Are Ugandan laws silent on Aloysious Bujingo & Suzan Makula’s customary marriage? – Tonny Tumukunde

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House of Prayer Ministries International senior pastor, Aloysious Bujingo was yesterday introduced by his longtime girlfriend and/ or fiancé in her parents’ home in Kyebando, Kawempe North Constituency. This made mammoth news considering the fact that the sturdy and rugged spoken pastor is known to be legally married to Teddy Naluswa Bujingo since 20th December 2003.

 It is also a public secret that the celebrated pastor filed a divorce case at Kajjansi Chief Magistrates’ Court against his wife and sought for dissolution of their marriage in 2019. This has never been decided by any court of law. This marriage still stands.

Article 31 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995 states that, “men and women of the age of 18 years and above have the right to marry and to found a family and are entitled to equal rights in marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.”   In the case of Alai Vs. Uganda [1967] E.A 596 Sir Udo Udoma held that “marriage is a ceremony by which a man and woman become husband and wife thereby creating the conditions of belonging to a particular class of persons to whom the law assigns certain equal capacity as qualified.”

The Marriage Act Cap 251 does not define the term Marriage. However, Section 1 of the Customary Marriages Registration Act Cap 248 (hereinafter referred to as the Customary Marriage Act) defines customary marriage as “a marriage celebrated according to the rites of an African community and one of the parties to which is a member of that community, or, any marriage celebrated under Part III of this Act. “

The same Act goes on to define a “monogamous marriage” to mean a marriage between a man and a woman by which neither of them during the subsistence of the marriage shall be at liberty to contract any other form of marriage with any other person;

Under section 11(e) of the CMRA, Aloysious and Suzan Bujingo’s marriage is a void marriage because Bujingo has previously contracted a monogamous marriage which is still subsisting. Furthermore, Section 36 of the Marriage Act prohibits Aloysious Bujingo, who still has a subsisting marriage with Teddy Bujingo from contracting a customary marriage during the continuance of their marriage.

Valid marriages under Section 34(2) (a) of the Marriage Act include wedded couples in a licensed place of worship and such marriages take precedence over customary marriages particularly when conducted first, as in the present case.

In fact, Suzan Bujingo can be prosecuted criminally under Section 42 of the Marriage Act for going through a customary marriage with Aloysious Bujingo whom she knows to be married to Teddy Bujingo and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years.

But one may think that the sharp Pastor could have misled the innocent sheepy Suzan. This places the pastor in a tight corner because, under the laws of Uganda, he can be sued for a fictitious marriage to Suzan macula under section 48 of the Marriage Act and also a breach of promise to marry.

Under section 155 of the Penal Code Act Cap 120, the marriage between Aloysious and Suzan is termed as a fraudulent marriage and anyone found guilty of the same commits a felony and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for five years.

I want to think Aloysious Bujingo and Suzan Makula’s conduct will one way or the other preempt the court’s decision in the divorce petition filed in 2019. Aloysious being a party to this suit must be held liable.

The Ugandan laws are not silent on these two culprits. It only needs an effective and fervent legal system to have these two brought to book.

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