Question Time looks at the confusion surrounding reports that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had married long term girlfriend Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo. Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya blames co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone for meddling in Tsvangirai’s personal love life. In a hard hitting interview he says Makone should focus on her duties as a minister.
Interview broadcast 23 November 2011
Lance Guma: This week the media was ablaze with the story that the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had paid thirty-six thousand US dollars in lobola for a new wife in Harare businesswoman Locadia Tembo. Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka however denied this, setting into motion a lot of confusion and speculation around the matter.
Political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya early this year advised Tsvangirai to settle down, arguing that history has shown the wives of political players are sources of stability or instability to their husbands. Mr. Ruhanya is my guest on this special edition of Question Time. Thank you for joining us.
Pedzisai Ruhanya: You’re welcome.
Guma: Now the media provided a lot of evidence that Tsvangirai had gone to the Tembo family to pay something but his spokesperson, Luke Tamborinyoka denied there was a marriage. Starting off point – what did you make of this whole story?
Ruhanya: I think I totally agree with Tamborinyoka. Those who understand our tradition know what damage means and for the Prime Minister to go and pay damage to someone with a 16 year old child and someone who has been married before, someone who was a divorcee is not what our culture says.
So when I read the story and I critically looked at what Tamborinyoka is saying, then I understood that there was no marriage, that the marriage was still-birth because the Prime Minister, as I understand him cannot go to pay damage to someone who is that age having been married before and has a child from a previous marriage.
What it indicated to me is that he was simply accepting something that he could have erred in the process but actually was denying that there was a marriage and that he was not prepared to co-habit with the lady.
Guma: Okay so what we know right now is that she is seven months pregnant, so are you saying given her age and the fact that she already has a 16 year old, Tsvangirai was not even obligated to go and pay those damages?
Ruhanya: Because if it is true that she is pregnant, it’s an acceptance maybe to say that he is responsible for the pregnancy but not to take the individual as his wife because if he was going to marry, there was no need to pay damage, damage for what?
Damage in our culture, ha, ha, means either that the individual was a virgin, the individual has been disturbed from her schooling or other activities but you cannot damage someone who has been married before and someone who has a child. So the damage that is being paid here is acceptance of what has happened and with an indication that they are not going to marry.
Guma: Okay so where has this come from – that Tsvangirai has married because there was quite a lot of heightened publicity around this, we saw all the state media papers covering this?
Ruhanya: If you look where this issue has come from, there are several sources. One source is the family who have come out clearly that Tsvangirai has married; the other source is the behavior of the state media which to me was very curious because if Tsvangirai had actually married and married an individual who’s solid, they would have lampooned Tsvangirai, they would have attacked Tsvangirai, they would have tried to do everything to soil that marriage but to show that there’s something that is very, very sinister about this whole arrangement, they are celebrating it, they are giving it good coverage which is very, very dubious.
The behavior of the Herald, the behavior of the state media as far as this marriage is concerned, to me is dubious to the extent that this marriage never happened. So there is the state media, there is also I think the role of the intelligence doing the bidding for Zanu PF to put Tsvangirai into bad public position and also the family to pressurize Tsvangirai and to blackmail Tsvangirai into doing what he doesn’t want.
And also there is a key factor, a key figure in this whole melee and this key figure is Theresa Makone. This woman (Tembo) is related to Theresa Makone, this woman is a friend of Theresa Makone and the MDC and anyone who does not see the hand of Theresa Makone is not being faithful to themselves. This woman is a source of instability in the MDC in the long run, in the short run and probably in the future of the party if they are not careful about her machinations.
Guma: So how should the Prime Minister’s office have handled this particular matter because there is a school of thought that perhaps if they had been more forthright in explaining the true circumstances of this, this could have been avoided?
