Zimbabwe's prime minister said Thursday he has ended a relationship with a woman who claims they married in a traditional ceremony after she became pregnant, saying their affair turned out to be choreographed political sting.
Locadia Karimatsenga, a 39-year-old commodity broker, said she was pregnant with Morgan Tsvangirai's child, or possibly twins, according to media reports. The 59-year-old former opposition leader had lost his wife of three decades in a 2009 car wreck.
The state daily Herald newspaper reported Nov. 22 that Tsvangirai paid $36,000 and five cattle in traditional "bride price" at a ceremony last month at her family's homestead north of Harare. A church wedding apparently was to take place at a later date.
But Tsvangirai said he became concerned about the motives of the woman's family and whether him marrying her will "reflect marriage as the noble and respectable institution it is."
"My genuine intention has been betrayed, and hearts have had to search long and hard for the true meaning of this well-choreographed drama that has now been hijacked to cause political damage to my person and character," he said in Thursday's statement.
Karimatsenga is the sister of a lawmaker belonging to longtime President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party. Mugabe and Tsvangirai were political adversaries for years until they joined into a troubled power-sharing agreement in 2009.
That same year, Tsvangirai's wife, Susan, died in a car wreck after 31 years of marriage. The couple had six children together.
For two weeks, Tsvangirai's office repeatedly had denied that he paid bride price or compensation for any pregnancy, saying the only marriage he was concerned with was the uneasy one between his party and Mugabe's.
Zimbabwe's independent media sharply criticized Tsvangirai for not speaking out earlier, and questioned his judgment over his handling of the negative publicity it created.
Tsvangirai said details of the affair that were reported by pro-Mugabe journalists had been "deliberately planted" to besmirch his name.
"I want to admit that the last two weeks have been particularly bad for me, my children, my family and even ordinary Zimbabweans who have sought to find meaning in this sordid saga," he said.
"In hindsight, I could have done things differently ... I apologize to every single Zimbabwean for any discomfort caused by any of my actions," he added.