Role sought for Tsvangirai's wife
Elizabeth Macheka will be up against Grace Mugabe when her new husband, Morgan Tsvangirai, runs for the top job in the next election.
The prime minister tied the knot with Macheka after months of speculation - and a botched marriage to Lorcadia Karimatsenga-Tembo.
Tsvangirai officially introduced his wife to President Robert Mugabe and Vice-President Joyce Mujuru on Monday. Last week a traditional ceremony was carried out at Tsvangirai's homestead in Buhera.
Tsvangirai's spokesman, Luke Tamborinyoka, said his boss's new wife was expected to take up the role fulfilled by his late wife, Susan, who died in 2009.
"She is the new mother figure for our struggle. She will guide the prime minister through the difficult times ahead," he said.
Senior members of the MDC-T, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were concerned that Macheka had close links with Zanu-PF. They also said Karimatsenga-Tembo had Zanu-PF links.
"Maybe she is Zanu-PF at heart. It is dangerous to lie with the enemy, especially now that this is the greatest chance ever to unseat Mugabe. But since love has no boundaries, there is nothing we can do but to hope that she will stay loyal," said a member of the MDC-T's women's league.
Macheka has yet to find her feet within the party. Her opposite number, Grace Mugabe, is largely viewed as a mother figure by Zanu-PF members. They refer to her as Amai , Shona for "mother".
Grace Mugabe has managed to stay away from factional politics. Macheka needs to earn respect within the MDC-T.
When election time approaches, the two leaders will go on their nationwide campaign trails.
Mugabe usually conducts his "star rallies" with his wife by his side. They usually wear identical Zanu-PF regalia, with Mugabe giving his campaign speech and Grace portraying a closely knit family. Their children sometimes make a guest appearance .
Political analyst Trevor Maisiri of the International Crisis Group said it was too early to judge what effect Macheka would have on Tsvangirai's presidential bid.
"As Africans we value the marriage institution. It is one way of showing maturity, because when one gets married one is expected to make informed decisions.
"It is up to the MDC-T and Tsvangirai to find a role for his new wife in the political matrix. There are some women who choose to be behind the scenes and there are some who want to take an active role. If she is to be active in politics she first has to study how the First Lady conducts herself," Maisiri said.
Macheka is the daughter of Zanu-PF stalwart Joseph Macheka, a former mayor of Chitungwiza. She is also the widow of a former Air Force wing commander, Mabasa Guma, who died in a car crash in 2002.
She runs a beauty salon and a clothing boutique in the Avenues area of Harare.
Tsvangirai paid a bride price of $36,000 and 15 cattle to marry Karimatsenga-Tembo in a customary marriage. However, he called off the wedding in November, citing the alleged involvement of state security agents.