Ruhanya: I think Tamborinyoka has done a good job; only that he has done it in a very intelligent manner. I must applaud Tamborinyoka for the way he has handled the matter. Anyone who listened to Tamborinyoka, anyone who has followed what Tamborinyoka has said is that there is no marriage and Tamborinyoka is the spokesperson of the Prime Minister.
He cannot go public to say that there is no marriage when the marriage takes place. So people should listen carefully and critically analyse what Tamborinyoka is saying. What Tamborinyoka is saying I have come to the conclusion that what Tamborinyoka is saying is the fact that there is no marriage, that it is still birth and I suppose there must be blackmail activities behind the scenes from the CIO, from the state media and particularly Theresa Makone.
Theresa Makone should do her job as a public figure and an elected member of parliament, a national executive member of the MDC and should move out of the private, personal activities of the prime minister because she is cooking rotten food around.
Guma: What’s her interest if you allege that she is doing this and…
Ruhanya: Obviously to control, to control the prime minister. The Prime Minister Mr. Tsvangirai has immense public support, immense public sympathy and he is the figure, the face, the driver of the democratic struggle in Zimbabwe and if elections were to take place in a free, fair environment, despite all these machinations, Tsvangirai is definitely going to occupy State House, he’s going to win elections.
So she thinks that she can be minister of Home Affairs, she can be, she is over-ambitious. The post that she holds currently does not deserve, she does not deserve it but she thinks that because of her closeness to the Prime Minster and all that kind of stuff she is there, not by merit but because of her political machinations.
What is she doing as minister of Home Affairs that you know, going to Matapi (police station in Mbare) to remove (Didymus) Mutasa’s children. Her traces, her linkages, the thread of Theresa Makone to Zanu PF is as clear as a goats behind and she is behind all this fuss.
Guma: Why would Tsvangirai, given a situation where maybe some of his officials are saying exactly what you are saying about Theresa Makone, why has he not acted? Why, does he owe Theresa Makone anything?
Ruhanya: This is for him to explain, hah, this is for him to explain but if he’s not careful by the time he realizes it, by the time he explains it, he could be political history. He needs to be very careful on issues to do with romance, on issues to do with his private life.
The most important thing that the prime minister must know is that he is a monumental political actor in Zimbabwe. He has contributed immensely to the democratization agenda and it is in the public view that Tsvangirai is the next president of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
So we will look at his private and his public activities because he is such a huge political player. People, a person who, where people have put their hopes to deliver us from the evils of the regime.
So those people like Theresa know that Tsvangirai, given free, fair elections will be the president of the Republic so they want to control him but we should not only blame Theresa, we should also give a caution to the prime minister, that he has to look at the people around him and see whether they are good for purpose or they are not good for purpose.
I can argue, I can write a thesis, I can write a PhD thesis to say that Theresa Makone is not fit for purpose.
Guma: Let’s look at the whole issue surrounding this particular matter. I’d like to contrast this with the response that I got from the Prime Minister when I interviewed him several weeks ago when he seemed to imply that his private life is just that – it’s private. Can we really separate his private life and his public life as the prime minister or a future president whichever way you…
Ruhanya: Of course we do agree that any politician has a private but you see there is a thin line between the private and the public especially if you are a public figure of that monumental life. The same applies to President Mugabe, we look into their private life because what they do influences everything that happens in the public domain. So we cannot hide under the issue of privacy, he has to be accountable, he has to be responsible and this is the time to be.
Guma: Let me just clarify a few things that have happened; I’m sure listeners who are listening into the programme would like to know – it was initially reported thirty-six thousand was paid in lobola, we are now told it’s actually under ten thousand US dollars. The state media had also reported that Tsvangirai went to the Tembo homestead, we are now told that is not true. The prime minister was nowhere near…
Ruhanya: Those issues tell me that there’s an underhand, that there are people who want to use this issue to destroy the prime minister. All the lies about money, the thousands, all the lies about him going there when they know, the state media know through the CIO that the prime minister was never there, they know through the family he did not pay that amount and that family did not say that they were given thirty-six thousand by Tsvangirai.
