HARARE – It had all the making of a typical wedding — a priest, flowers, music and a towering white cake. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and “wife” Elizabeth Macheka even exchanged rings, just like they do in a real wedding.
Harare’s Glamis Arena was the venue of the “mock wedding” for Tsvangirai and his new woman, Elizabeth.
With no less than three women publicly chasing him, Tsvangirai yesterday made it clear he had settled for Elizabeth, a woman of extreme beauty fighting an ugly war to legally wed her man.
Fast-gaining a reputation as a playboy, Tsvangirai arrived at around 5pm in a convoy of about 20 expensive, top-of-the-range vehicles under police escort to a frenzied reaction from guests who had endured hours of waiting.
Some arrived at the Glamis Arena as early as 10am.
Among the high-profile guests was Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dhlamini.
Zambia’s Labour minister Fackson Shamenda was the best man and officials from Botswana and Tanzania were present.
State Enterprises minister Gorden Moyo was in the PM’s bridal chain.
In an act of extraordinary defiance, Tsvangirai staged the “wedding” a day after provincial magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi revoked his marriage licence after ruling that the PM was still customarily married to Locardia Karimatsenga.
Another woman, South African national Nosipho Regina Shilubane, had also approached the courts to stop the wedding claiming Tsvangirai had promised to marry her but the court threw out her bid.
Close to 2 000 people took their seats to congratulate the PM and welcome their new “mother”.
A Catholic bishop only identified as Makaka provided religious cover for the ceremony and made it clear this was a temporary move.
“Our celebration is a customary one. We still have to celebrate when the climate is clear,” he said.
Then the real fun began.
MDC organising secretary Nelson Chamisa grabbed the microphone and introduced the PM and his “bride” whom he introduced as a “nyungururwi” (a rare find). Mobs of supporters rushed towards the podium, only to be stopped by a barricade.
“The PM naamai are here now and they have wedded contrary to the propaganda that ZBC has been peddling,” announced Chamisa to rapturous applause.
Chamisa slammed Zanu PF and the state media, alleging their “plot” to block the wedding had flopped.
“What has been bound on earth has also been bound in heaven,” Chamisa said.
“The wedding has gone on well despite ZBC playing a bulletin every five minutes (demonising the PM). The wedding was cancelled at ZBC, court and other parties. Why? Because they did not want you to grace the wedding.”
Chamisa then invited the PM to the podium.
It is an act off the script of most Zimbabwean weddings, as grooms rarely give speeches.
“We always do slogans but today is a different day,” said Tsvangirai in his opening words, which were drowned by loud cheers from guests shouting his totem “Save, Save, Save.”
A flattered Tsvangirai called the throng to order before inviting his “bride” to join him. With guests shouting “nyungururwi”, a blushing Elizabeth, looking resplendent in a glittering white gown and a crown, sashayed to join her groom.
“Makadini henyu mose (How are you all?),” the “bride” said, waving and flaunting her glittering ring.
Tsvangirai took the mic back, and said: “Munhu haapihwi mukadzi necourt nhai veduwe, ungapihwa mukadzi nenewspaper zvingaita?
Zvino uyu ndakapfimba ndega, ndikaroora ndega, hapana akandipa cent ende ndichatofa ndinaye (A man is never given a wife by a court or a newspaper. That cannot happen. I charmed and married her on my own. Noone helped with a cent.
Till death do us part),” declared Tsvangirai, to the applause of his supporters.
“We as a party, we respect the law.
We do not violate the law but there are other people who would like to abuse the law for their own political acts,” the MDC leader said.
“That we reject, that we condemn. Vamwe vane vakadzi mudhadhadha kubva pano kusvika uko! Vamwe vanotora vakadzi vevamwe. Zvino ini chandapara chii? Majealousy? (Some have a chain of wives. Others snatch married women. What wrong have I done? They are jealous),” said Tsvangirai.
“I think I will qualify for the Guinness Book of Records as the first Zimbabwean to be refused to wed,” said Tsvangirai.
“We are going ahead. Munhu wemurume wega haugoni kuva nemazano. Zvino ndava navo mai venyu ava. Zvichemo zvinoenda nekunamaika (A man needs someone to help with ideas and I now have your mother here),” he said.
The PM’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said.
“What happened is that Macheka’s family officially handed over Elizabeth to be the wife of PM. Havana kuchata. Vabatanidzwa. (They have not wedded. They have been brought together.)” – Wendy Muperi