Plot to ‘corner’ Tsvangirai into marriage
By Lance Guma
On Tuesday SW Radio Africa reported that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had paid US$36,000 lobola to marry his long term girlfriend, Harare businesswoman Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo. But we have since spoken to several senior MDC-T officials who told us Tsvangirai did not marry Tembo, but only paid US$10,000 ‘damages’ for getting her pregnant out of wedlock.
“This is in line with our culture. Tsvangirai did not even attend the ceremony but sent his emissaries there,” the official said. “What is happening now is an attempt by the Tembo family to embarrass Tsvangirai into marrying her. These people think they can corner him into marriage,” the official said.
On Tuesday reports suggested Tsvangirai and his son Edwin had visited the Tembo family home in Christon Bank, 20 km north-west of Harare. Tembo’s aunt, Felistas Tsine, even described how Tsvangirai removed his shoes and sat on the floor after arriving at their home.
This was however contradicted by Tsvangirai’s spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka who said: “The PM spent the whole day at his Charter House office.” On Wednesday Tamborinyoka reiterated his earlier statement that the PM did not marry Tembo, adding: “The only marriage the PM is concerned about is the dysfunctional marriage called the transitional government.”
Tamborinyoka refused to go into the finer details of the matter, telling SW Radio Africa: “If at all the Prime Minister is going to marry, the nation is going to be told at the appropriate time. What I am telling you is the Prime Minister’s position.”
Another MDC-T official told us it appeared ZANU PF had an interest in getting Tsvangirai married to Tembo, because she was the sister to the ZANU PF MP for Goromonzi West, Biata Beatrice Nyamupinga. Beatrice’s husband Felix Nyamupinga is also from ZANU PF and currently Zimbabwe’s deputy Ambassador to Australia.
“We are suspicious of their intentions in lying about Tsvangirai marrying her,” the official told us.
SW Radio Africa was told the state media had coordinated a ‘sting operation’ by getting all the editors together in a meeting and planning how the story would be covered. This was the reason the stories were similar and the details of the ceremony “were ‘sexed’ up to create a public relations nightmare for Tsvangirai.”
We also have information that the Prime Minister is angry with the Tembo family and feels they tried to ‘stitch him up’ with their daughter, using the media. The Herald newspaper for example gave prominence to an interview with Tembo’s sister Beatrice, commenting on the ‘marriage’.
“My sister is a humble and hardworking person and we have confidence in her as a family that she can withstand all the pressure that comes with her new status. As a family, we do not mix politics and family matters. From our party (ZANU PF) we have not heard anything bad about the marriage. In a family, we can choose to go to three different churches but that does not mean that we no longer belong to the same family,” Nyamupinga claimed.
Political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said the behaviour of the state media was instrumental in understanding what was at stake. “If Tsvangirai had married an individual who is solid, they would have lampooned and attacked him. To show that there is something very sinister about his arrangement, they are celebrating it, they are giving it good coverage, which is very dubious,” he said.
Ruhanya said the key figure in the whole matter was co-Home Affairs Minister Theresa Makone, the MDC-T Women’s Assembly Chairperson. “This woman (Tembo) is a friend if not relative of Theresa Makone and the MDC and anyone else who does not see the hand of Theresa Makone is not being honest.”
Ruhanya said Makone was working behind the scenes and had put Tsvangirai in this situation. “Tsvangirai does not go out looking for girlfriends, but he has personal friends who play matchmakers and at the heart of this free dating service is personal interest, namely controlling Tsvangirai. Makone should move out of the private activities of the Prime Minister and focus on her job as a public servant. This woman is a source of instability in the MDC-T,” Ruhanya said.
He said the onus was also on Tsvangirai to assess the type of people who surround him and give him advice.
Ruhanya said so far the MDC-T has demonstrated, “that it is not able to deal with the devil it knows. By the time they realise this, things could be out of hand. It could derail democratic transition.” SW Radio Africa made calls to Makone the whole day to get her comment on the allegations, but she did not answer. It’s likely she was in meetings the whole day.
Earlier this year it was reported that Tsvangirai had got a 23 year old Bulawayo woman pregnant. Loreta Nyathi, the daughter of radio legend Inglam Nyathi, is reported to have a son with Tsvangirai called Ethan. The PM is said to have bought a house for the family and committed himself to looking after the child. SW Radio Africa