HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has urged people to observe the sanctity of marriage and desist from extramarital affairs.
Mugabe has in the past blasted senior officials in his party who have been making headlines due to their failed marriages, saying they were setting a bad example to their families and were a disgrace to the nation. He himself snatched his current wife from a former Senior Airforce officer, Retired Wing Commander Goreraza.
Mugabe was speaking at the wedding of Praise Emily Gono and Tshalahika Malaba.
Praise Emily Gono is daughter of former Reserve Bank Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, while her newly married husband is son to former Chamber of Mines Chief Executive Officer, Mr Joseph Malaba.
In his congratulatory speech to the newly weds, Mugabe said those who are in marriage should be faithful to their spouses and be wary of negative influences from friends and relatives that may want to tear their union apart.
“We hear of small houses, sometimes I tease my Ministers saying some of you have small houses. If only we knew, those small houses perhaps we would go and destroy them. That should not be allowed.
“What do you want a small house for, what happened to your big house. ....you are married to one person and one person alone and if you had wanted you would not enter this type of union but have tried a traditional wedding,” said President Mugabe.
Mugabe urged the couple to be independent and work for their sustenance as they have shown maturity by starting their own home.
Father of the bride, Dr Gono, chronicled his daughter’s upbringing urging her marital bliss with her husband, while father of the groom, Mr Joseph Malaba said he never doubted that the two would get married as they have been friends for 11 years.
The First Family blessed the newly weds with a dinning room suite, a dinning set and US$6 000 while Bona Mugabe and her siblings gave a gift of US$4 000.
Guests were entertained by the bridal team while the First Lady also joined on the dance floor in what culminated to be a memorable day for the Malaba and Gono families.
The wedding was also attended by all members of the Mujuru faction, Zanu PF National Chairman, Simon Khaya Moyo, Zanu PF Secretary for Administration Didymus Mutasa and captains of industry.
The remarks by Mugabe are likely to touch a raw nerve in his Zanu PF party as senior officials like ministers Ignatius Chombo, Francis Nhema, Sylvester Nguni and party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo’s and Phillip Chiyangwa divorces have dominated headlines in recent years.
“I have been interacting with many people from Zimbabwe and other countries,” Mugabe said at the official opening the third Zimbabwe Local Government Association biennial conference in Mutare in May this year. “I noticed that men have a tendency to be loose. When you are married, you should respect that marriage.”
Mugabe accused his ministers of setting a bad example for their children who suffered the circumstances of being brought up in broken homes.
“There has been a number of divorces and I do not think that is building us at all,” the President lamented.
“We are creating difficult circumstances for our children. Do not spoil our nation. Pay great attention to our kids because they will grow up seeing that behaviour from you.”
Mugabe said his lieutenants were losing the respect of the people they led and this was breeding mistrust. He said he had heard a lot concerning the divorces, but he did not go into detail.
Chombo’s ex-wife, Marian, dominated news stories after she appealed to Mugabe to intervene during divorce proceedings with the Local Government minister.
Besides politicians, Mugabe said any person who holds public office should not be promiscuous.
As has become the norm, Mugabe blasted corrupt officials within local governments.
He advised that people should avoid voting for undeserving persons as they often were corrupt.
“Service delivery entails honest leadership, affordability, efficiency, reliability and sustainability,” he said. Consequently, it becomes crystal-clear that election into office should be a commitment to serve the people, never a door to lavish lifestyles at the expense of helpless citizens.
“Those councils which have apparently lost direction, choosing to pursue self-serving interests instead of providing efficient services to the people, would do well to learn from those which have remained true to their service charter.”
Despite public condemnation of corruption, Mugabe has come under fierce criticism that he only pays lip service to graft and if he was genuine he would have fired senior officials in his government who are accused of sleaze.
Members of Mr Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) were awestruck as details of Mr Chiyangwa’s vast wealth emerged in public through the divorce demanded by his wife, Elizabeth.
Divorce details of another ally of Mr Mugabe in 2010 — Ignatius Chombo, the local government, rural and urban minister — from his wife of 25 years, Marian, also embarrassed the ruling party.
On that occasion Marian Chombo demanded in court papers $2,000 in maintenance, ownership of several farms, mines, safari lodges in Chiredzi, Hwange, Magunje and Chirundu, as well as properties in SA that Mr Chombo owned.
Mr Chombo was listed as owning 10 family companies, 15 vehicles, 75 residential and commercial stands, 14 houses and five flats dotted across the country. But Mr Chiyangwa’s wealth appears set to overshadow Mr Chombo’s — a fleet of luxury vehicles, 109 properties and 40 companies that have been valued at more than $260m.
Ms Chiyangwa claims her husband — a successful property trader and a former MP for the Chinhoyi constituency — earned more than $900,000 a year from several private schools he has set up and "other millions" from more than 40 companies he owns.
Mr Chiyangwa is the founder of the Affirmative Action Group, which is leading Mr Mugabe’s push to grab foreign-owned companies under the country’s controversial 51% indigenisation programme.
Mr Chiyangwa is proud of his extensive "Native Investments" portfolio despite the fact that the majority of Zimbabwe’s estimated 13-million population is wallowing in poverty.
United Nations estimates place 94% of the population as unemployed, with the poverty datum line at $600 for a family of six.