22 April 2012

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai in a Fix Over New Fiancée

Photo: Daily News
MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and his fiancée, Elizabeth Macheka.

FEARS have mounted in the MDC-T that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has entrapped himself by getting engaged to a daughter of a Zanu PF central committee member who was fingered in violence in which one person died.

Their concerns were raised yesterday, a day after the PM engaged Elizabeth Macheka, daughter of senior Zanu PF official and former Mayor of Chitungwiza, Joseph Macheka.

Macheka was accused of shooting to death a man and wounding two others during the January 1998 food riots.

The Attorney General refused to prosecute, claiming that he was acting in self-defence, a position criticised by human rights activists, who felt the office succumbed to political pressure.

Some officials from his party said Tsvangira's decision to marry the daughter of a senior Zanu PF official who has in the past been accused of political violence and murder, has compromised his position.

Tsvangirai has repeatedly promised that if he wins elections, an MDC-T government would bring to justice perpetrators of violence, who have remained scot-free because of the current selective application of the law by the Zanu PF dominated government.

The Standard was told officials could however not openly challenge Tsvangirai's decision, since he earlier warned them that matters to do with his marriage were personal.

Tsvangirai engaged businesswoman and fiancée of one year, Elizabeth, five months after ending a controversial and brief marriage to another businesswoman with Zanu PF links, Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo.

Locadia is a sister to Beatrice Nyamupinga, a Zanu PF MP and relative of the Mujuru family. Her marriage to the PM raised fears within the MDC-T that the party had been infiltrated.

State Security agents were also said to be running the show behind the scenes to damage Tsvangirai's reputation ahead of elections this year or in 2013.

Tsvangirai's new lover is the former wife of the late Air Force of Zimbabwe wing commander, Mabasa Simba Guma, who died in a car accident along the Harare-Bulawayo road in 2002.

"Tsvangira's decision has shocked many of us in the party who know that Zanu PF is capable of using anything at their disposal, including sex and women in order to destroy an individual," said a Harare-based MP.

An MDC-T National Executive Committee member said the party had many eligible single women, who Tsvangirai could have married to avoid getting entangled in Zanu PF politics and machinations.

"Unfortunately, he does not listen to anyone, save for the likes of the Makone family. We just hope that this new women in his life is not going to cause disturbances in our party," said the official.

The MDC-T officials, analysts and some members of the public said it would be difficult for him to act against his father-in-law and his political associates in the event that he wins the next elections.

University of Zimbabwe Political Science Lecturer, Shakespeare Hamauswa, said Tsvangirai's engagement and planned marriage to Elizabeth was tricky because of the culture of politics of patronage in the country.

He said, under a functionary democracy, the law applies to everyone equally regardless of status in society, but in Zimbabwe, that culture was still not there.

"In Zimbabwe, if someone is connected to the politically powerful, he or she is generally safe and can escape arrest in the event of a wrongdoing or end up being pardoned after all," said Hamauswa.

He said Tsvangirai's supporters would always question how the two got involved, considering his previous relationship to Locadia went sour after it was allegedly hijacked by Zanu PF and intelligence operatives.

"A spouse is a closest friend and there is real fear that she can leak MDC secrets to Zanu PF," said Hamauswa.

He said in the event of winning elections, how Tsvangirai would handle the matter would also largely depend on the constitution of the day.

Hamauswa said if the current constitution was retained, independence of the Judiciary would continue being compromised, making it easy for him to influence decisions.

But if a new constitution is adopted, the independence of the Judiciary would be restored, making it impossible for anyone to interfere with the processes.

Tsvangirai free to marry anyone: Makumbe

Political Scientist, Professor John Makumbe (pictured) said he did not see anything wrong with Tsvangirai marrying the daughter of a senior Zanu PF official.

"It will be unfortunate if Tsvangirai sweeps under the carpet cases involving senior Zanu PF officials, including that of his father-in-law," he said.

"The law is the law. I don't think it will be a problem applying the law if such cases come to light."

Makumbe said Tsvangirai's fiancée was free to marry the Prime Minister despite her Zanu PF connections, arguing that children should not suffer because of mistakes made by their parents.

Ordinary people express mixed views over PM's engagement

Ordinary people interviewed by The Standard also expressed diverse views about Tsvangirai's latest move.

"I don't see any problem with what he has decided to do," said a Harare-based businessman, Dominic Mazarire. "Personal issues like love affairs have no boundaries, so I don't think this will have any meaningful impact on his career and ambitions," he said.

A Mutare-based relief worker said Tsvangirai's move was controversial and showed how confused he was. "It's a case of double standards, especially when you look at his previous scandal involving Locadia. It's just lack of intelligence and his maturity is really questionable. What is he trying to portray to Zimbabweans and his following?" said the man who requested anonymity. "He just does his things on impulse."

A Bulawayo-based medical practitioner, Harold Shiri said Tsvangirai was entitled to marry any woman he wanted.

"It's a tricky issue. It all doesn't matter who it is that he marries. Everyone has a right to a personal life, everybody deserves a chance to do as they please with their life regardless of political considerations," said Shiri.

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InFocus

Tsvangirai Engagement Stirs Controversy in Zimbabwe

MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and his fiancée, Elizabeth Macheka.

The engagement of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to the daughter of a member of President Robert Mugabe's party is stirring controversy in all parties. Read more »