Zimambwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s political prospects appear damaged with revelations about his private life. He claims he has been victim of a political plot with accusations echoing some of those familiar to those following the media scandals in the UK over the last few months.
There are two stories, perhaps interrelated here. The first is the furore over Mr Tsvangirai’s private life and the implications for his battle for power against Robert Mugabe. The second story is the wider set of issues in Africa around foreign intervention into traditional beliefs including the moral status of homosexuality.
In the UK, the first story was portrayed in these terms by the Telegraph, drawing extensively from its South African correspondents:
Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister, has walked away from a second marriage, 12 days after traditional negotiations, claiming he has been the victim of a plot to discredit him politically. Mr Tsvangirai lost his first wife of 31 years, Susan, in a car crash two years ago in which he himself was badly injured. [Since then]
He is understood to have met Miss Karimatsenga in South Africa last year and the couple went on holiday together at Christmas.
When the news of the marriage broke last week, Mr Tsvangirai’s office initially denied it, suggesting only that he had paid “damages” for impregnating her.
“My original intention was to make this thing work, to rebuild my family once again and to serve my 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 Miss Karimatsenga’s hand, he became “an innocent bystander in what is supposed to be my relationship”.
“The ‘marriage’ has been hijacked and there is an apparent active political hand that is now driving the processes.
“Everything is so well-choreographed. The intention is clear: to inflict maximum damage on my person and character for political gain.”
He also hinted that Miss Karimatsenga herself might have been in on the plot.
The Second story
The second story has emerged from the recent Commonwealth Leader’s meeting at Perth. Here’s how one report from Africa put it:
Not long ago, the media in UK reported how the UK government had indicated it would cut aid to Ghana, Malawi and other countries which were not gay-friendly… The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, would later confirm those reports. He told journalists at the Commonwealth Meeting in Perth that the UK government would cut aid to anti-gay nations. And one of these nations happened to be Osagyefo’s Ghana.
President John Evans Atta-Mills has called the bluff of David Cameron. He told journalists that no country could force Ghana to accept aid with conditions that contradict the values of the country. Under his presidency Ghana will never legalize homosexuality, he stated.
The same article went on to suggest that Morgan Tsvangirai had made a U-turn over gay rights (which was described as potentially a political blunder) under pressure from Western backers such as the UK Government.
Regional Issues in a Global Spotlight
Leaders we deserve has subscribers from around the world. It will be interesting to learn of regional perspectives of these important stories. “The leader as hero” in many parts of the world is being replaced by maps which claim the benefits of a post-charismatic perspective. In the West, we will at least have become more familiar with the traditional factors within the continued political “battle for Zimbabwe”.