So allowing these lies, these half-truths to go around, particularly by the state media and some journalists who do not want to check facts and just write 36000, laziness in some journalist shows that there’s a hidden hand to think that Tsvangirai can be destroyed but I think that this is an issue that cannot destroy Tsvangirai but Tsvangirai must learn lessons from such kind of activities.
I think he is beyond this kind of disruption. The good thing is that he has good people like Tamborinyoka who is insisting on the truth and I think the line that is taken by Tamborinyoka must continue as it is, except that in fact they maybe in future need to say one or two things but Tamborinyoka has been doing and is doing a fantastic job. The prime minister did not marry.
Guma: Let’s look at Tsvangirai’s private life – obviously a lot of people are, he’s coming in for some serious criticism, this is now on record I suppose the second woman he has got pregnant in two years I think, people are looking at that obviously and asking questions.
Ruhanya: Yah but there’s no evidence that he impregnated the other woman or even this one. We are yet to find out. Those are speculations, the prime minister has never come out and said that he has done that. But there is an issue around his marital status which needs to be addressed. This is the critical matter. These issues about impregnating this and impregnating that one, is not factual, we don’t have…that kind of evidence.
Guma: Why is it important for Tsvangirai to get married? You made this argument…
Ruhanya: Not to get married?
Guma: Yah to get married yes.
Ruhanya: To simply settle down or to control his zip. It is important for him to control his zip as prime minister, not that he should marry, because we are not saying, it is not for us to say he should marry or he should not marry but he should behave in a manner that does not question his behavior as a politician, as a public figure. That’s what we are saying.
Guma: You did make the argument previously that women are a source of stability or instability depending on what sort of character they are and you even drew comparisons with the late Sally Mugabe and her effect on Mugabe. What would be the importance of a stabilizing figure for Tsvangirai?
Ruhanya: It’s important because the family of a public figure, of a monumental character like Tsvangirai, matters. Let me give you an example: the late vice president Nkomo had a wife, the late Mama Mafuyana did she ever have a scandalous story?
Ruhanya: Not that we know, so she was a stabilizing. We never heard about her shopping, her this and that and when she passed on people were really touched. That is what we expect. Even Mai Muzenda, what is it that you can say about that woman? Very little that you can. Those are the kind of individuals that you expect.
With the marriage to a public figure comes responsibility. Look at that how that appears on New Zimbabwe dot com, that woman, that Locadia woman, that is not in good taste for the poor in good taste for a country with economic problems such as Zimbabwe so to those people, those things matter.
Guma: Now we are told and this again is speculation but maybe you might have information on this, this whole issue about Locadia is creating some fissures within the MDC and there are various competing interests, what do you know about this?
Ruhanya: Ah I don’t think I have got any information but what I know as a matter of fact, people talk about it but they don’t want to confront it, Theresa Makone must extricate herself from the alleged role that she plays behind the scenes to do with the private life of the prime minister and she must do her work as a public figure and not think, because we hear that when she’s drunk she says that the prime minister is always in her pocket. How does a prime minister, a president of a whole political party go into a pocket of a political hoodlum like Theresa Makone?
That is overzealousness that we cannot accept but also the prime minister has a responsibility to make sure that he does the correct thing, it is not only about Theresa Makone but it is also his position and he should be seen to be controlled by some dubious elements within the party.
Guma: So what happens from here Mr. Ruhanya because this issue seems to be very messy now? Should the MDC come out and clarify this matter once and for all?
Ruhanya: I don’t think the MDC should come out, I think the prime minister will handle his case, his family will handle that case and I think Tamborinyoka is doing a good job.
Guma: Well Zimbabwe that’s Question Time. We were joined by political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya looking at the issue around the reported marriage of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and subsequent denials by his office that in fact no marriage took place. Mr. Ruhanya thank you for joining us on the programme.
Ruhanya: You are welcome.
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