Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s internationally-publicized wedding set for Saturday hangs in the balance after a jilted lover successfully challenged Friday the issuance of his marriage license by a Harare magistrate.
But Mr. Tsvangirai’s lawyers immediately filed an urgent High Court application opposing the ruling hoping for relief.
Harare magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi cancelled Mr. Tsvangirai's marriage license after Locardia Karimatsenga Tembo claimed that the prime minister married her under customary law.
Video evidence presented in court showed that the premier paid a bride price or lobola for the ex-lover and asked for a wedding.
In his court papers, Mr. Tsvangirai disowned his emissaries who went to pay lobola at Locardia’s homestead and attached a dollar to the affidavit as a token for terminating the relationship commonly known as gupuro in the Shona culture.
However, the magistrate said Karimatsenga Tembo remains Mr. Tsvangirai's wife under customary law as the token to terminate the relationship was not properly given to her in terms of the African tradition.
A South African woman, Nosipho Regina Shulubane, had also approached the courts seeking to stop the wedding also claiming that the premier promised to marry her.
Shulubane’s application was thrown out of court due to lack of evidence.
Karimatsenga Tembo’s lawyer Everson Samkange said he was happy with the judgment.
Mr. Tsvangirai’s attorney, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, said the defense team filed an urgent High Court application seeking to reverse the ruling.
The matter had not been finalized late last night.
The premier’s spokesman, Luke Tamborinyoka, said the whole drama surrounding Mr. Tsvangirai's proposed wedding with his fiancée, Elizabeth Macheka, is politically choreographed to tarnish his image.
Elizabeth is the daughter of Joseph Macheka, a Zanu PF central committee member and former Chitungwiza town mayor.
The premier has been linked to several women and has allegedly sired a child with a Bulawayo woman, Loretta Nyathi, the daughter of prominent broadcaster, Inglam Nyathi.
Mr. Tsvangirai’s wife, Susan, died in a car accident in 2009.
All had been set for the wedding at the upmarket Raintree Lodge in Harare.
Meanwhile, Douglas Mwonzora, spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Mr. Tsvangirai, said the premier’s wedding would proceed as planned on Saturday despite the magistrate’s ruling to stop the ceremony.
“This is due to the fact that the prime minister’s High Court challenge automatically suspends the decision made by lower court (magistrate court).”
The spokesman insisted that Mr. Tsvangirai had done nothing wrong despite widespread condemnation by Zimbabweans on Facebook and other Internet social forums.
Asked to comment on how Mr. Tsvangirai and his fiancée are feeling about the drama and controversy surrounding their wedding, Mwonzora said: "They do understand that this is being stage-managed simply to spite them. This is the presidential election campaign brought forward”.
He noted that “they understand that and for that reason they are psychologically prepared for all this."
Critics said whatever the outcome of the appeal, the marriage saga has damaged Mr. Tsvangirai's reputation and raised questions about his relationships with women and money.
But his supporters believe this is a smear campaing to ruin his image before the next crucial polls set to end the shaky government of national unity formed in 2009 following years of political turmoil.