Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, whose wedding plans appeared to have been thwarted when a court ruled he was already wed to a former flame, pressed ahead with his marriage on Saturday under a custom that permits polygamy.
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The scandal – which had also seen another woman challenge his wedding plans – has gripped the nation and handed his rival, President Robert Mugabe, political ammunition as he seeks to extend his three-decade rule in an election expected within a year.
Tsvangirai could not be married in a legally recognized ceremony because of the embarrassing ruling. In an apparent bid to save face, he instead held a ceremony under Zimbabwe’s “customary marriage” practice.
The 60-year-old and Elizabeth Macheka, 35, exchanged rings and promised to love each other. But there was no signing of a marriage certificate or vows of monogamy.
A magistrate said on Friday that Tsvangirai’s former flame Locardia Karimatsenga had proved she was his wife under the customary marriage practice. A man can have several customary marriages, but if he has wed under the practice is precluded from holding a legal marriage ceremony.
Days earlier, another woman, South African Nosipho Regina Shilubane, also filed a court challenge to stop the wedding, saying she was engaged to the prime minister, with whom she said she had been romantically involved since 2009.