriage licence with Ms Macheka, the magistrate asked them if they knew of any lawful impediment why they could not be joined in matrimony, to which they both said no.
The magistrate also specifically asked if he had married Ms Karimatsinga as was reported in the media, and again the premier denied that fact. His actions, therefore, could have amounted to perjury.
Legal experts yesterday said the Prime Minister had also committed fraud because his misrepresentation of fact had both actual and potential prejudice to Ms Karimatsenga.
Actual prejudice, they said, arose from the fact that Ms Karimatsenga had to institute legal action to stop his pending marriage to Ms Macheka while potentially, if Mr Tsvangirai’s marriage had been allowed to go ahead, then his wife would have been automatically divorced.
This means that her maintenance suit against him would have fallen away.
Ms Karimatsenga’s lawyer, Mr Jonathan Samukange of Venturas and Samukange, said if Mr Tsvangirai’s marriage had gone on, his client would have lost financial support, conjugal rights and companionship, among other losses.
Former Attorney-General Mr Sobusa Gula-Ndebele also told The Sunday Mail yesterday that Mr Tsvangirai could be charged with perjury on the basis of his sworn affidavit to the court denying his marriage to Ms Karimatsenga.
“If the court found for a fact that he (Mr Tsvangirai) married the woman (Ms Karimatsenga) and yet he had said he did not marry her in a sworn affidavit, then clearly he lied under oath. That is a serious criminal offence, especially if it involves such a senior Government official as the Prime Minister” said Mr Gula-Ndebele.
Another legal expert, Mr Pisirayi Kwenda of Kwenda and Associates, also concurred that the Prime Minister could have perjured himself through his affidavit.
“Just going by the ruling of the magistrate, he (Mr Tsvangirai) might have perjured himself,” he said.
According to the legal experts, having taken an oath to uphold the laws of this country as the Prime Minister, Mr Tsvangirai appears to have deliberately flouted the same laws he promised to obey and uphold.
The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter XI Section 183 on the crimes against the administration of justice, describes perjury as:
“(1) Any person who, in the course of or for the purpose of judicial proceedings, makes a false statement upon oath, whether the statement is written or oral
(a) knowing that the statement is false or
(b) realising that there is a real risk or possibility that it may be false, shall be guilty of perjury and liable to a fine not exceeding level ten or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or both.
Last week Mr Samukange wrote to the Attorney-General’s Office urging the Government’s law division to act on the criminal offences against the Prime Minister.
Although no official comment could be obtained from the AG’s Office, an official from that office confirmed receipt of the letter from Mr Samukange, which he said was still being scrutinised.
The Sunday Mail
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