By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
28 February 2014
South African President Jacob Zuma will be one of several regional leaders attending Bona Mugabe’s wedding on Saturday, his office has confirmed.
International relations spokesman Clayson Monyela said the SA leader will pay Zimbabwe a ‘working visit’ Saturday, and added that Zuma will attend President Robert Mugabe’s daughter’s wedding while in the country.
“South Africa and Zimbabwe share common historical and geographical bonds as demonstrated by the strong economic co-operation between the two countries,” Monyela said in a statement on Friday.
The wedding is expected to last 18 hours, and it remains to be seen how Zuma will divide his visit between work and play.
President Robert Mugabe’s office has tasked the state-owned Central Mechanical Equipment Department to hire hundreds of luxury vehicles for use by dignitaries invited to his daughter’s wedding.
The 24-year-old First Daughter is marrying pilot Simba Chikore in Harare, in what is expected to be one of the grandest affairs in recent times.
The glitzy tone for Saturday’s nuptials was underlined Wednesday when the groom-to-be Chikore rolled up for his bachelor’s party in a state-of-the-art Rolls Royce, with a number plate reading VVIP.
The party was held at the five-star Rainbow Towers Hotel, all courtesy of ZANU PF Cabinet ministers who were also in attendance.
Although the guest list remains a top secret, media reports estimate that 5,000 people have been invited, with several foreign dignitaries also expected to attend.
The venue has not been revealed but speculation is rife that the wedding will take place at Mugabe’s Borrowdale Brooke home.
A Friday NewsDay report said guests started arriving Thursday on coaches hired from national passenger firm ZUPCO, which were dropping them off at a school located not far from the Mugabes.
Shuttle buses will carry guests from Heritage Primary School to the plush residence, according to the Daily News.
Presidential spokesman George Charamba refused to say who exactly is footing the bill when asked by the NewsDay, raising fears that this will be passed on to taxpayers.
Harare residents are already unhappy after the government ordered the local authority to spend $1 million repairing the road leading to the Mugabe residence.
Social commentator Ellen Shiriyedenga said while Bona’s wedding is a happy occasion for her family it is also a private event which shouldn’t strain the public purse.
“Mugabe and his government should learn to tell the difference between party, government and private activities,” Shiriyedenga said.
“I think as Zimbabweans we should also begin to demand to know the source of the funds, and whether he is paying the parastatals whose services he is using.
“South Africans took their President Jacob Zuma to task over his opulent Nkandla home when they suspected that public funds were being abused, and that is what we should also be doing.”
Bulawayo-based political commentator Dumisani Nkomo said it will be unfortunate for ZANU PF to use public resources to fund a private wedding, particularly at this time when Zimbabwe is on the brink of collapse.
“But the problem is that it is hard to prove whether these are public or private funds. That is why we need a declaration of assets from public officials as intimated in the new constitution.
“Without that it is difficult to pin these officials down to anything because they will always argue that they have their own private investments,” Nkomo said.
Popular Congolese rhumba musician Koffi Olomide is set to be the star performer at the wedding. The controversial singer is wanted in France, where he faces rape charges and two years ago Olomide was found guilty of assaulting his producer.
A staunch Joseph Kabila supporter, Olomide has already spoken of his admiration for Mugabe whom he calls ‘a true patriot’.
“By asking someone with such a track record, one wonders what message the President and his wife are giving to their daughter. Perhaps that it is OK to abuse one’s position, abuse women and use violence? Olomide seems to fit right in the ZANU PF fold in this regard,” Ellen Shiriyedenga said.