Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai moved Wednesday to bring an end to the soap opera that has engulfed his personal and professional life in recent weeks, issuing a statement to the nation saying that although he paid a lobola or bride price two weeks ago to the family of Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo, he no longer intends to marry her.
Mr. Tsvangirai said he had been caught up in a media storm nurtured by the country's secret police, the Central Intelligence Organization, alleging a vague "plot."
"I feel that the people of Zimbabwe deserve to know my position on this matter, which to a large extent has damaged not only the reputations of the two of us involved in this relationship, but equally so the public image of the [two] families," he stated.
"Like every cultured Zimbabwean, on Friday, 18 November 2011, I sent a delegation to the Karimatsenga family homestead to perform traditional and cultural rites to formalize this relationship." Mr. Tsvangirai continued, alluding to the death of his first wife Susan in a highway accident in March 2009: "I was well meaning and had good intentions to rebuild my family and start a new lease of life" following that tragedy.
It was and remains unclear whether that traditional ceremony was intended by the parties involved to be a betrothal or the sealing of a marriage contract or, as some accounts had it, the payment of a reparation for fathering a child out of wedlock. Complicating matters, traditionalists noted that holding such ceremonies in November is taboo.
Since then, "everything has been played in the press and I have become and innocent bystander in what is supposed to be my relationship," he wrote. "I have become a spectator in this relationship and things are happening too fast, on camera and without my knowledge. This has led me to conclude that there is a greater and thicker plot around this issue which has undermined my confidence in this relationship."
He added: "This 'marriage' has been hijacked and there is an apparent political hand that is now driving the processes. State security agents have also weighed in to force and direct proceedings," putting the relationship in the glare of the media.
Mr. Tsvangirai has been under pressure from all directions including senior members of his Movement for Democratic Change to set the record straight.
The prime minister said he remained unfazed by this chapter in his life, adding that it will not deter him from his responsibility to serve the Zimbabwean nation.
Reached by the Voice of America, Beatrice Nyamupinga, sister of Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo and a member of parliament for the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe, declined to comment on the tangled affair, aspects of which remain unclear.
Political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya said that in issuing a statement, Mr. Tsvangirai chose the best of a number of bad options for dealing with the imbroglio, which "should have been avoided" had he and his staff handled the matter properly from the start.
“There is a breeding ground in the MDC which makes the prime minister susceptible to" such complications, Ruhanya said. "The prime minister and the party must deal with the enemies within - those who give oxygen to the infiltrators ... the state agents."
Commentator Isaac Dzikira said Mr. Tsvangirai should simply accept responsibility for his actions. He said the prime minister has a tendency to shift blame. We thought that this was his political approach but it is amazing that it is [also] a personal approach.”
“What is tragic is that instead of the prime minister apologizing for impregnating a woman that he is not married to, he is apologizing that the CIO and the media have stopped him from marrying a woman that he never wanted to marry," Dzikira said.
"The whole thing does not make sense."