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Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has divorced his wife of 12 days, blaming a ‘plot’ by secret agents loyal to his rival Robert Mugabe.
Mr Tsvangirai, 59, said ‘an active political hand’ was behind stories in newspapers controlled by the despotic president suggesting he had to marry Locadia Tembo, 39, because she was pregnant.
She is reportedly due to give birth to twins early next year. If true, it means Mr Tsvangirai got her pregnant before they married – taboo in Zimbabwe.
Rumours: Lorcadia Tembo (right) is said to have attempted suicide and only agreed to marry Morgan Tsvangirai because she was pregnant
Pro-Mugabe newspapers also took delight in reporting that his wife had tried to kill herself.
Yesterday Mr Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, blamed the negative media attention for his lightning-quick divorce.
‘There is a greater and thicker plot around this issue which has undermined my confidence in this relationship,’ he said. ‘The marriage has been hijacked and there is an apparent active political hand that is now driving the processes.
‘State security agents have weighed in to force and direct proceedings, which has resulted in everything regarding this relationship now taking place on camera. The intention is clear: to inflict maximum damage on my person and character for political gain.’
Newspapers controlled by Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party have been particularly assiduous in chronicling the fledgling union.
They had taken particular delight in detailing its alleged problems, including the claim that Miss Tembo has tried to kill herself and that it was a shotgun marriage prompted by her pregnancy.
Mugabe (left) shakes hands with Tsvangirai: The prime minister has been repeatedly beaten and arrested by state police
In a hard-hitting statement, Mr Tsvangirai said: ‘Since the day I married, everything has been played in the press and I have become an innocent bystander’, he said.
‘I have become a spectator and things are happening too fast, on camera and without my knowledge.
‘This has led me to conclude that there is a greater and thicker plot around this issue which has undermined my confidence in this relationship.’
As President of the Movement for Democratic Change, Mr Tsvangirai is the leading opposition political figure inside Zimbabwe.
Mr Tsvangirai with his first wife Susan: She was killed in a car crash in 2006
He has been repeatedly beaten and arrested for his political activity against Robert Mugabe’s regime.
However, following the disputed 2008 election, which independent election monitors said he won – but in which Mugabe claimed victory – he was persuaded to join his rival in a unity government.
Since then, the two men have fought a bitter cold war within the government in which Mugabe has been accused of trying to discredit his Prime Minister.
Mr Tsvangirai’s first wife, Susan, with whom he had six children, died in 2009 in a car accident, which he survived.
Robert Mugabe, 87, has ruled Zimbabwe ever since it independence from Britain in 1980.
Having once been the fertile ‘bread basket’ of Africa, however, the country is now one of the world’s poorest countries.
Three-quarters of the population live in extreme poverty on less than £1 a day and over half of the work force is unemployed.
In 2008 hyperinflation in the country reached the astronomical figure of 230million per cent – meaning that paper money became worthless almost as soon as it was printed. The former British colony now uses US dollars.
Following the disputed 2008 election, it is now ruled by a coalition of Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
However, the arrangement is marred by political infighting and is widely considered to be ineffective.
Mugabe is reported to be suffering from pancreatic cancer. He has indicated that he will hold elections early next year, although no date has yet been set.
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