Tuesday 6 December 2016

Tsvangirai ends marriage 'sham'

Zimbabwe PM claims 12-day union was 'hijacked' to damage his character

Aislinn Laing in Durban and Peta Thornycroft in Johannesburg

Published 02/12/2011 | 05:00

Zimbabwe's prime minister has walked away from his second marriage after just 12 days, claiming he has been the victim of a plot to discredit him.

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Morgan Tsvangirai (59), whom many hope will take over the full reins of power in forthcoming elections, said the marriage to Locadia Karimatsenga had been "hijacked" and accused Robert Mugabe's state security agents of acting behind the scenes.

In an extraordinary statement, he said he had acted with "good intentions" by entering into formal negotiations with the family of his 39-year-old girlfriend, whose sister is a Zanu PF MP, on November 18.

But he said that after a series of detailed leaks to the media, he had lost trust in her and marriage was now "inconceivable". The prime minister, who is in an uneasy coalition with Mr Mugabe's Zanu PF after contested elections in 2008, broke his silence after more than a week of fevered speculation led by the pro-Zanu PF 'Herald' newspaper.

It claimed variously that Ms Karimatsenga was pregnant with twins, that Mr Tsvangirai had paid her family a $36,000 (€27,000) lobola -- dowry -- and that he had broken the hearts of at least four other girlfriends in doing so.

Holiday

Mr Tsvangirai lost his wife of 31 years, Susan, in a car crash two years ago in which he was badly injured. He is understood to have met Ms Karimatsenga, a commodity broker, in South Africa last year and the couple went on holiday together at Christmas.

When news of the marriage broke last week, Mr Tsvangirai's office initially denied it, suggesting only that he had paid "damages" for getting her pregnant.

When the bride's father threatened to release video of the ceremony, he issued a statement. He said he had intended to "serve (his) country with honour and distinction not only as a national leader, but as a respected family man who owned up to his responsibility by following cultural and traditional procedures".

But he said that from the moment he sent a delegation to negotiate for Ms Karimatsenga's hand, he became "an innocent bystander in what (was) supposed to be (his) relationship".

"This has led me to conclude that there is a thicker plot around this issue which has undermined my confidence in this relationship," he said. "The 'marriage' has been hijacked and there is an apparent active political hand that is now driving the processes. The intention is clear: to inflict maximum damage on my person and character for political gain." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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