Zimbabwe: Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s wedding blocked by court

Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai speaks at a rally of his Movement for Democratic Change party on November 20, 2011, in Chibuku Stadium in Chitungwiza, a suburb of Harare.

A Zimbabwe court ruled today that the Saturday wedding of Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, 59, and Elizabeth Macheka, 35, daughter of a politician in President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, cannot take place because Tsvangirai is already married, BBC News reported.

The court agreed with Locadia Tembo, 39, a commodity trader and sister of a Zanu-PF MP, who claims that she and Tsvangirai were married last November under Zimbabwe’s “customary marriage” law, BBC News reported.

Tsvangirai reportedly paid Tembo’s family a bride price of several hundred thousand dollars at the time, BBC News reported, but then he issued a statement calling the ceremony off.

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Another challenge to Tsvangirai’s wedding, from Nosipho Regina Shilubane, a South African woman who said the prime minister had promised to marry her, was dismissed today, Reuters reported.

Tsvangirai’s first wife, Susan, was killed in a car accident in March 2009.

The prime minister’s lawyers said they were working on an appeal. "The court made its ruling and now we don't agree with it," Thabani Mpofu, one of Tsvangirai’s lawyers, said, according to Reuters. "We are going to launch an urgent High Court application, which will be heard either tonight or tomorrow morning before the wedding."

The marriage mess has raised public questions about Tsvangirai’s judgment, the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper observed in an editorial, according to Reuters. "There are also career-related issues at stake, including public trust, opinion, voters and elections, and the question: is he fit to govern?” the newspaper said.