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Tue May 31 00:17:07 CAT 2016

Ex-lover taints Tsvangirai's image

Reuters | 13 September, 2012 00:40
LOVING COUPLE: Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and wife, Elizabeth Macheke. The couple are due to get married in Harare next Saturday but the union is being challenged in court
Image by: Sunday Times Africa Edition

A legal bid by a former lover of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to stop his wedding on Saturday has laid bare a messy private life and damaged the political reputation of the main rival to long-serving leader Robert Mugabe.

Locardia Karimatsenga, 39, has filed a high court injunction to block Tsvangirai's wedding to fiancee Elizabeth Macheka, arguing that she was his wife under the former British colony's "customary marriage" law.

Judge Antonia Guvava ruled yesterday that the wedding should go ahead but Karimatsenga's lawyer said he would appeal, meaning the saga could yet take another twist.

Having the nuptials blocked would be a major embarrassment for Tsvangirai.

The filing has sparked a frenzy in Harare newspapers, which have plastered their front pages with headlines such as "Tsvangirai wedding war", "Plot against PM intensifies" and "D-Day for PM Wedding".

While 88-year-old Mugabe has been criticised for turning what was once one of Africa's strongest economies into a basket case, Tsvangirai is now being publicly questioned over his relationships with women and money.

His personal troubles started after the death of his wife, Susan, in a 2009 car crash. They have handed Mugabe political ammunition with an election expected within a year.

Karimatsenga alleged she had suffered a miscarriage while carrying Tsvangirai's child last year, and that this had "mentally devastated him".

In June, the 60-year-old also confirmed that he had fathered a love child with a 24-year-old woman in Bulawayo and that he was looking after them both.

"It is embarrassing, plain and simple," a top MDC official said.

The High Court has also received another application from Karimatsenga in which she demands $15000 from Tsvangirai for her monthly upkeep, including $1700 for "hair and beauty therapy" and $1200 for telephone bills.

She is also seeking $3000 for rent, $4000 for groceries and $1500 as a clothing allowance - arguing that Tsvangirai has the money. Government workers in Zimbabwe earn an average $300 a month.

Making matters worse for Tsvangirai is his recent move into a $3-million state residence.

Zanu-PF is certain to pounce on Tsvangirai's private life in any election campaign.


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