Businessman Frank Buyanga and his ex-girlfriend Chantelle Muteswa have been accused by a High Court judge of treating their love child "a football".
Justice Joseph Mafusire also took a swipe at Buyanga for lying before the courts.
The South African-based businessman had approached the court seeking a stay of execution of a High Court order by Justice Jacob Manzunzu compelling him to return his son to his mother.
However, Justice Mafusire rejected the application.
The judge also blasted Buyanga and Muteswa for treating their son like a "a football" and the courts and their playground.
"Someone should spare a thought for Daniel Alexander Sadiq (the child). No one can ever wish to share his experience. Certainly, not this court. It is the upper guardian of all minor children in Zimbabwe," said Justice Mafusire.
He expressed concern that since Buyanga and Muteswa's separation, the two have wrangling over the child's custody with reckless abandon.
"Buyanga and Muteswa have practically played football with the child and have used the courts as their playground," said Justice Mafusire in his judgment delivered on Friday.
The judge this had clogged the registry with their cases, having been to the magistrates' courts, the Children's Court, the High Court, and the Supreme Court.
"At one time or other, spurious complaints have been raised against judicial officials and some law enforcement agencies, purportedly for indecorous and biased handling of the case," said Justice Mafusire.
"Further, the protagonists have made accusations and counter-accusations against each other of snatching or kidnapping the child from the public places like a school and a shopping centre. Such behaviour is classically egocentric."
Justice Mafusire threw out Buyanga's application, criticising information placed before him.
"That is why I had asked upfront where the child was. My query has gone unanswered. The supplementary affidavit, purportedly in response to my questions, had left me none the wiser. Nor did the submissions during the hearing."
The judge warned litigants not to play "hide-and-seek" with courts and lawyers against behaving like "hired guns".
"They are officers of the court. Litigation is not a game of wits. It is a serious and scientific process to resolve disputes among individuals and to settle problems in society. The search for truth is paramount. It is a duty for everyone."
Justice Mafusire said a party that concealed information from the courts was unworthy of its protection or assistance, adding Buyanga was not being candid with the court and had lied.