PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s only daughter Bona tied the knot yesterday with her fiancé Simbarashe Chikore at a glitzy ceremony attended by some African presidents in Harare.
The private media was barred from covering the wedding at Mugabe’s private residence dubbed “Graceland” for its opulence, but part of the ceremony was beamed live on ZTV.
Roman Catholic Church vicar-general Father Kennedy Muguti joined the two in holy matrimony.
Mugabe was frequently shown on the screen sharing a laugh with his wife Grace.
As they shared their vows, Chikore revealed that he could spend six hours on the phone with Bona who did her tertiary education in the Far East.
Zambian president Michael Sata, DRC’s Joseph Kabila, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma and Teodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of the Equatorial Guinea attended the colourful ceremony.
Former Deputy prime minister Athur Mutambara also made a public appearance at the wedding after a long time.
Iconic Congolese musician Kofi Olomide was expected to head the list of high-profile performers at the event.
Others included South Africa’s Soweto String Quartet, Jah Prayzah and Sulumani Chimbetu.
But mystery persisted about Bona’s husband who last August forked out lobola or bride price, of about $35 000 plus 15 cows to Mugabe for the hand of his 24-year-old daughter.
There have been reports that Chikore is a pilot with Emirates Airlines, but aviation sources in Harare say they have no record of him being a pilot.
Bona was born to Mugabe’s second wife, Grace, six years before the couple wed in 1996 while his first wife, Sally,was still alive.
Zimbabweans only found out that their president had children with Grace, his girlfriend from the typing pool, when a local magazine published a photo of Bona entering primary school at the Harare Dominican Convent.
At his 90th birthday celebrations last weekend, Mugabe said he was delighted his daughter was marrying: “Considering that I married . . . my second marriage when I was in the seventies, I had no hope that I would see my children grow old like this.”
Mugabe’s first child, a son, with his Ghanaian first wife, Sally, died when he was in detention in then Rhodesia.
Both Emirates Air and Qatar Airlines — where media reports said Bona’s husband worked — denied he is an employee.
Little is known of him except that his mother, Christine, is known as a “reverend” in a church group known as the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa.
Bona was a quiet, diligent child, who worked hard at school and managed to get into a technical college in Hong Kong where she passed accountancy exams and then did a Master’s degree in Singapore.
There she lived in a $4 million flat bought by her mother via a property company arranged by Jack Ping, a South African. The two later fell out and now the government has gone to court to try to claim the property.
White marquées were dotted over the huge garden at Mugabe’s residence, and kilometres of white wall surrounding the three-storey house were festooned with a fresh stripe of turquoise blue paint. Bronze Chinese dragons on a new terrace on either side of the heavily guarded front gates, were gleaming.
Several kilometres of a disintegrating road linking the Mugabe residence to the local country club were repaired and newly tarred at a cost to the bankrupt Harare municipality of about $500 000.
Many Zimbabweans have complained that desperately needed water and sanitation infrastructure maintenance projects in Harare have been sidelined in favour of preparations for the Mugabe wedding celebrations.
Despite Mugabe’s policy of indigenisation — ensuring that black Zimbabweans own majority shares in most companies — the wedding planners were white South Africans, who trucked several loads of tables, chairs, decorations and party paraphernalia into Zimbabwe.
However, the wedding planner refused to erect the high-end marquée large enough to sit 4 000 guests and equipped with chandeliers and other luxurious fittings, because the ground was too soggy following recent heavy rains.
Every individual involved in planning and working at the event was required to sign a privacy agreement. South Africans even suppled the sound system for the wedding.
— Additional reporting by Saturday Star