via ‘It’s okay to have many wives’ – DailyNews Live by Bridget Mananavire 16 DECEMBER 2013
Mugabe yesterday said there was nothing wrong with local men taking many wives as long as it was done openly, raising questions on where exactly the president stands on polygamy.
In a post-election change of heart, Mugabe told mourners at the burial of polygamist Eric Nyakudya Gwanzura, a veteran politician and liberation war icon, that he believes that polygamy was okay.
In thinly-veiled remarks at the National Heroes’ Acre targeted at his rival Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe said: “Don’t play women as we have seen done by some elements in MDC. If you want them as your wives, just do it, it’s okay.”
Tsvangirai, whose first wife, Susan, died in a car crash in March 2009, was linked with a string of women in the aftermath of his spouse’s death and had to deal with claims that he fathered a child with a 23-year-old Bulawayo woman.
But the father of six finally settled down with the imposing Elizabeth Macheka — daughter of Zanu PF central committee member and former Chitungwiza Mayor Joseph Macheka.
The couple moved into a plush pad in the A-list neighbourhood of Highlands last year ahead of their September 2012 wedding.
Mugabe said he had only learnt of Gwanzura’s polygamist nature at his burial while his son presented a graveside eulogy.
“He fell short of having 20 children as he had 19 and 65 grandchildren,” Mugabe said. “That is the life he chose. I never knew he had three wives, he kept his life private.”
The witty 89-year-old leader chuckled that the family should form their own football team and call it “Gwanzura Special”.
Gwanzura Stadium in Harare’s township Highfield was named after the late national hero, who was instrumental in the stadium’s building.
Critics say Mugabe’s presidency has been filled with U-turns. Mugabe’s decision yesterday to do a 180 degree about-turn on the issue of polygamy is the latest major reversal by a presidency that has become increasingly adept at making them, usually without batting an eyelid.
At the wedding of his niece Shammah Chidhakwa, who married Nicholas Bhero in Harare in October, Mugabe encouraged the newly-weds to remain faithful to each other and said he had shared the same advice with his ministers whom he expected to lead by example.
“The wealth some of these people have is what is causing problems,”
Mugabe said on October 30. “Small houses, small houses! I said to Cabinet the other day: ‘looking at all of you, who can I say does not have a small house?’
“Let us not follow that. One man, one wife and your marriage will go a long way.”
At the same wedding, Mugabe also criticised women for allowing themselves to be “concubines”.
“The ladies must fight this out, but they are the people in small houses,” he said.
Critics say Mugabe has shown a striking lack of consistency with regard to the question of polygamy.
Speaking at a recent Apostolic pilgrim ahead of elections, Mugabe said: “Our Constitution allows polygamy.
We will not force people into monogamous marriages. It’s there in the Bible; Solomon wasn’t only given wealth but many wives too. But we say no to gays! We will not listen to those advocating for inclusion of
homosexual rights in the Constitution”.
Mugabe has been Zimbabwe’s leader since independence in 1980.