Tsvangirai in marriage muddle
Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is reported to have married Harare businesswoman Locadia Tembo, whose sister is a lawmaker for President Robert Mugabe’s party
The state-run Herald newspaper reported that Tsvangirai married the 39-year-old on Monday in a traditional ceremony where he paid a bride price, known as lobola, of $36,000 and 15 cattle to his in-laws.
Tsvangirai’s first wife died two years ago.
His new bride is a divorcee whose sister Biata Nyamupinga represents Mugabe’s ZANU-PF in parliament.
“Politics will be kept out of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s marriage to Ms Locadia Tembo, as their families belong to rival political parties,” The Herald said.
Tsvangirai’s office declined to comment on the reports splashed across Wednesday’s papers.
Privately owned NewsDay congratulated Tsvangirai, saying the new couple would face many expectations as the nation looks toward new elections, possibly next year.
“After a lot of speculation and rumour-mongering and bordering on scandalising him, it is very much in order to congratulate the prime minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai for the formal declaration of love and marriage to Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo,” the daily said in its editorial.
But the New Zimbabwe newspaper reported that Tsvangirai skipped Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, avoiding a swelling media scrum as confusion reigned over his reported marriage.
Tembo’s family says Tsvangirai paid US$36,000 lobola during a private traditional ceremony in Mazowe on Monday, and also requested a white wedding. But the Prime Minister’s aides have dug in and refused to discuss the affair – only repeating that Tsvangirai is not married, the newspaper said.
In off-the-record briefings, some of Tsvangirai’s friends say he only paid “damages” – compensation usually paid to the family of a woman pregnant with a first child out of wedlock.
Tembo, a wealthy 39-year-old business executive, also has a 16-year-old son. She is said to be expecting twins from her latest pregnancy.
Tsvangirai’s first wife Susan was killed in a car accident in March 2009, just weeks after the premier formed a unity government with his long-time rival Mugabe following failed elections in 2008. Tsvangirai, who received minor injuries during the crash, ruled out foul play.
Tsvangirai has six children with his first wife.
* The New Zimbabwean also reported that despite boycotting expectant MPs yesterday, Tsvangirai could not stop his marriage coming up on the floor of the House after Simon Khaya-Moyo (Zanu PF) brought up the issue in the Senate.
Khaya-Moyo said he wished to “take the opportunity to congratulate the Prime Minister on his marriage”.
His comments prompted an outbreak of laughter, desk thumping, paper waving and even polite outrage from some MDC Senators who yelled “it’s not true, it’s not true!” at a seemingly bemused Khaya-Moyo.
Zanu PF MPs, making play of the fact that Tembo is a sister to the party's MP for Goromonzi West, Biata Beatrice Nyamupinga, sang back: "Tauya naye muroora [We have brought the bride]".
But there will be no hiding place for Tsvangirai today, because Finance Minister Tendai Biti is scheduled to present the 2012 national budget in Parliament. President Robert Mugabe will reportedly also be in attendance.