Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai weds amid legal row

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai marries bride under polygamy custom, defying court ruling that he is already married.

    Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai weds amid legal row
    Tsvangirai had originally planned to marry under monogamous laws but his ex-lover went to court to stop it [EPA]

    Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has circumvented a court ruling to marry a woman under the country's customary laws allowing polygamy.

    Tsvangirai, 60, dressed in a black suit and Elizabeth Macheka, 35, in a white gown to exchange rings before hundreds of guests at a plush Harare wedding venue overlooking a flowing river on Saturday.

    Macheka is the daughter of a senior member of President Robert Mugabe's party, Tsvangirai's rival.

    The premier, whose wife of 31 years, Susan, was killed in a car accident in March 2009, had originally planned to marry Macheka under the country's monogamy laws, but an ex-lover filed for a court order to prove she was already his wife.

    Tsvangirai decided to get round the court order resulting in the cancellation of his marriage licence by staging the nuptials under Zimbabwe's alternative customary law allowing a man to have as many wives as he wants.

    The court ruling on Friday was ex-lover Locardia Karimatsenga Tembo's second attempt to block the marriage after a high court earlier in the week threw out her case on grounds that 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.

    Polygamy custom

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

    Tsvangirai ended his union with Tembo last year, saying the relationship had been "irretrievably damaged" to the point where marriage had become "inconceivable".

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

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

    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 party told the AFP news agency the "wedding ... is different from the one that was denied by the courts".

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

    Mugabe boycotted the ceremony, which was attended by deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and the Prime Minister of Swaziland, Barnabas Dlamini.

    A pipe band from one of Harare's top private schools played as Tsvangirai walked on a white carpet into the wedding ceremony. A banquet reception was due to be held at Harare's 25,000-seater Glamis Stadium.

    Tsvangirai's first wife died just weeks after he went into a unity government with his long-time rival Mugabe following failed elections in 2008.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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