Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s “wedding” was yesterday turned into a “bride hand-over ceremony” after the presiding priest at the event declared that his marriage to Ms Elizabeth Macheka was improper.
The ceremony was held without a proper exchange of marriage vows following a court decision to cancel the couple’s marriage licence.
The presiding priest, Father Patrick Makaka of the Roman Catholic Church, told guests that the event was not an official wedding but a traditional occasion where Ms Macheka was being handed over to the Tsvangirai family.
He said another ceremony should be held to officialise the marriage.
“This wedding is not sanctioned by law. This is only a customary ceremony where the Macheka family has officially handed over their daughter to Mr Tsvangirai,” he said.
“This is just a customary occasion. We hope there will be another formal process to solidify this union.”
Fr Makaka, however, said the regularisation of the marriage through the courts should not hold back the couple.
“There are marriages in this country which are just on paper. This marriage is a union that God has put together . . . If you are to look into some families, they are only holding on to paper marriages.
Some of these marriages are dead because they are only on paper without true love and affection,” he said.
The Prime Minister arrived for the event at around 2pm accompanied by his best man, Zambian Labour Minister Dr Fackson Shamenda. Ms Macheka pitched up an hour later and was presented to the premier by her father, Mr Joseph Macheka.
The couple exchanged rings. They also exchanged vows, which the presiding priest said were mere statements of commitment and not proper wedding vows. The gathering of about 1 000 cheered after Prime Minister Tsvangirai kissed Ms Macheka. The two then drove to Glamis Stadium where Mr Tsvangirai briefly addressed a crowd of around 200 people.
He blamed “jealous people” for trying to ruin his union with Ms Macheka.
“I will go into the Guinness Book of Records as the first Zimbabwean kurambidzwa kuchata (to be barred from wedding) . . . I have never seen anything like it. There are jealous people out there.
“Munhu haapihwe mukadzi necourt kana nemapepa. Mai Tsvangirai varipano! (The courts or media do not give one a wife. Mrs Tsvangirai is right here!)” he said, kissing Ms Macheka.
The couple later returned to the main ceremony and immediately danced to late South African musician Brenda Fassie’s hit song, It’s a wedding day.
Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi also serenaded guests with some of his popular tunes. President Mugabe and several regional leaders who were scheduled to attend the event did not turn up.
Swazi Prime Minister Dr Barnabus Dhlamini was the only regional leader at the ceremony. In an interview, Deputy Media, Information and Publicity Minister Mr Murisi Zwizwai, who was in charge of organising the ceremony, confirmed that President Mugabe and several regional leaders had been invited to attend the wedding.
“The President was part of the official programme and he was due to address, but obviously the court’s decision had an effect on his appearance,” he said.
“There were also other leaders, especially from Sadc, who we expected to attend, but they failed to do so because the court decision had diplomatic ramifications.”
Sources said some of the leaders who had been invited include President Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania), Ian Khama (Botswana) and Joyce Banda (Malawi).
Present at the function were Deputy Prime Ministers Professor Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe, MDC-T Cabinet ministers and European diplomats.
Addressing the gathering, Mr Macheka said his daughter had fallen in love with Tsvangirai because she knows little about politics.
“I asked her about the relationship and grilled her on whether she really loved him. Elizabeth knows little about politics.”
Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s wedding was stopped after a Harare Magistrates’ Court cancelled his marriage licence. This was after his wife, Ms Locardia Karimatsenga Tembo, applied for the cancellation.