A former lover of the Zimbabwean prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, has filed a high court injunction to block his wedding on Saturday, arguing that she is his wife under the country's "customary marriage" law.
The move by Locardia Karimatsenga, 39, has sparked a frenzy in Harare newspapers, which have plastered their front pages with headlines such as "Tsvangirai wedding war", "Plot against PM intensifies" and "D-day for PM wedding".
Tsvangirai, who lost his first wife a in car crash in 2009, is due to marry his fiancée, Elizabeth Macheka. Having the nuptials blocked would be an embarrassment at a time when the president, Robert Mugabe, is enjoying a surge of popularity ahead of Zimbabwe's next elections, expected next year.
Tsvangirai, 60, had been expected to invite Mugabe and some foreign leaders to the ceremony. "It is embarrassing, plain and simple," a senior official said. "It is an unwanted distraction which we would rather not have."
The prime minister paid lobola, or bride price, reportedly worth $36,000 (£23,000) and 10 cows when initiating marriage with Karimatsenga last year. Twelve days later Tsvangirai announced that the relationship had been irretrievably damaged after it was "hijacked" by political foes and state security agents.
Karimatsenga, said by local newspapers to have a taste for luxury, alleges that she suffered a miscarriage while carrying Tsvangirai's child last year, and that this had "mentally devastated him".
The high court has received another application from Karimatsenga in which she asks for $15,000 from Tsvangirai for her monthly upkeep, including $1,700 for "hair and beauty therapy" and $1,200 for telephone bills.
She is also seeking $3,000 for rent, $4,000 for groceries and $1,500 as a clothing allowance. The court is expected to rule later on Wednesday.
Court Rule...As Reported By BBC
A court in Zimbabwe has thrown out a bid by a woman to block Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's wedding on Saturday to his fiancee, Elizabeth Macheka.
Locadia Tembo had argued that the wedding could not take place because she was Mr Tsvangirai's wife under customary law.
But High Court Judge Antonia Guvava ruled such marriages were not valid.
President Robert Mugabe, who is in a fractious coalition with Mr Tsvangirai, is due to attend the wedding.
The BBC's Brian Hungwe in Zimbabwe says the wedding is expected to take place in an upmarket area north of the capital, Harare.
Mr Mugabe is billed to host a post-wedding banquet for other heads of state who will be there, he says.
Mr Tsvangirai, 59, and Mr Mugabe - the leaders of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Zanu-PF respectively - are expected to run against each other in presidential elections, due next year.
The case brought by Ms Tembo, a 39-year-old commodity trader and sister of an MP from Zanu-PF, was heard in chambers in the High Court in Harare.The judge ruled that marriages under customary law were not valid, expect for certain purposes such as the distribution of matrimonial property.
He also said the case should have been dealt with by a marriage officer at a magistrate's court.
Ms Tembo's lawyer, Everson Samkange, said he would now lodge a further objection to the marriage with the magistrate's court, which could lead to a commission of inquiry if the case goes ahead.
But Mr Tsvangirai's lawyer, Innocent Chagonda, said he welcomed the fact that "legal impediments" had been removed ahead of the wedding.
"There was no basis upon which [Ms Tembo] could have interdicted the prime minister from getting married," he said.
"An unregistered customary law marriage is not a valid marriage at all. It is valid for only certain purposes which have nothing to do with what we have been talking about."
Ms Tembo, a businesswoman, has been demanding $15,000 (£9,310) a month in maintenance expenses from the prime minister.
"Generally those I have met have dismissed that because in reality you don't spend that much... generally it has been taken as a political attempt to discredit the prime minister," John Masuku from Voice of the People radio told the BBC's Newsday programme.
Mr Tsvangirai's 35-year-old bride is the daughter of Zanu-PF loyalist and former Chitungwiza mayor, Joseph Macheka.
In November, reports said that Ms Tembo and Mr Tsvangirai held a traditional wedding and Mr Tsvangirai had paid a bride price of several hundred thousand dollars.
Shortly thereafter, Mr Tsvangirai said their relationship had been "irretrievably damaged" after it was "hijacked" by his opponents, including state security agents.
Mr Tsvangirai's first wife, Susan, died in a car crash soon after he became prime minister in 2009.
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