Zimbabwean PM marries bride despite court ruling against it

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 4:55am


Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has circumvented a court ruling blocking his wedding after an ex-lover tried to stop the union.

Tsvangirai, 60, and Elizabeth Macheka, 35, exchanged rings before hundreds of guests at a plush Harare wedding venue overlooking a flowing river.

The premier - whose wife of 31 years, Susan, was killed in a car accident in March 2009 - had originally planned to marry under the country's monogamous laws.

But he decided to get round the court order resulting in the cancellation of his marriage licence by staging the nuptials under an alternative customary law that allows a man to have as many wives as he wants.

The ruling last Friday was Tsvangirai's ex-lover Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo's second attempt to block the union after a high court earlier last week threw out her case saying she failed to prove she was the premier's wife.

But she went to a lower court armed with video evidence of the traditional marriage ceremony during which Tsvangirai's emissaries were shown paying the bride price on his behalf.

The premier's urgent appeal at the high court early on Saturday to overturn the magistrate's ruling was dismissed, forcing him to marry under a different law or cancel the ceremony.

Tsvangirai had ended his union with Tembo last year, saying that the relationship was "irretrievably damaged".

The magistrates' court last Thursday dismissed a similar case by a South African woman who claimed the premier had promised to marry her.

The Catholic priest who conducted the marriage ceremony said: "Our celebration is a customary one … We still have to celebrate (a monogamous marriage) when the climate is clear."

The pair did not sign a register recording the marriage as monogamous, as they had wished.

A senior officer from Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said the "wedding … is different from the one … denied by the courts".

Macheka is the daughter of a senior member of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party that was forced into a compromise coalition government with Tsvangirai's MDC after election chaos in 2008.

Mugabe boycotted the wedding, which Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini attended.