THE Lusaka High Court has annulled the marriage between Economic and Equity Party leader Chilufya Tayali and his first wife Marie-Reine Ingabire Rutagwera.
Rutagwera had petitioned Tayali for divorce, seeking that their 12-year marriage be dissolved by the court as the marriage had broken down irretrievably.
According to her petition for divorce, the petitioner was lawfully married to Tayali on April 30, 2008 at the office of the registrar of marriages in Lusaka.
Rutagwera contended that she and Tayali have lived apart for a period in excess of two years immediately preceding the presentation of the petition and Tayali’s consent to the dissolution of the said marriage.
Rutagwera, who is a public health specialist, said she last co-habited with Tayali as husband and wife on May 18, 2010 at house number 14, Njoka Road in Olympia.
She stated that there were two children of the family aged 17 and 13 years, born on April 5, 2003 and January 20, 2007.
Rutagwera said there were previous proceedings in the High Court with regards to the said marriage under cause no. 2010/HPD/106 but were abandoned after the record went missing at the court since 2013.
Rutagwera explained that she petitioned for dissolution of marriage on December 7, 2010 and filed her submissions and judgment date was set for February 2013 and justice Emelia Sunkutu was transferred from Lusaka and no judgment has since been rendered.
Rutagwera further stated that the pair has remained separated since May 10, 2010 and prayed that the couple be granted joint custody of the children of the family, further or other reliefs the court deems fit.
She also prayed that her husband agrees to settle only K10,000 for legal costs arising in and incidental to the court action.
When the matter came up for hearing, Tayali told the court that he consented to the divorce freely and voluntarily and that he understood the consequences of signing the said consent.
Tayali equally prayed that the marriage be dissolved as the case had dragged and the separation had been difficult and it had impacted on the children.
In her ruling, justice Sharon Newa said Rutagwera had proved her case.
“I accordingly … grant a decree nisi for the dissolution of the marriage that was solemnized on April 30, 2008. The decree nisi shall become absolute after a period of six weeks. The parties are at liberty to file a consent order with regard to the custody of the children of the family,” said justice Newa. “In default thereof, an application can be made to me at chambers, while the application for maintenance and property settlement shall be heard by the registrar. The costs of the proceedings may be settled by way of consent and in default, they shall be borne by both parties and shall be taxed.”