THE weather was as fine as one could hope for on such a day, while the atmosphere which engulfed Raintree — upmarket venue of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Elizabeth Macheka’s marriage ceremony in leafy Umwinsidale in Harare — was heavenly, a far cry from the hellish if dramatic events which had ensued during the course of the week.
Report by Wongai Zhangazha
Raintree, nestled in Umwinsidale valley, offers a breathtaking vista with pine forests, landscaped gardens and sweeping lawns that roll down to meet the Umwinsi River, which cascades over a granite rock waterfall to settle in an idyllic pool below. Overlooking this beautiful venue is a Msasa woodland where it is not uncommon to see the odd giraffe and buffalo as they idle away the day and perchance to hear the call of a fish eagle echoing from within the serene valley.
Glittering across the parking area were top-of-the- range car marques for the high-flying who-is-who; the latest Range Rovers, Cadillacs, Bentleys, Escalades, Mercedes Benz and BMWs.
The wedding scene showed Tsvangirai — who recently moved into a US$3 million Highlands mansion and has been gallivanting on holidays — is now living a high-class lifestyle compared to millions of his poverty-stricken supporters. Security was tight, as one would imagine.
Guests had to go through vigorous checks before being allowed into the venue.
The organisers were not leaving anything to chance – those not on the guest list were quickly turned away.
Following a hectic week at the courts fighting to save his wedding, gatecrashers were the last thing Tsvangirai and his bride wanted at the occasion reduced to a customary affair after ex-lovers Locardia Karimatsenga-Tembo and Nosipho Regina Shilubane from South Africa filed separate urgent applications at the Harare Magistrates’ Court in a bid to halt the event.
Karimatenga-Tembo successfully challenged the planned civil wedding after the courts ruled that Tsvangirai was still married to her and a marriage licence issued by the court last month was revoked at the eleventh hour. However, at Raintree the tumultuous events which unfolded during the week seemed like a galaxy away. The glitzy wedding convoy consisting of a limousine and equally imposing Mercedes Benz and SUVs arrived with the St Johns College Pipe band playing ever-so-softly in the background.
Both groom and bride strolled on the red carpet to the magnificent and colourful marquee set by the river-side, after Tsvangirai’s mother Lydia, Elizabeth’s father Joseph Macheka and his wife, bridal team and best man Zambian minister of Labour Fackson Shamenda had led the way and taken their seats.
Elizabeth was dressed in a beautiful white gown, with a choker and jewelry on her forehead like an Indian Tikka and huge earrings, while the groom was clad in a black suit and black and grey bowtie. The bridesmaids were dressed in turquoise blue gowns, tight-fitting from top to just above the knee, and flared like a fish tail with little silver crowns.
The male bridal team, which included State Enterprises minister Gorden Moyo, donned black suits and turquoise blue cravats. The attire would have won the approval of any stylish fashionista.
After telling the bride and groom to stand, Catholic priest Father Patrick Makaka quickly explained that the wedding was only a traditional ceremony bringing the two together and civil proceedings would take place after Tsvangirai had sorted out the legal matters with Karimatsenga-Tembo. He said love, not a signed marriage certificate, was what should forever bind Tsvangirai’s and his wife.
The couple then exchanged gold rings after which guests made a beeline to congratulate them before they left for Glamis Arena in a convoy of 15 to 20 cars, where MDC-T supporters were celebrating the union. Notables at the wedding included swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry who was dressed in a short green dress with beige shoes and was with fiancé Tyrone Seward. Harare mayor Muchadei Masunda and his wife also graced the event as did Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and wife.
Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe and deputy minister of Women’s Affairs Jessie Majome wore “African attires”, while Finance minister Tendai Biti was clad in a grey silver suit and his wife a maroon dress. The wedding party arrived to blaring music from Brenda Fassie’s Wedding Song as more than 800 guests ululated, cheered and whistled in appreciation.
MDC-T chief Whip Innocent Gonese, deputy secretary-general Tapiwa Mashakada and party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora set the dance floor alight, as they cheered on the bridal party. Entertainment was provided by veteran disc-jockeys Kudzie Marudza and Witness Matema, while Barry Manandi and Mike Madhodha were the masters of ceremonies.
At the high table, Tsvangirai and his bride were flanked by Mutambara and his wife, Khupe, Moyo, the best man and maid of honour. Reverend Chisvo opened the celebrations with a prayer, while Desire Moyo recited a poem hailing Tsvangirai for overcoming hurdles that threatened to stop his wedding. Speeches and presents followed.
Revellers later danced the night away to old skool songs like the classic Solo na Mutsai , Rudo imoto and Chitekete. Guests were treated to food and drink galore, while superstar Oliver Mtukudzi strummed romantic ballades in the background. After dinner Tsvangirai and his bride danced to Mtukudzi’s romantic hit Svovi Yangu.
Romance was evidently in the air.
Tsvangirai delighted guests when he danced to P Square’s song Chop My Money. As if not to be outdone by the guests, the bride and her bridal team danced to blazing South African house music before she changed into a pink gown. The revelry continued as the wedding party went on until the early hours of Sunday.
In the end, Tsvangirai’s wedding was a symbol of his new-found life of luxury.